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magic of swimming in the salmon river on a canyons river trip

Capture the Canyons Magic

The Power and Magic of a Canyons River Trip

Aiden Chambers wrote in ‘This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn’:

“I thought how lovely and how strange a river is. A river is a river, always there, and yet the water flowing through it is never the same water and is never still. It’s always changing and is always on the move. And over time the river itself changes too. It widens and deepens as it rubs and scours, gnaws and kneads, eats and bores its way through the land. Even the greatest rivers…must have been no more than trickles and flickering streams before they grew into mighty rivers.”

This is the Magic of Canyons. While one may be fortunate enough to return for the “same” trip: it is never the same. The river itself is different, the runs are different, the guides, while still amazing, are different; however, so much more changes than the obvious. Each time I have returned to the Salmon, I have been the same, yet entirely different. I long to return at every stage.


When setting out to try to capture this magic, I initially was going to discuss the ability the river and Canyons have for taking you away from reality. My first trip with Canyons, my mom was very ill. However, when we were on the river, it was all about fun and adventure. This compartmentalization is sometimes imperative to reset in order to move forward once you are back in reality. I cried when we were loading the bus at the end of the trip. Was I mourning the end of our amazing time? Definitely. Was I also a young girl mourning the return to a reality she was afraid to face? Most definitely. 


Upon return to the Salmon, the same but different, I was stronger. My mom had since passed away. We were starting our trip at the usual put-in but on foot. The river was low, and we would be meeting everyone else downstream after a 3-day hike. I have since run a marathon without training and have had two children. This 3-day hike remains one of the hardest things I’ve done physically and emotionally. With over 100 degree weather, little to no shade, and challenging terrain, my pack was proving possibly too large for my adolescent frame. This challenge paired with the rapids on the river taught me that I am capable of more than I realize. Each rapid must be faced head-on. You cannot stop paddling if you want to successfully get through. Stronger still. 


Just as the river “gnaws and kneads, eats and bores”, so does life. The last time returning to the river was for mourning as well as a celebration of the life of a beloved uncle. I was stronger than before but softer, more perceptive, older. The cleansing power of the river was felt. The presence of my uncle and my mom was so felt being surrounded and immersed in nature. This is the Magic of Canyons. The river is peace. You are surrounded by the overwhelming beauty of nature and can, momentarily, forget about all that is gnawing and kneading, changing you. For a moment, you only can focus on the “lovely” and “strange”, ever-flowing river. 


Written by Michele Rich, Canyons Guest 1999

About Katie Proctor

Outdoor recreation and river running are amongst some of Katie's favorite things to do. Her lovely personality and southern charm instantly grab your heart. She is an accomplished massage therapist, a beautiful writer, a fabulous boatwoman and now a proud mama.

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