Utah River Rafting Desolation Canyon Mud funFor a moment I remembered how it was. Last night, as the wind hustled snow into drifts and out-howled the coyotes, my son insisted on singing along as he played a song he had found in one of his piano books.

“Whistling, whirling, twisting, turning, soaring, swirling, chasing, churning, whipping, whisking…” he sang, as only an uninhibited, happy 8-year-old can sing—with passion and off tune.

The song’s words took me back to the vitality of the river that escorted our family down a Holiday Expedition’s family rafting trip last July through the Gates of Lodore on the Green River. While researching the trip for an article I was writing on it for Park City Magazine, I had discovered that John Wesley Powell, who made a historic descent on this river in rigid wooden boats in 1869, named this stretch of Green River, The Gates of Lodore

Apparently he was familiar with a poem written by the 19th-century poet Robert Southey, who captured the river’s caprice in a rambling poem of adjectives not that unlike my son’s piano song: “… And thumping and plumping and bumping and jumping… And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing…And this way the water comes down at Lodore.”


More adjectives followed in my mind of those four days on the river—captured in photos that motivated me to actually send out Christmas cards this year after a two-year hiatus.

As I stood in front of the sink rinsing dinner dishes, I let my mind wander back to memorable snapshots of our family rafting trip.

Click: Our boys racing our guides across a sandy beach into the river.

Click: standing under a waterfall. The water being held back by a handful of adults, and waiting for the rush of cold, pounding water to make you feel like you are the waterfall.

Click: A hike ending at one of my “Top 10 Best Scenic Views” so far in my life.

Click: A warm plate of lasagna, a glass of red wine, and an evening light show projected on sheer red-rock cliffs; compliments of the sunset.

Click: My son Riley, so exhausted by the sheer joy and excitement of his first river trip. Him falling asleep in my arms as we rode out the last rapid, the river splashing, twirling, whirling, circling, swirling…


The dishes are done and that last snapshot reminds me that my boys should be in bed. I hope those adjectives make it into their dreams, taking them back to the joys they had on the river. It is good to know that this is the stuff their dreams can be made of.

Peta Owens-Liston