Nearly 7 years ago I kayaked my first low flow desert river, Utah's Escalante River, with my dad, and buddy Tom Butz. We caught the flows just right, but after day 2, it was obvious there could be better ways. We dragged out kayaks a bit, patched a seal, and tended our sore backs.
Fast forward three years, and I had just learned about standup paddling. I tried it, fell countless times, but realized the low-draught craft would be perfect for small desert rivers. And ultimately, big low-flow expeditions. That year, 2016, I bought my first SUP, a Hala Hoss, and invited four friends to join me on SUP first descent of the Escalante River -- my first test to see if this was truly a game changing way to float small rivers and explore the southwest desert.
100 miles and 7 days later, it was clear, we had made the right choice. We could stand, kneel, sit, lay and drag... And even sleep on the boards. Our inaugural trip was featured in @outsidemagazine, @supthemag and @elevatedoutdoors. It was never my intention to be the first to run the Escalante on SUPs, and frankly, I don't really care to have that claim, but I think it's cool to be the first to explore low-flow rivers using SUPs and utilizing a new way to go deeper and further, with less.
Since that first trip down the Escalante River, I've standup paddled, self-supported, The Rio Grande, paddled countless whitewater stretches, and now, starting tomorrow will add the Dirty Devil River to the list of self-supported multi-day river expeditions. All of the stretches I've paddled self-supported are over 80 miles, and I can't believe how efficient these craft truly are.
Photos: 1. Rio Grande, Circa 2018; 2. Escalante River, circa 2016 3. Escalante River in an inflatable kayak, circa 2012; 4. Standup Paddling the Escalante River, circa 2016; 5/6. Standup Paddling the Rio Grande, circa 2018.
#keepexploring #paddlemore #SUP
// @halagearsup @seallinegear @smartwool @backcountry @outsidemagazine