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M Ultralight Packrafting in Cataract Canyon

by Forrest McCarthy

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Article Summary:

Nearly twenty years ago, after several weeks exploring the Maze in Canyonlands National Park, I descended to Spanish Bottom intending to swim across the Colorado River. While waterproofing my backpack by lining it with several heavy-duty garbage bags, I could hear the distant rumbling of whitewater in legendary Cataract Canyon below. Wanting to avoid the canyons perilous rapids I wandered a healthy distance up the section of flat water and jumped in. With backpack in tow I began my swim across the mighty river. Underestimating the speed of the current, I watched the far bank zip past at an alarming rate. Breathless and pumped full of adrenaline I reached the other side just above the first rapid. Simultaneously terrified and enthralled by the mysteries below, I dreamed of someday returning.

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