I knew that I wanted to do something unique for first block break this year, so I was thrilled when Bruce Coriell, one of the CC Chaplains, offered to help me run a spiritual river trip. What I didn’t know was how many other people were looking for a similar experience. I was amazed by the 50-plus applications that I received in the first few days following the announcement of the trip. Better yet, the people applying were not the usual ORC goers, but a more diverse group due to the fact that the ORC was teaming up with another on-campus organization, the Chaplain’s Office. As the Outdoor Education program continues to change, I think we will start to see more diverse participation in our trips.
Selecting people from the huge pool of interest was very difficult, but it paid off. From the first group conversation we had at the put-in, it was clear the trip was going to be awesome. Being on the river together always makes everyone in the group feel a deep sense of sacredness, and the added intention of spirituality and reflection made the trip feel all the more special. The days were filled with meditations, mud baths, laughing yoga, delicious food, and good company. We had a day of floating in silence, ate S’mores as appetizers, meditated in a huge sandstone bowl under the nearly full moon, went through bags of sunflower seeds, and admired the canyon walls.
We would get up at a reasonable hour, goof around on the beach for a while, then float down to the next campsite. The first campsite we stayed at had a huge steep-sloping rock going into the river; the giant slide potential of it was immediately recognized. We covered it in slimy river clay and cut an orange-juice container in half to use as a sled, and had a morning filled with fun and injured bums.
On Sunday, we had to make quite a bit of distance on the river, load up all the rafts, and drive back to school. Well rested after 10 hours of sleep all the previous nights, we woke up at five and put on the river while it was still good and dark. Floating under the stars and the full moon was incredible. Getting to watch the moon set and the sunrise while drifting in between smooth boulders at the base of 100-foot walls was one of the more surreal things I have done, the strange twilight insisted upon deep relaxation and amazement.