Cayden’s Adventurous High Adventure


When I got up Thursday morning the house was quiet. Everyone was asleep- it’d been a long night. But I saw this on the counter. Cayden’s home!! (And safe!!)

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I just (July 10th) pumped Cayden for the full story of this adventure. Today (July 11th) I thought that I’d better write it down while I still remembered the details:

The plan for Cayden’s scout group was to leave Monday and go rafting from Green River down to Canyonlands.  Matt job was to pick up the group on Friday, driving down after getting off work.

MONDAY: We dropped Cayden off with his gear at his scout leader’s house at noon. There was some confusion about where to meet so they don’t actually leave for a while later. They drove to Green River and couldn’t find the area to launch their raft and spent hours searching. They eventually found it and it’s on private property so they needed to get moving.  They inflated their raft, filled it with their gear, 6 boys and the 2 leaders. They launch their raft at 8pm and go down the river far enough so that they’re off the private property and can now set up their tents and camp. It’s completely dark (about 10pm) and they’ve only traveled 2 miles instead of the 8 they’d planned on for the first day.

TUESDAY: The pack up camp and launch the raft. There’s some pressure to make up lost miles, but the leader is constantly pumping the boys full of water every hour and having them reapply their sunscreen. He’s been a river rafting guide before and is certified in every type of First-Aid type thing. They’re in good hands.  Still, you know how Moab is. The temperatures are well over 100*. Kyle gets heat stroke, he’s shivering and cold in the middle of the day and isn’t sweating. They pull over, Kyle lays on the ground, the group stands around him and the leaders give him a blessing. A kayak passes them and they later find out that the kayakers thought he was dead!  (A kid lying on the ground with everyone standing around him). The get back on the raft and keep on rafting down the river. Two more boys get sick. By the time they set up camp that night every boy is sunburned, but the ones that took off their shirts (despite the leaders saying it wasn’t a good idea) are the worst. At 9pm they go to bed and the two boys start throwing up big time.  Cayden really says that Ryan is throwing up and that Brennan was trying to throw up but there was nothing to throw up. He was empty. At 11pm the leaders make a decision- they need to get the boys off the river. They wake the boys up, pack up camp and the leaders tell the boys to pile in the raft and try to sleep. The leaders row all night long, except for a brief stop where they pull the raft onto shore. The leaders lay in the sand and try to sleep for an hour and tell the boys to stay on the raft and sleep. Then they got back in and kept rowing.

WEDNESDAY: The sun starts coming up and the leaders are still rowing. They tell the boys to get under a tarp so that they don’t get burned some more. They keep on rowing. Cayden said when he came out of the tarp it was 10* cooler but no one was  burned. They finally make it to the end of the line- a trip that was supposed to last 2 more days.  They took the raft off the river and deflated it. The leaders don’t have cell phone service so they have to find someone (a Chinese tourist) and convince him to let them use his phone.  Then they have to hike 3 miles to find a spot with service. Matt gets a call at work from the leader’s wife saying that they need a ride home. She doesn’t know any more than that, except that no one is hurt. All of this time the boys are back at the raft alone while the leaders are trying to get service and make contact with Matt (it’s a scout rule that one leader isn’t supposed to be with the boys alone), and a big storm is coming in.

MATT’S SIDE: After getting the call at work, Matt races home, changes and drives to Canyonlands- the last stretch is a long dirt road that switchbacks down a cliff. With the storm coming in all he can think about is that a few years back a big rainstorm washed out the road completely and it was closed for a year. He gets to the bottom and they load up the van. The whole middle of the van is full of buckets of food, the raft, 8 people’s gear, huge tanks of water… They squish 5 boys into the back row, two into the next and they drive off. Matt’s been pushing everyone to move fast because the storm is a beast and he wants to get back to the top of the mountain. They drive to Green River (more long dirt roads) and get the leaders’ cars. Kids spread out among cars. It’s 1am. They pull out. The leaders haven’t slept since Monday night. They drive slowly. They stop to sleep for a half hour at Soldier’s Summit because they are just so exhausted. They get home at 4am. Cayden slept until 4pm.

I asked Cayden if he was ever scared or nervous. I thought maybe everyone getting so sick, so far away from home… or having to row all through the night… No. Two things.  When the leaders were out trying to find a cell phone and the boys were alone with the raft/gear when the huge storm rolled in, things were blowing out of the raft and the Cayden was worried about that. The second thing is when they drove up out of Canyonlands and were at the top of the mountain. There was a huge lightning storm and it made Cayden nervous that they were the highest thing out there. I told that to Matt and he said he’d had the same worry.

Things that came to mind as we were living this/hearing about the details. I’m glad they had good leaders. They put those boys on the raft and pulled them all through the night. It put so many miles under their belt that weren’t in the sun. Also, they were smart about watching the boys and keeping calm. They were worthy to give blessings and the boys could watch the Priesthood in action. I talked to one leader as he came to pick up his gear on Thursday evening, and he said he really felt that this was meant to be- to get off the river before that storm hit. They had no idea it was coming and it was a big one.


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