All Rivers Lead To The Sea

Ocean First   Jul 06, 2022

Two of Ocean First's staff, Marlee and Kathryn, recently embarked on a multi-day rafting adventure with Adrift Dinosaur to reconnect with the wilderness and waterways who's health is interconnected with the health of our ocean. Here's their story:

Staring down the mouth of the canyon, our guides explained how they came to be called the Gates of Lodore. John Wesley Powell and members of his expedition named the opening of this canyon after Robert Southey’s poem The Cataract of Lodore:

““How does the water Come down at Lodore?" My little boy asked me

And so never ending, but always descending,

Sounds and motions for ever and ever are blending

All at once and all o'er, with a mighty uproar, -

And this way the water comes down at Lodore.”

A brainchild of Adrift’s owner, Javier, this special four-day adventure was destined for greatness with the addition of reggae artist, Mishka, and yogi/chef, Redda; all three are friends from Maui who have a personal passion for environmental conservation and spreading positive vibes. The importance of preserving natural spaces and the river-to-sea connection was elucidated as the rafts and their passengers followed 44 miles of the Green River through the heart of Dinosaur National Monument from Colorado to Utah.

Every morning started with waking up to the sound of the water flowing, pouring a hot cup of coffee and indulging in a healthy breakfast made by the cheerful guides. Morning meditation and yoga sessions were led by chef and yogi, Reda, from Evolution Yoga Maui. (Reda also stole our stomaches with his special homemade chai that we still are dreaming about!) At our own pace, we packed up our personal dry sack and took in the surroundings as the guides expertly secured 22 people’s worth of belongings and supplies to the five rafts.

Each day we navigated a new section of the canyon, starting with the imposing Gates of Lodore where 2000 foot canyon walls made up of the Uinta Mountain Group rock formation that was formed more than one billion years ago. By day four, we had traveled through more than 500 million years of history, watching as the Lodore canyons faded into the distinctly different Split Mountain geological formations, rock layers created by the Rock Mountain uplift and the Green downcut. Human history was also within view via the pictographs and petroglyphs that were preserved on canyon walls, made by the Freemont people who had previously inhabited the area. Within view of our exit point, we were given a moment to hike to a cave where outlaw Butch Cassidy had once hid out in.

The water switched between calm and churning, and the occasional class-three rapids with names like “Whirlpool Canyon” that offered a splashy thrill as we hooked our feet to the raft and worked together to push through the waves. On a calm stretch where the clear waters of the Green met up with the silty brown Yampa river, the group was treated to an acoustic set like no other – Mishka on guitar, his son Keanu on ukulele, and raft guide Angie on fiddle; the canyon was filled with music as the rafts lazily circled around each other. Every night around the fire, Mishka, supported by Keanu, strummed and sang through his musical library, taking us on a lyrical journey that connected the group through our interests in water, nature, and love.

What struck us about the experience that Adrift offers is how limited and uncommon it truly is. Save for the experienced rafters and their friends, the gems Lodore Canyon and Split Canyon are all but inaccessible without the help of a guide. With Adrift, you don’t just get guides - you get geologists, historians, chefs, and friends who will not only do what it takes to get you from one end to the other but will do it with pride and passion that enhances your experience and leaves you as a new river ambassador.

The Adrift website explains the power of their trips with the quote: “Each day peels off a new layer of connectivity and the flow starts to happen – you begin to come back to your authentic human self.” After four days and three nights of living and breathing the river and its canyons, this becomes so much more than a fantastical description - it’s the simple truth. Finding yourself off the grid, away from crowds, and immersed in an unspoiled natural paradise does something incredible to the soul. One of the raft guides said to us: “Everyone needs a river trip but might not know it until they are on it”. We couldn’t agree more.

Our Ocean First community is in a unique position – we are all desperately passionate about the ocean and our impact on its health, but we are as far inland as you can get. It can be easy to place a mental wall between our experiences in our backyards and our globe-spanning dive adventures. We have all heard the adage “all rivers lead to the sea” but when was the last time that you really truly internalized its implications? In some drought-stricken years, many rivers don’t even reach the sea after its water has been parceled out for agriculture and human consumption. Dams are a boon for human civilization but are devastating to the ecosystems that once depended on the natural water flow. We were often reminded by our guides that while the canyon appeared as pristine as we could conceive, evidence of human tampering was all around us, from invasive species to unpredictably variable water levels.

In explaining the natural history of the national monument, Braden, our lead guide, expounded on “moderation in all things.” It’s important to appreciate the positive outcomes of human intervention on wilderness and waterways, but the unregulated desecration of natural lands is in nobody’s best interest. We must hold dear the natural beauty in places like the Green River and fight to protect them from further harm.

As a company who offer our own guided trips, we wouldn’t be promoting a separate tour company unless their values and intentions perfectly aligned with our own. At Ocean First, we don’t just teach people how to dive, we create more sustainably-minded divers. Javier and his team at Adrift don’t just take people on rafting trips, they strive to inspire a new generation of environmental activists to protect the future of the waterways, canyons, and the place where all rivers lead – the ocean.

Check out Adrift Dinosaur’s website for information about upcoming single- and multi-day rafting and SUPing trips.