By Natalie Osborn
In 2020 I’d been working at Holiday for 6 years and had tried (and failed) all that time to pull together a charter trip with my friends. For anyone who has tried to get 20 people to commit to the same time frame and same vacation idea, you know it’s like herding cats. Then Covid came to town and I knew it was going to hit our company just like it hit every other company and every other human across the globe. We hunkered down just like the rest of the world and were left with fears of what our river season would look like. But by June the parks opened up and we were able to start running river trips again. Due to the limitations on international travel, and the fear of traveling amongst strangers in enclosed spaces, all of my friends were finally ready to get out on the river with me. These photos are just snippets of memories from that trip.
At the Browns Park boat ramp, we got our first of many public service announcements.
As we listen to our trip leader Susan Munroe we can look downriver at the entrance to the Gates of Lodore.
It’s hard to explain the sheer beauty and grandeur as you first enter the gates; the canyon walls are tall, the colors are vibrant, and it feels as if you’ve entered the backdrop of a Tolkien novel.
Sitting above Disaster Falls, Susan reads an excerpt from John Wesley Powell’s “Exploration of the Colorado River and its Canyons.”
Guides Trevor and ‘Snee’ having a chat during our scout for Disaster Falls.
It’s hard to imagine the disaster that Powell describes through this rapid (hence the name) after our guides had such clean and splashy runs.
Guide Tess (above) and Snee (below)
Our first camp at Pot Creek 2 provided the perfect beach for a little ammo can tug o’ war…
some afternoon fly fishing…
and a game of flying whipped cream.
A messy game best played near the water’s edge, and a shovel nearby for any necessary beach cleanup.
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The following morning we woke up to some early morning yoga led by my good friend Jenny.
Shortly after leaving camp, we’re met with our first rapids of the day…
and a hello from some wildlife. Guide Susan (above) and Trevor (below)
Emily gave Lucifer (the rock) a little love bump, and this photo officially became everyone’s favorite from the trip.
Almost all of us took some time on the trip to paddle a ducky…
Or lounge in one at lunch.
The weather got a little gray on our second day but made for some incredible stark contrasts down canyon.
After setting up at our second camp, Rippling Brook 2, we headed off on our first hike of the trip.
A highlight of the hike is always the staircase through rocks.
Hiking through the trees and canyon walls makes for an enjoyable hike on hot summer days.
All of the girls got together for a big group photo under the Rippling Brook Falls. We outnumbered the men 16 to 8.
One of the most iconic views from the Lodore trip is the one below, and also happens to be our founder Dee Holladay’s favorite overlook.
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Looking down at our camp as we finish hiking down.
The nice sandy shoreline offers a good spot to set your chair right in the river and stay cool.
And the large eddy at camp is the perfect place to swim or have a hair-washing party.
All of us were a little extra excited at the start of day 3. We had a big Prom night planned for our last night on the river, and everyone had been asking each other to prom in numerous ridiculous ways throughout the trip.
Since we had made a lot of miles on the first few days of the trip, we had plenty of time to stop at Jones Hole Creek and hike to a few of our favorite spots.
Everyone who wanted to, swam behind the waterfall at the ‘Hot Tub’.
And we all took turns getting doused at Butt Dam Falls (proper name Ely Falls).
Extra cool points for sticking your head all the way back, and staying under the freezing cold water until it gets dammed again.
On our way back to the boats there was a herd of big horned sheep, as well as a beaver working on his dam.
We camped at Compromise that night; another camp with a long sprawling beach… perfect for River Prom!
The costumes were all unique and fun.
And a playlist that took us back to our high school Proms (20 or so years earlier).
No Charter trip would be complete without a big group photo.
The final day of our trip was bittersweet… as most are… when you’ve been able to enjoy a little solitude, relaxation, and fun with the people you love in a place like Lodore Canyon.
But it’s hard to be down when riding the final rapids through Split Mountain.
They may not be as talked about as Disaster, and Hells Half Mile rapids…
but the wave trains and hits still give the guests a ride to remember.
I always have to give the guides a shoutout since they truly make each river trip an amazing experience, but I’ll let the non Holiday employed guests from the trip share their shoutouts below.
“I appreciated the in-depth explanation of how Covid-19 was being managed and how easy it was to find on your site. The guides were INCREDIBLE! They truly make you feel welcome and comfortable during your trip. And the food was always above my expectations! I couldn’t get enough!
This trip was something a little bit out of my comfort zone, but by the end of the 4 days, I couldn’t get enough! The guides are incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, and fun! You can tell how much they love what they do and they want you to love being on the river too! Each meal is fresh, healthy, and SO tasty! They are happy to accommodate peoples’ dietary restrictions and personal tastes. This is a trip I would recommend to anyone and everyone! If/when I do a trip like this in the future, I will be sure to choose Holiday River Expeditions!” – Ellen Sutphen
“Natalie did a great job getting us all of the information and following up to make sure we were prepared. Our guides were amazing!!” – Anna Higgins