Roaring Canyons Semester

August – December, 2019

A 700-kilometer journey through the heart of the American Southwest

J oinus on the 2019 Roaring Canyons Semester: a 700-kilometer canoe expedition through the heart of the American Southwest. In our decked whitewater canoes, we will retrace the steps of John Wesley Powell’s legendary expeditions through the canyons of Colorado and Utah’s Green River to its famed confluence with the Colorado River. From the mysterious past of Anasazi to the adventures of Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch, this is a one-of-a-kind historical journey for those ready for the longest wilderness expedition of their lives. You will become part of Kroka’s expedition community: a diverse group of twelve young adults led by Kroka’s senior paddling instructor Miron Golfman, living and breathing a life of adventure and discovery. You will live through the fall season in a red-rock country of unparalleled, rugged beauty.

As we wind through the canyons of the desert Southwest, students will become competent white water paddlers and have the opportunity to canoe some of America’s most famous rapids. Along the way we will study the fragile hydrological balance of Colorado river basin, witness the struggle between the ecology and the economy and add our voice towards the sustainable future of the region through service work and social activism. Our journey will culminate with a descent of the turbulent Cataract Canyon which empties into Lake Powell.

As the red-rock canyons and sandstone buttes become our home, we will find balance by climbing vertical rock faces, and descend through intricate slot canyons. Students will develop skills in rock climbing and technical canyoneering.

Beginning – August/September 2019

Fall semester begins at the Kroka farm and village in Marlow, New Hampshire. We begin with daily paddling training and prepare for expedition. As our bodies grow stronger in response to hard work, our hands and hearts relax into the rhythms of Kroka life, and a new circle of community takes form.

Training Expedition – New England

In early September we set out on a training expedition in Western Maine. Amidst the beauty of the great northern forest and changing leaves, we develop paddling confidence, learn to read the river, practice swift water rescue and experience the essential elements of expedition.

Fall Harvest and Community Service

A return to the Kroka farm finds us just in time to help with the fall harvest. We will dig root crops, make pickles and sauerkraut, and dehydrate vegetables, fruits and meat for the long expedition ahead. We will work in the forest to put up firewood for the winter and lend helping hands in the local community. As the weather turns cold and the first frosts touch the ground, we will load our canoes and two-months worth of provisions and head to the desert southwest!

Utah and the Desert Southwest – October/November

The Green River rises in the Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming, briefly enters Colorado, and flows 1,170 kilometers south through Utah’s red rock desert. The winding river and its canyons form some of the most spectacular desert terrain on earth.

Our expedition begins just below the Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Wyoming-Colorado-Utah border. The first “warm-up” section of the river takes us through the deep sandstone canyons of Dinosaur National Monument. From here, the river cuts across the Uinta Mountains and enters Desolation Canyon and Gray Canyon, cut 1500 meters deep into the Tavaputs Plato.

With rapids ranging from class I to III, this 400 – kilometer stretch of river is our longest unbroken section, bringing us to the town of Green River, Utah. We will hike to the post office to retrieve our food resupply for the rest of the expedition ahead!

We are now entering the slick rock country, Utah’s famed red rock canyons, and the scenery changes from gorgeous to unbelievable! It is time to add rock climbing to our repertoire of daily explorations. In a dry desert climate you practically stick to the rock! We will pass through Labyrinth and Stillwater canyons, winding our way through the heart of Canyonlands National Park. We will marvel at ancient pictographs, granaries and cliff dwellings left behind by mysterious people of the past.

Midway through this 200-kilometer stretch of the river we will secure our boats and embark on a ten-day technical canyoneering expedition in the area known as the Robber’s Roost: a secure hide-out for Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch (the famous “Robinhood” robbers of the Wild West). Trading our paddles for harnesses and rope we will rappel deep into the slot canyons, challenging our bodies and our expedition community to a brave adventure. Canyoneering requires the complete trust, support and concentration of each member of our group.

Completing the canyoneering expedition we will paddle the culmination of the Green to its confluence with the Colorado. Here at heart of the Needles Wilderness we will prepare for the 80-kilometer descent of Cataract Canyon. Here two mighty rivers join together, the river’s volume doubles, and the roaring rapids grow to class III and IV. This is the fitting final test to our three months of training and preparation!

We conclude our journey with a final expedition by land from the shores of Lake Powel through canyons and across the desert to Bears Ears National Monument, a wilderness area under assault by undone executive protections.

“On starting we come at once to difficult rapids and falls, that in many places are more abrupt then in any of the canyons through which we have passed, and we decide to name this Cataract canyon”

– John Wesley Powell Report, July 23 1869

Returning and Rejoining – December

In early December we will return across the country, arriving back to New Hampshire in time for the construction of a model sustainability center on Kroka’s campus. We will spend two final weeks of semester contributing to the building efforts while studying renewable energy systems. At the conclusion of semester we will welcome families and friends to our final theatrical performance and graduation ceremony.