Our Community - Reflections on Adventure

What is Kayakpacking?

Ambassador Sophia Henze plans to kayak amd canoe the Green River the first week of October 2023. With the best of company – a couple who has mentored her and her friend Kelly – the four old friends will spend seven days on the river. They will begin their trip from the town of Green River, Utah, and end at the confluence of the Green River and Colorado River. The route will weave through Stillwater and Labyrinth Canyons in the Canyonlands National Park, totaling 120 miles on the water. Sophia and her friends will be able to experience the abundant ruins and rock art sites of the Ancestral Puebloan people.

Connect with Sophia on instagram at @sophia.henze
Donate to her campaign here: Sophia’s fundraiser

Pre-Trip Thoughts

I am so looking forward to this awesome river adventure that lies ahead! These seven days in Utah will be my very first multi-day river trip – before this trip, the longest I had spent in a kayak was three hours…so there will be many lessons learned and new experiences! I’m excited to spend this time experiencing the magical Canyonlands National Park (which I have loved exploring on foot) and learning a new skill. I am looking forward to being surrounded by and in awe of the golden and burnt orange rock formations, and to travel with friends near and dear to my heart. 

Why kayakpacking is the best way to see a river

Pros of kayakpacking

  1. The tranquility of floating and paddling on the water. Mind at ease, plus relaxation and exploration through the Canyonlands!
  2. Seeing the canyons and trails from a completely different angle. I am looking forward to camping on the river banks, setting up camp, and then getting to explore the canyons and trails next to camp!
  3. Full independence without carrying it all on your back! Especially coming from a history of backpacking, getting to experience the freedom of having everything I need – without needing to hauling it on my back!

The underside of kayakpacking

Cons of kayakpacking

  1. Not really a con, but we will be switching between kayaks and canoes, and I can imagine it will take a little while to get into a rhythm.
  2. The heat and sun exposure on this trip will be quite intense as we will be in canyons as well as the sun reflecting off the water. We’ll make sure we are bringing adequate and various sun protection, including sun screen, sun shirts, and hats. 
  3. Possibility of capsizing – while this is unlikely on our trip (as there is only one rapid!), there exists the chance of capsizing the kayak or canoe. We’ll bring PFDs (personal flotation devices) and will practice capsizing a few times before embarking on the journey.

Special considerations for packing

There are a few differences to packing for a kayak/canoe trip compared to dry land adventures

  1. Heavy things! Fresh fruit and veggies, eggs, maybe even wine! The heavier the boat, the easier it is to paddle. This is completely the opposite of every backpacking trip I have done before, and I’m looking forward to packing the cooler with such luxurious items. 
  2. Swimsuit & Quick-Dry Towel: Being on the river means getting to jump in! I’ver never packed a bathing suit before on an adventure – it’s usually too much weight and crisp mountain lakes don’t invite long soaks. We will have space/weight for a quick-dry towel as well. 
  3. Paddling shoes: Shoes to wear during most of the day paddling and then for rocky scrambles along the riverside canyons after setting up camp (I will most likely bring my Chacos or neoprene paddling booties).
  4. Dry bags: we will need different sizes of dry bags to keep the essentials from getting wet while on the water. I plan to bring a few 10L and 20L bags!

Final Thoughts

This upcoming adventure feels like a gift because I was truly just lucky to have experienced friends invite me to join them – the giddy feeling of “unknownness” ahead is reminiscent of my first backpacking trips in Alaska. I love that I get to experience this adventure while also fundraising for the Cairn Project to support more girls getting out in the wild – please share and donate if you can to this amazing organization. The mission is one that will impact not just the next generation of women, but many generations after!

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Sophia Henze

Sophia is constantly learning about all the ways she loves to experience the outdoors. Growing up camping the family’s VW camper van morphed into backpacking adventures in college, to now road biking along Southern California’s coastline.