We could stay on the river for another five days

Rafting on the Green River through Desolation Canyon with the Harmer Family.

July 28-01, 2014

Elaine & Dave

Dave & Elayne

Our Desolation Canyon trip couldn’t have featured a more congenial group of guides.  They took good care of us, worked well as a team, and helped make our adventure happy and memorable.  Please let them (and Tim) know what a great job they did.

Their positive, can-do approach started even before we got to the river.  As we unloaded the planes on the dirt airstrip I realized, with a sinking feeling, that after sheepdogging everyone else to get themselves and their gear to the warehouse on time, I had left my family’s tents behind.  No problem, Julian said — we brought extras and we’ll have space for everyone.  The extras turned out to be Julian’s and Alex’s own tents, which they provided for our use throughout the trip.  Since it rained every night, that was especially generous.

At our first campsite Larkin and Lena went from tent to tent in a driving downpour, bringing appetizers to guests without making them leave their tents.  Their good cheer was contagious.


Harmer FamilyFor the entire trip, the little girls (ages 4, 6, 6, 8, 8, 9, and 10) were the moths, and Erika was the lightbulb.  Basking in her reflected glory, they took to her like flies to a picnic.  Almost all of them spent almost all of their time on her raft, which we named the Beauty Barge.  If she ever wearied of running the kindergarten, she sure didn’t show it.  The girls expect her at all future family reunions!

Dave inspired confidence.  Calm, steady, and unflappable, he was the perfect choice to bring up the rear.  Whatever mishap might occur, we knew that he could handle it.  And he was masterful in dealing with the boys (ages 10, 12, 12, and 12), patiently tolerating all sorts of juvenile roughhousing but deftly intervening when necessary to maintain order, safety, and proper respect for the setting.  I understand that he’s pursuing a master’s degree in elementary education.  He’ll be a superb teacher.

With so many kids, breaking camp took a while; parents had to pack for little ones as well as themselves.  As soon as Julian finished his own preparations, he always came up to help.  All the guides ferried bags to the boats, but Julian actually helped to dismantle the tents and pack the bags.  Nice touch.

GuidesAs we talked about highlights of the trip, I asked my family to describe a courtesy or kindness shown by someone.  Each of their replies focused on the guides:

Ben: (12)  “Dave explaining why I couldn’t keep the lizard”

Madison: (18)  “Alex let Ariel and me use his tent.  It was soooo nice of him! We would have been miserable without it.  He deserves to go to heaven just for that.”

Jonas: (17)  “The food was awesome, and the guides made sure we never went hungry.”

(Ariel was reading….)

Who was their favorite guide?

Ben:  “All of them! They were all really nice.”

Madison:  “I like Larkin because she was so friendly and easy to talk to.  And because she played volleyball and is majoring in biochem.” (Personal note: I especially liked Larkin because her dad, Bret, was the trip leader for my last trip down Cataract Canyon.  I really respected him. After all these years, I was delighted to find his daughter following his path.)

Jonas:  “The guides were all great and made the trip lots of fun.”

Elayne:  “The guides inspired me to become stronger physically and mentally.  They were all so extraordinarily cheerful and confident and capable, and honestly looked like they were having such a great time taking care of us and serving us. It was really hard at first to let them do all the work (I always wanted to help), but by the last day I could tell they really liked doing everything so we could relax.  Alex was so smart, Erika so happy, Larkin so serene, Dave so Zen, Lena so sweet and Julien such an awesome leader — we couldn’t have asked for better guides.”

kayakingOf all the things we did, what was the most fun?

Ben:  “The rapids, especially Three Fords.”

Madison:  “I loved stopping at the historical sights along the river, especially the moonshine cabin during that incredible rainstorm.  [Alex and Erika put on a fantastic dramatic performance, complete with historical costumes.] I also liked just talking to the guides — they all were really interesting and amiable.”

Jonas:  “It was lots of fun to see Ben spending so much time in the water and on the kayak.  We got along a lot better on the trip than we usually do.  My favorite rapids were the ones I was on the kayak in (most of them).  I spent all day Wednesday and Friday on the kayak, and some parts of other days.”

How did you feel about the trip?

Madison:  “The last day I couldn’t wait to get home to a hot shower and warm bed.  But after I took a shower, I felt ready to get back on the river.  I hope  we do more outdoor activities as a family.”

Jonas:  “When Friday came I was hoping we could stay on the river for another five days.  I would like to work as a rafting guide.”


So there you have it — we’re ready for an encore.  Hope to see all our guides again next year.


Dave Harmer


P.S.  Jonas is right:  the food was fabulous — especially the filet mignon Thursday night.