Fourteen SUU students, a faculty member and a Cedar City resident rafted down the Colorado River during Thanksgiving Break.
The group started at Diamond Creek and floated down river to Pearce Ferry, roughly a 54-mile journey.
The SUU trip was one of the first to be on the river during the U.S. Department of Interior’s 2012 “high-flow” experiment.
The high-flow experiment started on Nov. 18 when the Glen Canyon Dam was opened to release water at 42,000 cubic feet per second for 24 hours.
The hope for the extra release was to help move sand built up in the river channel downstream to rebuild beaches.
Breanne Bassett, a senior Outdoor Recreation in Parks and Tourism (ORPT) major from Sandy, was on the trip and said the high water got to them a few days after the first release and brought with it a major change to the trip.
“Only a few of us stayed up to watch the high water come in,” Bassett said. “It turned the water from relatively clean to murky, dirty water with lots of trash floating downstream.”
Lake Powell dropped about two and half feet during the high-flow experiment and the SUU students got to experience the Colorado River at higher levels than previous boaters have.
Trevin Johnson, a junior ORPT major from Fredonia, Ariz., was a trip leader and said running the river with the high water was amazing.
“It was very nerve racking with the water level,” Johnson said. “The hardest part was finding campgrounds, since most were underwater.”
Johnson said he enjoyed leading the trip for fellow SUU students because it made guiding the river more enjoyable than with his work commercially guiding.
“I took a bit to get out of guide mode, but I got comfortable and realized how much I missed guiding and enjoyed being on the river,” Johnson said.
The trip was part of a programming and planning class where students had to come up with a program and implement it.
Johnson said he hopes to have future trips down the river during breaks from classes.