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Steamboat Magazine

Adrift and at Home

08/12/2021 01:12PM ● By Denton Turner
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Playing the upright bass has given me the most incredible experiences in my life. It has taught me lessons I could never have predicted and has introduced me to genuine and inspiring people. It has also taken me to beautiful, rarely seen places.Last summer, I found myself in a situation that encompassed all of these things: the inaugural RiverWonderGrass trip.

WinterWonderGrass has teamed up with AdriftAdventures and their world-class guides to create RiverWonderGrass, which combines a four-day raft adventure with live music and wild and scenic stretches of water – not to mention, top-notch food. Buffalo Commons was part of the inaugural 44-mile trip down the Green River from the Gates of Lodore to Split Mountain Campground.

From the moment we pushed off from shore, the beauty and magnificence of this remote river canyon hit us. As we entered the Gates of Ladore, we were immediately transported back in time. Stress and concerns vanished as the river took us to another world. The canyon was lined on either side with jaw-dropping red cliffs that towered above like giants. Untouched beaches were scattered throughout, with 100-year-old trees providing shade. As we floated down river, bighorn sheep, deer, falcons and even the fish seemed to be curious about our presence.

Sometimes the river was calm, but at other times it roared down rocky sections, creating a humbling thunder that could be heard a mile up the canyon. Every bend in the river revealed a surprise. At the end of each day, everyone was smiling, laughing and sharing stories. Soon everyone was dancing in the sand as the band struck up a tune. Even the guides preparing dinner were dancing to the music as the sunset behind the canyon rim.

On Sunday morning, day three of the expedition through Dinosaur National Monument, I found myself standing on a rock roughly 200 feet above the Green River and the beach where we had camped the previous night. I stood with my Buffalo Commons band mates, our instruments in hand. Our guides led the group of 20 rafters up a remote side canyon that leads to a secret pristine waterfall. My bandmates and I were awaiting their return to surprise them with a special Sunday morning set of music.

As the group made its way down the trail, we got the cue to start playing. We had played every night and morning and even on the boats the two days leading up to this, but something was different this morning and it was apparent everyone else was feeling the same way. Tears were starting to flow underneath my sunglasses. I tried to look at the river and hold them back, to not mess up the song. Once I gained my composure, I realized almost everyone was hugging, smiling, crying, feeling the incredible intensity of the moment. Everything and everyone seemed to be complete, connected and present.

Rarely do we get the chance to step away from our busy lives in this day in age and connect with the wild, changing our perspective of ourselves and the world around us. RiverWonderGrass provides that opportunity. No cell phones, no internet, no alarm clock ... well, we did have one actually – it was the sound of a wooden flute played by my bandmate, Randy Kelley, over the gentle sounds of the river and wind blowing through the leaves above us.

I’d like to thank Adrift Adventures, the guides, Buffalo Commons and WinterWonderGrass for creating an opportunity to learn life lessons, to connect with others, and to reconnect with myself, all in a setting more beautiful than words can describe.

Denton Turner is the upright bass player for the Steamboat Springs soul grass band Buffalo Commons.