During the last week of September, the fifth and sixth graders set off on a 45-mile canoe trip down the Labyrinth section of the Green River outside Moab, Utah. The trip began with an introduction to the desert and river life at Big Bend Campground on the Colorado River. Students swam and played in the mud at Take-Out Beach until the sun fell behind the canyon walls. Students took part in cooking, cleaning, and campground clean-up duty to practice the teamwork necessary to successfully make it down a river as a group. After one night of car camping, the group rose before the sun to pack camp and make it to our canoe outfitter on time. Tex’s Riverways updated students on Leave No Trace policies. They informed everyone how to properly use a groover in the wilderness before they shuttled us to our put-in at Ruby Ranch. After loading all the gear into canoes, we set off to make it as far as possible during our first day on the river. Our first campsite was 14 miles down the river on a beautiful, mostly sandy, slightly muddy beach at Bull Hollow. MaKenna Craige, '16 TMS Alumna, and Co-Trip Leader, taught the students Leave No Trace principles using seven fingers.
The following day, students rose to a morning yoga class along the river led by Lauren to prep us for our most significant day of paddling yet– 17 miles and a 1.5-mile hike. After a big breakfast, we paddled 8 miles to have lunch at Register Rock and examine the petroglyphs carved into the canyon walls. Students took the free time to refresh themselves and jump off a boulder into the river at lunch. We then continued to push toward Bowknot Bend to hike the saddle before sunset. As a class, we hiked swiftly to the top of the saddle to see both sides of the river and take a class picture before the sun sank too low. After a quick hike, we descended to board our canoes for a final four miles down to our campsite just past heart rock in the middle of Bowknot Bend. We set up camp just before the sun dipped below the canyon walls on an expansive beach. A hearty meal and a bright fire led the students to sleep well under the stars. Awakening to the moos of neighboring cows, we worked hard to get on the river early to make it the final 14-mile stretch down the river. Our last day on the river was spent playing in the mud, moseying toward the Mineral Bottom pullout, and unpacking and cleaning all the canoes before dinner. We wrapped up the evening with Jacqui’s Oreo Challenge, a reflection on growth by the fire, and one of Ben’s famous stories about the two unicorns’ adventures. The final day was spent wrapping up camp and grabbing well-deserved pizzas in Moab from their new pizza shop Moab Canyon Pizza. Students arrived home happy, tired, and full of dirt and stories to share with their parents.