Spring Floating the San Juan

Spring river trips are amazing. An undeniable sign that the seasons are changing. When the flip-flops ( or mud boots depending on where your floating) get pulled from the closet and thrown in the truck I always smile. Spring, then summer, more adventure, more travel. Best yet is the unpredictable weather. You can never tell how warm the days will be or how cold the nights. Or more importantly, when the wind is gonna blow....and how hard. Uncle Gusty has a tendency to show up unannounced and overstay his welcome. Last summers skills are rusty, timing is off, the whole routine seems a bit unfamiliar at first.
  Springtime packing seems to take a lot longer than normal, and I always seem to pack heavy. It's a fine line between running around lathered in sunscreen wondering why your dry bags are so heavy and standing there unprepared wishing you had brought your down hooded jacket. Why wish? I pack it all. Best not to be wanton.
    Last week we floated the San Juan from Sand Island to Mexican Hat. The put-in scene was  intimate and familiar, I just needed to physically get back into the routine; blow the boats, rig the frames, seal the dry bags. As soon as the boats were blown and rigged that sense of deja'vu struck. We were back; back to the low ground from the high mountains, back with hypalon and rubber not gore-tex and petex, back with friends sharing stories, some new, some old, all interesting.  The snow we had skied all winter was about to whisk us through one of the most majestic desert-scapes in the world. The trip was officially a training trip for both new and returning guides but more or less it was a trip to be with old friends and learn something new. We spent four nights under the western sky, all cold some frigid. The clouds and wind would spin a sunny morning into a bundled up afternoon. Glad I packed it all.
At night, like eons of peoples before us, our fire was our congregation spot. Warm and centered. We crowded close with collars cinched tight. From the outskirts of camp, along the rivers edge, the voices of the group melded into a pleasant soothing white noise. Coupled with the sound of the river sliding over the rocks as it flowed downstream, there was something timeless and just so right. Truly the human animal enjoying the natural world on a primal level. Lying down long after the sun had set but far before some of my intrepid rafting mates, I couldn't help but muse philosophically. The people, their voices, the wind, and soon to come frost, all framed in a landscape so perfect and beautiful that even artists have a hard time capturing its true essence. One of the true pleasures of living. So satisfying and welcome. It is so good for the soul it must be engrained in our DNA.