Paddling it Up and Camping it Out for #FearlessFebruary

26 Feb

Just sitting there next to the Colorado River high on top of the mountain was like being embraced by paradise. The cool north wind playing with my hair, the perfect arrangement of pink and orange hues against the tender blue sky, and the quiet river flowing away without a care. It was a once in a lifetime moment and I absorbed it without filter or limitation.

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 For my #FearlessFebruary challenge, I ventured on a canoeing trip with the UA Outdoor Adventures down the Colorado River through the Chocolate Mountains. I know what you might be thinking… where’s the challenge in that? Trust me, canoeing 35 miles is definitely a challenge!

 My adventure began Valentine’s Day as we headed 300 miles up to Walter’s Camp in Palo Verde, California, which was roughly a 5 hour drive from the UA. Challenge #1 encountered: packing up accordingly. I now know I packed way more than I actually needed, but at the moment I was trying to be cautious.

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Challenge #2: going with 12 other people who I didn’t know. This definitely was the least worrisome part of my trip since I am fairly comfortable around strangers. In reality, I didn’t worry much about anything at all on this trip. I was simply going with the flow. But thankfully, the group of people I went with were amazingly fun and chill, which contributed to the great experience!

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Once we arrived at the campsite, we set up the tents, which was not as hard as I had imagined it to be. By this point, the night was cooling down fast, which brings me to challenge #3: THE COLD. As an Arizonan, I have come to be very accustomed to hot weather and as a result, I get cold very easily. This might not be due to living in Arizona at all, but let’s blame it on that for now. With that said… I was freezing all night! Word of advice in case you ever go camping at this time of year: take extra sweaters and sweatpants if you can… the struggle is real when it comes to the cold. Also, I might be exaggerating a little or a lot about the cold.

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After some good laughs and interesting stories in the spacious tent, we called it a night. I was immensely tired, so I slept so comfortably that I didn’t even feel the hard ground beneath me. However, I didn’t sleep like a baby all night. Around 1:00 am, a group of Boy Scouts pulled into the campsite. The crunching sound of the rocks and the lights of the cars served as my initial wake up call. Immediately after those two subdued, there came the noisy, careless whispers of the Boy Scouts. Everyone in my group was awakened and we weren’t the happiest of individuals to say the least. So I guess challenge #4: noisy Boy Scouts.

After loud “whispers” and canoes being dragged across the ground, I managed to fall back asleep only to awaken a few hours after. First thing I noticed when I woke up: it was freezing! I somehow managed to get out of my sleeping bag and change into my river clothes, which consisted of shorts and a tank top. I definitely wasn’t helping my freezing situation. We had breakfast… blueberry pancakes and four cups of coffee for me. After an hour or so, I was definitely feeling the effects of the coffee, so I was ready to get on that canoe and paddle to the other side of the country if need be! I had totally forgotten about the coolness of the morning by this point.

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After packing up, we were on our way! My mentality by this point: water here I come!

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Challenge #5: MANEUVERING THE CANOE! This is definitely a lot harder than we thought it would be. My partner and I started off ok… managed to get out of the departure area without either of us falling out of the canoe or crashing into others. A couple of paddles in, we discovered this would not be a walk on the beach! We literally zigzagged through the first third of the trip. At some point, my canoe lost one of its motors (meaning my paddling partner)! This can be observed in the picture below. This made it way more difficult and challenging, but I didn’t really care. I was enjoying the experience way too much to be concerned with fatigue or lack of straight guidance of the canoe.

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After 18 miles of canoeing through the Chocolate Mountains, we set up camp at another site and had the most flavorful chili I’ve ever had, played card games (I totally kicked butt at playing Speed), and rested the night away. The next morning, we were back on the river… making our way down the 17 miles that were left to our ending mark in Yuma, Arizona.

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Overall, this was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had! The landscape was beyond gorgeous and provided the perfect environment to get away from my “big girl” problems. The individuals who I went with were so fun and open-minded!  Although I did experience a couple of challenges, I perceived them not as logs in the river (see what I did there?), but instead as waves that only made the experience that much more eventful and pushed me to appreciate more the environment, the people, and my mental and physical state.

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“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

–Lucero 

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