Though I saw not another soul on the water during my nearly 40 mile canoe trip on the Green River in Wyoming this past September, I did see several camps along the way. It was almost noon when I spotted a group of campers sitting around a picnic table having lunch under the canopy of a large cottonwood tree.
As I paddled by them I hollered, “good morning” and some fellow in the group responds with the same.
“Where you headed?” he hollers back.
I jokingly shout, “Californy.” I hear loud laughter from the camp.
“You’re going the wrong way,” someone else yells.
“I am going to connect with the Overland Trail, downstream, then cut west,” I harped. I’m not sure they heard that one.
A half hour later, I put in on a small island to take a break,  stretch my legs, and gobble down a sandwich and chips.
I light a cigar and commence to scout the area, being careful not to step on a rattler. The brush here is thick and I follow trails made either by cattle or other animals.
I walk back to the canoe on a different trail and am startled by a buck and two does that appear from nowhere. They run into each other trying to get away. I laugh.
The rest of the afternoon goes by fast as I am kept busy making judgements as to which side of the river is the most navigable.
Several more times I jump from the canoe, lightening the load so it doesn’t scrape the rocky bottom, then just as fast, jump back in when I reach the deeper water.
Late in the afternoon I notice dark rain clouds gathering in the northwest. I paddle harder hoping to make it to the historic Alkali Creek Stagecoach Station, my last camp.
A short time later I am glad to see the log cabin and sandstone buildings poking up over the surrounding sage brush. I drag the canoe up on the bank and secure it to a log laying nearby.
Several small clouds pass over and drop a few sprinkles, as I hastily set up camp. I put on a pot of coffee, then some spam, potatoes and green beans. I hurriedly eat.
As I am washing my cooking utensils, a bright, beautiful rainbow arches over the station site. I try to photograph it but it is so close I cannot get it all in the camera lens.
Out of the corner of my eye I see lightning flash in the distance and seconds later, the faint, far off sound of rolling thunder. I secure my camp, tarp my food and gear, weighting it down with rocks and driftwood.
The wind is getting stronger, and I watch the hills to the north slowly disappear in oncoming rain clouds.
As the sky darkens, the lightning flashes are closer and brighter, blinding me for seconds at a time. The thunder is incredibly loud. I decide to get out of the open and find cover in one of the old buildings. I make a bee-line for the closest one, and none too soon.
Hurricane force gusts of wind, accompanied by a hard driving rain, rock the already leaning, dilapidated, wooden structure. I move back and forth to dodge the drops of water filtering down from the cracks in the roof.
As the wind gathers in intensity I worry the swaying building might collapse. To make matters worse, I begin to worry about the close proximity of the lightning. It seems to be all around me.
I squat down and lean forward on the balls of my feet. I had read somewhere that this position makes you less of a target for a lightning strike. I am feeling very vulnerable, and apprehensive.
Another blinding flash and a horrendous clap of thunder right over the top of me really sets me over the edge.
“Lord you gotta help me out on this one,” I  remember saying. “This ain’t cool.”
A powerful rush of wind that sounds like a freight train rocks the building. I look up and see sagebrush, wood and other debris flying around outside. The thought that this might be a freak tornado crosses my mind and I am scared.
It’s raining sideways and water is coming at me from all directions. I’m getting soaked and starting to shiver. I hear the distinct sound of tin hitting one of the other buildings.
I ratchet-up my one-sided conversation with the lord. This scenario lasts for another 15 or 20 minutes.
The wind subsides and the thunderstorm moves slowly to the southeast. A quiet calm settles over the area. I thank the lord, and the old building.
I return to my camp and am a bit surprised to find my gear intact and my tent still standing. The dark clouds pass over and the sky lightens up a bit, but daylight is rapidly giving way to night. I struggle to get out of my wet buckskins and into dry clothes.
In the comfort of my warm bedroll I am thinking about what just occurred, how helpless I was, not having any control over what was happening, and what could I have done differently.
I hear a lone raindrop hit my tent. It’s followed by several more, and soon the sound of a gentle rain lulls me into a deep sleep.
I am awake just after daybreak and am greeted by clear skies. I am refreshed and ready for whatever the day may bring. Last night’s ordeal seems more like a dream.
I have a difficult time getting a fire started with damp wood, but I finally succeed. Hot coffee first, then bacon and eggs, potatoes and toast (unburned).
I spend the morning drying my clothes and doing a bit of metal detecting around the old stage station. I find a few artifacts, but no gold coins.
I take a lot of photographs inside the sandstone structures, log cabin and other old out buildings. I also photograph remnants of old wagons, buckboards and other early day horse-drawn equipment.
I climb the hill overlooking the historic site and get a magnificent, 360 degree view of my little world.
It is near noon when I break camp. I discover the life jacket I left in the canoe overnight is missing and surmise that it was swept up by the wind during last night’s storm and carried away on the river. I am left with no choice but to continue without it.
Several ospreys glide slowly back and forth over me. One hovers above the river, then dives downward and breaks the water’s surface.
As it struggles to regain altitude, I see it has a large fish in its talons. A few seconds later the fish slips from the bird’s grasp and falls back into the water. As the osprey flies slowly away, I can only imagine his disappointment and the fish’s relief. It is images such as this I take with me when I leave here.
The open expanse of water begins to narrow, meanders some, then moves between high sandstone and limestone bluffs.
I see some whitewater ahead. I ready myself for more tricky maneuvering. I remember this section of the river from last year. Staying focused and alert, I make it through the canyon without incident.
It is about three o’clock when I arrive at the Green River City Park boat landing. I called earlier on my cell phone to have folks waiting for me. They do most of the loading as I sit and watch. I spend the afternoon cleaning up my gear.
That evening I speak with my friend Ray, an avid kayaker and canoeist who lives next door to my sister. I relate my experiences during the three-day adventure. I tell him about how scared I was during the lightning storm.
We shook hands and parted, he asked, “Would you do it all over again?” I hesitate for a few moments, grin, then answer, “Yup.”
In the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
Prior to my trip, I used Google Earth to help me gather information in regards to mileage, elevation and the  location of historic sites along the river corridor.
I also mapped out geographic features to help me be able determine my location at any given point along the way.
Statistically, as the crow flies, it’s 30 miles from my start, above the Lombard Ferry site, to my finish, at the Green River City Park.
There are 39, actual canoeing miles on the meandering river, within that 30 miles. This means there is nine miles of meandering. There are over 20 significant oxbows (horseshoe bends) within the nine miles. The longest, a distance of over a mile, is just south of the Lombard Ferry site.
The river elevation where I put in above the ferry site is 6,265 feet and 6,090 feet where I took out, at the park. That is a drop of 165 feet in elevation from start to finish, an average gradient of five inches per mile, on paper.
In reality, there were a couple of places I could plainly see, and feel, the abrupt stair-stepping drop of more than five inches, just within a few hundred yards.
The meandering river reminds me of the off and on ramps of the freeway system. You sometimes have to go east, west and sometimes even north, to end up south.
When I returned home to McCloud, I e-mailed Bureau of Reclamation Hydraulic Engineer Katrina Grantz, located in Salt Lake City, Utah.
She confirmed the release of water at Fontenelle Dam (located a few miles further upstream) during the three days of my run was approximately 1,050 cfs, as opposed to 700 cfs at the same time, last year.
I haven’t yet decided what I will do next summer. I am still feeling the glow of last month’s exciting river run. But you can bet I will be out somewhere, where there is a wealth of adventure, beauty and history.