Spring Break '09 on the Salt River

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Posted Wednesday, April 1, 2009 - 5:54pm

I think it was Einstein that said, "For the rest of my life, I want to reflect on what light is."

Since seeing Disney's Alice in Wonderland as a child ... the play of light and all kinds of imagery (especially abstract imagery) has captivated me. These days waking up next to a river in the middle of nowhere trying to catch every subtle change in the light is all the light show I need. The 20 or so minutes of shadowless light, when the entire sky is one big evenly lit source of illumination is a photographers dream. I love the way the soft light makes colors pop and how the air is (sometimes) whisper still.

Spring Break 2009 found me again floating the Salt River in Arizona and camping on its banks three days and nights. Four sunrises and three sunsets on the river ... what a (light) show.

After dinner at the Fiesta Mexicana in Show Low Arizona, 10 of us arrived at the put in (another 50 miles down the road) well after dark; three couple and four singles. Bo Christensen and Rachel Ryan, Jake Paul and Rebekah Taylor, Amber Barlow and Brad Loverage and the singles, Tommy Ward, Chris Jensen, Kellen Sillman and myself. Everyone was in a good mood ... we knew in a few short hours we would be on the river. We visited with fellow river rats and then found a place to zonk out.

The morning was bright and clear and compared to recent mornings in Price, it was warm. As Ryan and Taylor drove our cars to the take-out point, the rest of us rigged the boats and made preparations to launch. At 1 p.m. when we pushed off, it was probably 75 degrees with most of us in shorts or bathing suits ... as Spring Break should be. We camped near Salt Springs. The spring, located above the river on a cliff created a white and brown 100-feet wide 50-70 feet high stalactite-like formation as it dripped into the river. After a dinner of pork chops cooked by Ward, we sat around the fire and laughed until it was time for bed.

Another perfect morning on the river ... clear and when the sun broke over the canyon wall, it warmed up quickly. As Spillman and I rigged our boat, he found a pair of jeans in the river, after inspecting them it was discovered they belonged to Christensen. Gotta be careful when changing clothes near the river ... the darnedest things can happen.

After a nice day on the river, we found our second campsite. Christensen whipped up some of his famous bean dip as Spillman, Jensen, Barlow and Taylor made chicken fajita's sizzle and our mouth's water. After dinner and dishes Taylor, Paul, Ward, Jensen and myself stayed up and created a light show of our own.

With a camera on a tripod and a 13-second exposure, we spelled everyone's name with our headlights. It just so happened we had five people and all of our names had five letters (except Jake so we put an exclamation point after his name) ... so we each traced a letter with our lights as we stood side by side with the cameras shutter open in otherwise complete darkness.

The next night we enjoyed a spectacular sunset ... but before that ... the Bocce Ball championship of the world. Four teams: Jensen and Ward, Barlow and Ryan, Christensen and Paul, and Spillman and I. (Thanks to Loverage and Taylor for making dinner). The rules for Bocce are simple ... someone throws a marker ball called a Pallino, anywhere they want, and then each person on each team tries to land a bigger ball (about the size of a medium grapefruit and weighing around five pounds) as close to the Pallino as possible. Whichever team's Bocce ball lands closest, gets a point. The ladies came out smoking hot and scored the first two points. Not bad for their first game of Bocce Ball ever. But then the experienced players started dominating. Despite a good effort by all ... when we were called to dinner Kellen and Scott were eight with our closest rivals (Bo and Jake) at four.

Morning four on the river was spectacular. Nature's own light show. After shooting the sunrise, I hiked and crawled getting close ups of all the desert flowers and bugs I could find.

Everyone was a bit subdued on this morning ... we were tired and not savoring the thought of a 12-hour car ride and classes beginning again. We enjoyed our last few river miles in relative quiet ... and speaking for myself ... trying to only be on the river.

Thanks to Ward for getting the permit, Steve Christensen for his river guide class and logistical support, and Bo Christianson for leading the expedition. Thanks to all my river mates, you made the trip unforgettable.

Filed under: lifestyles

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