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Group photo in front of Utah canyon

The Dartmouth Outing Club runs a series of break trips during spring break, from hiking the Virgin Islands with People of Color in the Outdoors (POCO) to bouldering Red Rock Canyon with the Mountaineering Club (DMC). These trips are of varying levels, but it's possible to go on a trip with little to no experience. As I scrolled through this year's options, I noticed that the Ledyard Canoe Club was hosting a beginner flat water canoeing trip to the Green River in Utah. Although I was on the fence about going, I ultimately embraced the challenge. It also helped that Dartmouth subsidized 55% of the trip and allowed me to make free gear requests through Dartmouth Outing Rentals. With a dry canoe bag, headlamp, and sleeping bag in tow, I journeyed from the East Coast to Utah earlier this month. 

Upon landing at the airport, I finally met my trip leaders and "tripees," Dartmouth slang for the fellow members on the trip. We headed to a nearby camping location to pack supplies and load vans before heading out to the canoe rentals early the next morning. The first day on the water was cold, rainy, and windy. Still, I felt the group getting closer as we munched on tuna wraps, huddled near each other for warmth, and pitched tents under the stars.  

Students huddling around campfire during first rainy day of break trip
Our first day on the water was rainy and cold, so we huddled around the campfire

Sun hitting the canyon and campsite
We were lucky to experience beautiful views and sunny weather for the rest of our trip

Luckily, the sun was out and shining for the next five days on the river. We settled into a routine of making breakfast (chocolate chip pancakes were a group favorite), doing dishes, and packing up tents. Each day, we would have a new canoe partner to chat with during the three or four hours we spent canoeing each day. Being out on the river was the best part of the day. I loved getting to know my daily partner, from simple conversations about our family and academic interests to deeper discussions about religion and relationships.

Two girls next to canoe on river
Kalina '27 and fellow blogger was one of my favorite canoe partners

Occasionally, I would dip my toes in the river as the sun peaked, wondering if any fish were floating by and admiring the green-brownish hue of the water. The ten of us would grow quiet at times, looking at the sky with the geese chattering above us, watching a wild turkey family march in a line on the sand, and listening to the wind echo throughout as it bounced on the rocks. Best of all, I would stop to stare at the reddish-brown cannons around us in wonder at their sheer size. In these moments, I felt my mind go blank as I focused on the steady rhythm of paddling, floating, talking, and listening. 

Moon peeking over the canyons
We were surrounded by canyons as we paddled 60 miles along the Green River

After our midday row concluded, we settled and made camp on a sandbank. Once again, we set up tents, flipped a canoe over to create a table, prepped ingredients for dinner, and searched for firewood. There was time to rest, as some opted to journal, draw, and read. There was also time for fun as others participated in sand cartwheeling contests, mud hikes, card games, and campfire games. 

The trip was not without hurdles. After seven days of camping and traveling, I was excited to go home, shower, and sleep in my bed. Still, my time in Utah is an experience I will never forget, primarily because of the unique people and friendships I made, including a traveling songwriter, a bird enthusiast, and a future educator. As a graduating senior, I couldn't have asked for a better final trip. 

Group standing on top of canyon after our trip concluded
A final group shot before heading to the airport, we made it!

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