Hours later, the group arrives at the raft launching site, Mexican Hat, named for a sombrero-shaped rock outcropping. The travelers assemble and pack the rafts, loading food for five days, beer, water jugs, a portable toilet, tents and sleeping bags, kitchen and first aid supplies. Then they’re off.
A short distance downstream they see it: a narrow steel bridge 150 feet above the river — after which there is no longer any cellphone coverage.
“It’s the end of civilization,” Mr. Atchley jokes.
Late in the afternoon, they make camp on the banks. They eat pork chops, the Big Dipper brilliant above, the thousand-foot canyon walls narrowing their view of the heavens. A few bats dart and dive, seeking bugs drawn to the flashlights.
The men drink Tecate beer and talk about the brain. They are thinking about a seminal study from the University of Michigan that showed people can better learn after walking in the woods than after walking a busy street.
The study indicates that learning centers in the brain become taxed when asked to process information, even during the relatively passive experience of taking in an urban setting. By extension, some scientists believe heavy multitasking fatigues the brain, draining it of the ability to focus.