Friday, January 14, 2011

Canoeing The Green River in Utah, 120mi Solo

I wanted to share an account of my September 19-26 trip on the Green River in Utah. Over the course of my trip I kept a journal. The original intent was to record what I did and when so that when I had a chance to look at my photos I’d not forget what they were. It wound up morphing into something more than that. Upon review the journal became surprisingly introspective and a bit personal.

The following, is an unedited transcription of the journal accompanied by a slideshow of my photos from the trip:

Click Here For Fullscreen View of Slideshow 

Day #1
Sunday – 19 Sep 2010

8am - Awoke at my hotel in Moab and made my way to Tex’s Riverways for shuttle trip to the river. Loaded gear/canoe on Tex’s trailer and currently waiting for others to do the same.

10:30am – Shoved off from Crystal Geyser

1pm – 2.5hrs into the trip, concerns about being able to handle the boat by myself were unfounded. Trim on the boat is pretty spot-on and it’s tracking well. Surprised to find a few small rapids in the first couple of miles. Nothing particularly challenging, but an interesting addition.

There are two other parties on my shuttle into the river. A couple from S. Carolina in kayaks and a retired gentleman from Pensacola in a rented canoe.

I’ve stopped for lunch @ RM-107. Seven miles into the trip after 2.5hrs. After the first 30min the others were out of sight behind me. I guess I can throttle back on the effort level. It looks as if 17mi per day is an attainable pace.

5:30pm – MISTAKE! The kayak couple (Dave & Jenny Williams) stopped at RM-102. I decided to push on to my planned destination at RM-99 to cover my target 17mi for the day. WOOPS! Not 20min after I passed them the wind kicked up significantly. I had to work pretty hard to reach RM-99 only to find out that the “Island” I’d picked in researching river guides and Google Earth is in reality a mud flat. Knee deep silt all the way around and the only high ground on the island is choked with Tamarisk. Had to push on, against the wind, and look for a place to camp. Wound up at Ruby Ranch @ RM-97 directly across from where the San Rafael River joins the Green. Not sure if I’m allowed to be here or not but I can’t paddle any more today.

18mi today and the last 4mi took longer than the first 7.

Lesson – Dave & Jenny (the folks in the kayaks) have been here 4 times. I’m a bull-headed SOB and I didn’t listen to their EXPERIENCE. I need to grow some humility and stop being afraid to ask questions, learn from others and be open to altering “MY PLAN”.

9pm – Finished eating and getting ready to hit the sack. Wind is still blowing. Hopefully this wind dies or tomorrow may be bad.

Random Thought: Boy, if Kathy had not reminded me to pack sunscreen I would be SCREWED right now….Thanks hon. Your awesomeness knows no bounds.

…..just found a note that Kathy slipped into my gear…very sweet…I didn’t expect to cry on the first day.

Day #2
Monday – 20 Sep 2010

7:42am – Up @ 6am, broke camp, breakfast of coffee & oatmeal. Feel better than I did last night. Quite warm already with some clouds. Hopefully no rain. Going to try to hit Ten-Mile Canyon early this afternoon in hopes of avoiding the afternoon wind.

11:40am – No such luck…..wind whipped up @ 11:15. Blowing much harder than yesterday. It took me a while to find a safe landing on the deep side of the river. I’m currently parked on a ledge between RM-85/86. Gonna have some lunch and see if it calms down a bit. Still need to cover another 3.5-4mi today.

2:00pm – Still holed up on my ledge, wind is still howling. I’m covered in grit from the blowing silt. The stuff looks like sand but is so fine as to nearly defy identification as granular. Almost like cake flour. 2’ whitecaps across the width of the river but it does look a bit calmer downstream. Can’t be sure though. I might just be in a bad spot here…or…that calm spot is a sucker hole. Plenty of daylight left, and the river is too dangerous right now with no place in sight to get out other than here, so I’m gonna wait some more. Last night the wind didn’t die until after 10pm though…hope that’s not the case today…

4:19pm – No such luck on the wind dropping significantly… Dave & Jenny came by at 2:45 and the wind still hadn’t died. Saw their ride improve a bit downriver and took off after them using the double-bladed kayak paddle rather than a canoe paddle. A bit easier to control the boats inclination to turn away from the wind, and quicker to brace when the canoe tries to roll in the waves reflecting off the cliffs.

Wanted to make Ten-Mile Canyon at RM-80/81 but with the wind I didn’t want to risk trouble landing or finding a campsite. Camped with Dave & Jenny at Bull Hollow @ RM-84/85. 4mi behind schedule….hoping for no wind tomorrow so I can make up the distance lost today. The plan for the morning is to wake up before sunrise and skip the hot breakfast. Less stuff to pack up in the morning will put me on the river earlier and hopefully let me get in the miles before the wind comes up.

5:37pm – Just read what I’d written thus far. Pretty negative $hit. Am I like that a lot? Do I focus on negatives? I’ll pay attention to that going fwd and rectify if that is the case, so…positives….I’ve seen:
  • Herons
  • Ducks
  • Coots
  • Hawks
  • Kestrels
  • Canadian Honkers (that was a surprise)
  • 2 Beaver this morning….NICE BEAVER!

I’ve never seen a beaver before. Cool little critters.

Heard coyotes last night and an Owl this morning. The scenery is absolutely unreal and I am just getting to the good stuff. Psyched about the physical stuff too. I’ve no lungs to speak of, but I feel plenty strong.

The Dittmers “Award Winning Ukranian Sausage with peppers, onions, fennel, garlic and white wine… AWESOME!

The Dittmers smoked pork chops last night were delicious too, but too hard to cook.

Day #3
Tuesday – 21 Sep 2010
2:40pm – Didn’t write this morning as I was in a hurry to get on the water to make up the mileage deficit from yesterday. Skipped the hot breakfast and was on the water @ 7:05. Had a cliff bar and nuts for breakfast in the boat.

Made a pretty average 4mph according to the GPS once I got going w/o working too hard. Made it from Bull Hollow @ RM-84/85 to the South end of Bowknot Bend which is almost to RM-65. I was thinking about continuing on to bank some extra miles but a swirling wind came up at 1pm and an easy landing presented itself. So with today’s work of 20mi I am back on schedule.

The canyon walls have gotten really huge and impressive. Absolutely stunningly good. I heard some rocks falling at about RM-68 which made me a bit leery of camping on the banks on the outside of the bends, not very wide between the water & the beginning of the slope/cliff. Probably better odds of getting hit by lightning…twice, but I’ll explain…

It occurred to me today that I am bad at decision making. Once I get something in my head that I want to do, there are very few things that will stop me.

2:54pm – the wind may have just died just as a tandem canoe and a pair of kayakers (not Dave & Jenny) went by…

So, yeah, thinking things through is not my strong suit. Take this trip; Every person I mentioned it to was deeply concerned and in retrospect, justifiably so. Granted, it is among the easier river trips one could take of this distance but:
  • My fitness level is not good.
  • My backcountry camping/survival skills are slim
  • My canoeing experience is minimal…solo experience = 0

I mean this could go quite bad. Should I have taken their concern more seriously? Probably. Should I have given this more thought or done something less challenging? Probably. Is everything going to work out fine? Probably. But…

It speaks to another thing I need to work on in that:
a)    I need to respect the advice of others rather than being offended at having my judgment questioned.
b)    I need to grant more involvement in my decision making to Kathy.

In the six years I have known her, I’ve never known her to make a bad decision. Perhaps overly cautious at times, but she has never done anything genuinely dumb. I cannot make that claim.

Enough introspection! I’m getting depressed!

Water supply is holding out fine. Probably need to be drinking more than I am. Especially given the mileage I did today. Ive almost killed the first 2.5ga container and in reality I should be ½ way through the second.

The boat is handling well when it’s calm. Even with the weight though I still get pushed around a fair bit in the wind. Two paddlers would make it no problem or less so at least except in conditions like yesterday. Before I bailed out on that ledge I was taking the occasional wave over the bow. Not a lot of water got in, But it was enough to scare me a bit. My paddling is definitely improving as well.

WOW! Big random wind gust just blew through. Pulled the stakes out and almost rolled the tent. Tent and everything in it is covered in sand. Once I’m sure the wind is done I’ll have to get my sponge out of the boat and mop up in there. Glad I hadn’t rolled out my sleeping bag.

Back to the paddling…Definitely have found that a controlled stroke, ie pulling the boat past the paddle, is better than the old Hawaiian “Power Stroke” Ive been using. Way more efficient since I need fewer corrections, thus much less effoert and by doing so I can pretty easily do 4mph w/o too much effort.

The quiet is ASTONISHING!!! At one point this morning I fumbled my Nalgene bottle and it sounded like a gunshot in the canyon. You can hear birds fly by. Not their calling, but the air moving over their wings. You can hear clouds of gnats from 100yds away.

Came across a couple on quads who were on the Spring Canyon trail followed by two jeepers. Those were the first people I’d encountered other than those on my shuttle.

Saw 3-4 more beaver this morning. I was unable to tell if any had just been recently stuffed.

Tried to check out the “Hey Joe” Uranium mine but beavers had damned the channel upstream and the downstream end was too shallow to allow me to backpaddle up-river.

I was able though to land @ the “D. Julien” inscription. It wasn’t visible from the trail and the GPS coordinate was pointing up a rock fall to a terrace above. I thought for a second about the kid in “Between a rock and a hard place” and decided not to try climbing up there….which is what got me to thinking about my decision making….

Definitely need more substantial tent stakes. The aluminum ones that come with it pull out really easily…especially in sand. I’ve had to re-stake the tent three times now from the occasional gust. They are becoming less frequent though.

7:00pm - Just finished eating dinner. Freeze dried Lasagna. More accurately, Lasagna “style” hamburger helper. Not bad, especially with some Tabasco. Wouldn’t serve it to friends at home though.

While eating I watched a bunch of ravens ride a thermal up the cliff opposite my camp then disappear over the edge. Never seen a non-raptor do that.

I can hear bats clicking away over the Tamarisk behind me. Wish they’d come down here after the flys. No mosquitoes tonight though. I’ll take the trade. Interesting, w/o Kathy around the mosquitoes bite me, I guess she is a sweeter option…less hairy too.

I sure miss her right now. I don’t think she’d be enjoying the trip, but I’d love for her to see this and I’d love to give her a hug right now.

$hit! Crying again. Gonna read a book for a while and hit the sack.

Day #4
Wednesday – 22 Sep 2010

2:42pm – Up before dawn again today after an awful nights sleep. Just couldn’t get or stay comfortable last night. I must have been awake 8-10 different times through the night.

Felt lousy when I rolled out, but broke camp quickly and got on the water at 7:05. Felt quite stiff and creaky for about the first hour. Passed the four dudes (2 in kayaks, 2 in a canoe) after being underway for about 1:45. They’d camped at a gorgeous spot at the southern end of horseshoe canyon (RM-59/60). That’s the kind of spot I have been hoping for. Easy pull-out, sheltered from the wind, nice and grassy, great view. Epic. My spot last night wasn’t so hot on a big wide open sandbar. Epic view and the pullout was easy, but it was a long trudge across the soft sand to where I had my tent. Couldn’t get out of the wind and the Tamarisk was impenetrable. I have sand all over everything from the wind.

Back to today…

So, upon passing the 4 dudes at RM-60 I had hit the ½-way mark on my trip. A bit excited about that and by then my morning stiffness had subsided. I felt good, if a little tired in the shoulders and was able to make good progress.

The canyon walls are getting higher & steeper by the mile, though the canyon is getting wider, as is the river. This has made navigation a bit trickier as it is tougher to discern the channel. I nearly ran aground twice in trying to guess which side of a sandbar to take. Also, the rivers course has become more profoundly southerly and less meandering. The longer-straighter stretches of river pose three problems:

  • There is less difference in the speed of the flow in the channel and in the shallows so I have to work harder to find the swift/deep water
  • The river slows quite a bit. Easily .5-1mph compared to the bends so I have to work harder to maintain the same pace.
  • The straight bits offer an uninterrupted path for the wind which always seems to be blowing up-river…so again, I have to work harder…and the wind chop makes the navigation tougher too as it makes it tougher to see the current.

I did get a bit of wind today coming out of “Hell Roaring Canyon” that was at my back. At one point I was doing over 6mph. Sweet, but short lived.

I passed by Mineral Bottom at about 10am. Pretty eerie place. Cars parked here and there but nobody around. There was a 2wd Toyota pickup sitting there with a really nice Wenonah Kevlar canoe on it. Thought about a trade…..but didn’t.

Got to the “Point Bottom” area about noon and decided to keep going until I found a nice camp spot….then the sky got dark…then the thunder rolled…then the lightning flashed…then True took the first freaking camp spot he could.

Setting up a tent in a gully-washing desert thunderstorm…check that off the “stuff I’ve done” list. It poured buckets while I set up the tent. Not surprisingly, quite a lot of water gets into the tent through the mesh before the rain-fly goes on. Luckily, I packed a “Sham-Wow” and I did say wow. It dried up the whole inside of the tent and cleaned most of the dust from last night...then the rain promptly stopped…naturally.

This gave me a chance to jump in the river to get all the dirt off of me and walk around to take some photos. Before the rain really came down I checked out a prospective campsite in the canyon between RM-49/48. There was no flat ground that wasn’t covered in desert lichen which is a protected species. But there was an Anassasi cliff dwelling there that wasn’t on any of the river guides. It was built in dry-stack masonry and big enough for maybe 2-3 people to sleep in. Cool as heck to get a close look at it.

3:20pm – So I’m in my tent because it’s raining again. I’m camped in a small alcove on the west side of the river just downstream of RM-48. I wanted to be on “Point Bottom” on the other side of the river but as the storm rolled in a suitable landing didn’t present itself and I didn’t want to find out if a dude in a fiberglass canoe was conductive to lightning. I don’t love camping this close to the cliffs but I didn’t have a lot of choice. Praying that the rocks up top stay there with this rain.

4:43pm – Still raining off/on. Never actually stops long enough to consider it done. Occasional thunder provides very impressive sustain on the echos. Hope it lets up so I can go outside and cook a hot dinner.

6:30pm – The rain let up…knock on wood…I think that might be it. Don’t see any clouds. Hope so, because it’s warm and about 1000% humidity inside the tent. I’d like to open the vestibules and get some airflow in there.

Dinner was a freeze dried Chili-Mac. Actually…pretty f’ing good. Or I’m really hungry. I added up the caloric content of what I’ve eaten in the past 48hrs ~750 calories per day plus whatever is in a 3-4 handfuls of trail mix. No wonder I didn’t feel strong this morning.  I need to remind myself to eat more tomorrow.

BTW, the little single serving wine boxes from target…pure genius…again, Thanks Kathy!

Which leads me to something I was thinking of while waiting out the rain; This is fun. When done I’ll relish the accomplishment. But honestly, I don’t know that I’d do something like this again. The feeling of guilt I have right now is like nothing I have ever experienced. I know some couples to “separate vacations” but I don’t think that’s me, especially where something like this is concerned. I know Kathy is worried about me right this second and that thought is kinda killing me.

I wouldn’t rule out a solo fishing trip, or a ski trip in the Sierras or something, but I doubt I’ll ever do something this remote, this long again.

Being married to Kathy is the greatest gift God has ever granted me. To risk that and to put her through the worry I’m sure she is in is maybe the most selfish thing I’ve done. I apologize for that Kathy and I promise not to do this to you again.

…crying 3 out of 4 days so far…geez…

Going to try to read a bit before it gets too dark to do so.

Oh yeah, not to self; When grabbing a travel size tootpaste from the bathroom make sure it contains toothpaste. There’s maybe enough in this thing to brush my teeth 2-3 times if I used the normal amount. I’ve had to ration it. I’m sure my breath is pretty alarming right now.

I’ll be up early again tomorrow. The goal is Anderson bottom at Bonita Bend, RM-31 if all goes well, knock on wood, should be there around noon-1pm.

7:17pm – Just as I finished the above it’s started to rain again. So much for opening the tent. Sounds nice though.

8:15pm – Hellacious thunderstorm began 30min ago. Dumping. Thunder/lightning every 5-7sec. I dunno if it’s actually raining harder than earlier today or if it’s my imagination but where I’m camped, this is kinda scary….

Day #5
Thursday – 23 Sep 2010

6:17am – Hmm, either the alarm on my watch didn’t go off or I didn’t hear it with my arm in the sleeping bag. Either way, I’m getting a little later start today.

The thunder and lightning stopped @ about 10pm last night. Fell asleep about then. Not sure how long the rain lasted, but it’s clear this morning and there is a light breeze this morning. Hoping that’s it for the weather. Gotta get outta the sack and get going!

5:26pm – Camped at Anderson Bottom, RM-31

Absolutely spectacular day today. Even with the slightly later start I made my goal easily by 12:15. Perfect paddling conditions today. At first light when I got on the river a low fog hung over the river. Totally something out of a spooky movie. The fog hung from the surface up to about 4’ high which made navigation challenging, and if possible, it made things even quieter. I was able to paddle right up to a few herons and beavers before they even knew I was there.

The current seems to have picked up as well. Where yesterday I was doing 4-4.5mph today I was routinely over 5mph except in the very straight and very slow stretches of river like thought Potato Bottom RM-36/39 and Upheaval Bottom RM-43/45.

The navigation in those areas is tough. Grounded twice today. Nothing scary about it but it’s a surprise when the boat suddenly skids to a halt. The river is quite silty so if the paddle doesn’t happen to touch bottom first you have no indication as to the river depth until you feel the bottom on the paddle or hear the hull hitting the bottom.

No wind to speak of today which made things much more pleasant.

Passed Tom (the retired gentleman from Pensacola) @ Fort Bottom. He apparently went by my camp during the first thunderstorm. That had to be spooky since he was in an aluminum canoe. He was camped just upstream of the 4-dudes who had ANOTHER epic campsite. Those guys have either been here before, or have some insane dumb-luck.

But where campsites are concerned, True wins today!

Arrived at Anderson Bottom @ 12:15 and found a takeout with a fantastic campsite but… there was 3 canoes there. They were fully loaded though so I couldn’t tell if they were coming or going. There was nobody around so I couldn’t ask so I paddled a bit further downstream and found another takeout spot at the downstream end of Anderson Bottom. It was a horribly silty takeout but a nice campsite. Again, a loaded canoe sitting there, but nobody around. Took a chance and paddled back upstream to the first spot upriver and arrived just as the group of six came out of the path in the Tamarisk. Nice folks, all from Orange County and the best part is, they were leaving!!!

Absolutely epic spot. There is an old spring in the Cliffside across the bottom. Hewn out of the rock face into a cistern by some ages ago farmer or rancher. Apparently the water is safe to drink as it is listed as a water source in the guidebook. Not taking a chance though. I still have plenty of water that I brought.

Tom is here with me, and Jenny & Dave are camped about 100yds south of here. Nice to have a little company.

Tried to eat a bit more today. Cliff bar straight away and trail mix 2-3 time during my paddle and just had a bowl of instant oatmeal with a couple of handfuls of trail mix mixed in once I got done setting up my tent.

Physically, I am feeling great. Shoulders are a bit tired now and then, but no pain. My back has been giving me no trouble at all. Got a thorn in the palm of my right hand in the pad beneath my little finger. The puncture spot is a little red. Trying to keep my hands clean. Have a crack on my left heel. Doesn’t feel good. Nothing I can do to keep it clean when I’m in/out of the water and much 3-4 times a day. Should be ok though. Doesn’t seem to be getting worse.

After setting up camp I used the GPS to find a couple of Petroglyph panels in Anderson Bottom. Bitchin! Only able to take pics of one though. The sun was glaring out the second panel.

Had dinner, wine and good conversation with Tom. Interesting guy. Ex-IRS criminal investigator. Dinner was Chicken/Rice. Actually, it was really good.

Goal tomorrow is Horse Canyon @ RM-14/15 but if something presents itself just shy of there I’ll grab it. I’m now less than 2 days paddle from the confluence and the shuttle pickup isn’t until after 11am on Sunday.

Day #6
Friday – 24 Sep 2010

2:57pm – Just finished setting up camp @ Horse Canyon RM-14+

Had another relatively sleepless neight. Not sure why. Wasn’t cold, hot, windy, raining, storming or any other sort of disturbance, just couldn’t stay asleep.

Up early at any rate, couldn’t have slept in if I’d wanted to. A bit chilly when I hit the river, about 61deg. Wouldn’t have been as bad had I not rinsed my clothes the night before. They didn’t dry. Wore my SVH3 wicking shirt today which explained the odd look I got from some folks later on. Two giant breasts on the shirt with a running beer-toting bunny…uh what?

Tom crawled out of his tent as I was getting done loading up and saw me off. It was nice having some company last night. Really interesting guy.

Passed the 4-dudes right away at the South end of Anderson Bottom. They seem like a good bunch. Every time I pass them they are yukking it up.

Passed the Orange County group @ around RM-25. They were just breaking camp. Stopped and chatted with them for about 10min before I moved on.

Don’t recall where I passed them, but the 4 folks from Nevada caught me around RM-19 when I slowed to have a bite and some water. Really nice folks. Paddled with them for a couple of hours.

I decided this morning that I’d camp at the first opportunity after RM-20. No longer any reason to push the pace. Began looking for spots after that but nothing presented itself until around RM-17/18  had to do a long back paddle up a tricky slack water to a beautiful looking side canyon on river left. Nice easy rocky takeout and I could see a clearing with a couple of huge cottonwoods about 30yd back from the river. Though I’d scored a winner of a campsite. I scampered up the rockes and was walking the path back to the clearing and there was a HUGE rattler in the path. His head was the size of the back of my hand. He was surprised to see me and immediately coiled to strike. I was too far away for him to do so but I began backing away none the less. He started rattling vigorously which apparently alerted a second snake in the grass behind me and to my left who began rattling as well.

I sensed that these two had no interest in sharing their canyon with me and I slowly and carefully made my exit.

The Orange County group caught me as I was back paddling to the aforementioned canyon and one of them remarked, “Every time we see you, you are going the wrong way.” Funny.

Continued on by myself looking for campsite but not seeing anything promising. The canyon walls have closed in and there is little “bottom land” in the bends. As I approached Horse Canyon at RM-14+ I could see that the stream coming out of the canyon was running briskly and it had formed a double channel with an island in the middle and small rapids on both sides.  I chose the right channel thinking I might be able to do an eddy turn behind the entrance of the creek and perhaps find a spot in Horse Canyon.

Nuthin doing. I got ½ way through my turn and the current shot me past the eddy. Flat boats don’t pivot well with one paddler.

Now I’m stuck in the side channel which is winding swiftly back and forth between gravel bars. I made the first few just fine. Actually quite fun. After that, it got increasingly shallow and I grounded twice before making it to the point where the channels recombined. Had a choice between two quite nice sandbars to camp on. One above and once below the secondary channel. The group from Nevada were parked on the bar below having lunch. I stopped with them and had a chat and a bite to eat and they departed.

Decided to set up camp here. So much for truncating my days paddle. I wound up right where I’d originally planned.

Really beautiful conditions today. The increasing current made for easy paddling with minimal effort. The canyon walls closed back in after Tuxedo Bottom at RM-24 and the river has narrowed as well as making the channel much more defined.

The canyon is ~100-150yds wide at most at this point and the river is 40-50yds wide. From this point on, landings will be more scarce as it is nearly a sheer drop from the cliff wall to the waters edge.

I have all day tomorrow to cover the remaining 14mi to the confluence with the Colorado. As swift as the current is getting I don’t imagine that being difficult barring heavy winds. I’m going to shoot for landing @ Jasper Canyon to check out the ruins there. It’s only 4mi downstream so I should be there once it’s good and light out. I don’t plan to leave at 0-dark-30 tomorrow either. May actually have a hot breakfast.

Nearly everyone I’ve spoken to is planning to camp @ lower Spanish Bottom. That’ll make it easy for Tex’s to pick us up I suppose. Risky though. If you miss it the next stop is Lake Powell via Cataract Canyon…yikes.

4:05pm – The sun just dipped behind the canyon wall. It went from 101deg on this sandbar to 84deg in about 30min.

7:24pm – The couple across the way stake a gauge at water level this afternoon. Looks like the river has risen 2-3” in that time. My canoe is about 1’ above waterline and tied off. My tent is a good 3’ up. Should be fine but will check again before hitting the sack.

Had Jamaican Jerk Chicken & Rice for dinner. Hit it with a splash of olive oil and hot sauce. Awesome.

Had two boxes of wine while eating/reading. Feeling slightly buzzed and quite happy.

The temp gizmo on my watch could be a POS. Experiment: put the watch on my table for a few min then check again…Duh..temp gizmo is inaccurate when watch is in your sleeve, it’s actually about 65deg.

8pm – Crawled into the tent hoping for a good nights sleep. Sure missing Kathy. Counting the hours until I get back to Moab around 4pm on Sunday and I can talk to her. Seems like forever since I last heard her voice, let alone hugged her.

The rapid upstream sounds nice.

Day #7
Saturday – 25 Sep 2010

4:40pm – Camped @ Spanish Bottom with the Orange County group who are on the same shuttle out in the morning.

Crossed the confluence @ 1:30pm. Thus completing 120mi in 6 days, 12hrs, 51min.

Got on the water a bit late this morning at 8:05. Had another kinda sleepless night. Not sure why. I think I slept through from about 4am on w/o waking up.

River level up again today by about 2” and a ton of debris in the water. Stuff that must have washed in after the thunderstorms the other day. Sticks, logs, ground up wood pulp, leaves and Tamarisk needles. Thick like a slurpee in places. Canyon walls progressively closed in. So much so that the GPS quit @ about RM-7.

Stopped at Jasper Canyon for a brief hike. Was able to get photos of two of the ruins. There are supposed to be more but I’ll be damned if I could find them. The ones I did find were hiding in plain sight. Walked right by the first time w/o seeing them.

Really cool canyon. Two small waterfalls in the back. Stood in one for a while and it felt great.

The last 9mi of paddling was really quite easy. Current was pretty swift and with the narrowing, the navigation was no problem.

Expected some considerable turbulence at the confluence. If it was dark, you’d have had no idea of the transition between the two rivers. The only clue was the blending of the yoohoo colored Green River to the ochre colored Colorado.

Quick run of 3mi down to the campsite @ the North end of Spanish Bottom. Had to navigate a small, but easy rapid between the confluence and Spanish Bottom.

Strange. Here with the group from Orange County and Nevada. While Tom’s company the other night was welcome and pleasant, this is a bit overwhelming. Everyone is super nice but there are 6-7 different conversations going on at once and it’s a bit much.

Day #8
Sunday – 26 Sep 2010

7:26am – Pick up day!

Slept in a bit. I’ll take my time getting packed, mop out the canoe then wait in the shade till 11am when the jet boat arrives.

An odd pain/numbness in my right arm/hand this morning. Probably fatigue related. Guessing it’ll be fine in a day or two…

The full slideshow of all of my photos can be found at the link below. Fair warning, there are A LOT of photos!

Click Here For Fullscreen View of Slideshow


  1. Dude, great adventure. Plus: easy prose and well-composed photos.


  2. I'm doing a similar trip this summer, so while doing some research I came across your blog. Fantastic and really helpful for me to hear about how it went for you. I wonder if you can let me know what kind of maps, guidebooks or other logistical info you used that you found helpful in prepping for the trip. Thanks.

    1. Apologies for the interminable delay in responding to this. It has taken me ages to figure out how to configure "blogger" to allow me to reply to comments on my own blog. Turns out it was a browser setting on my end.

      The guidebook I used was Belknap's "Canyonlands River Guide" which can be found at this link:

  3. True, I'll echo what kmclouse said above. A buddy of mine and I are doing the same trip in kayaks in early October. It was useful to see what worked for you and what didn't, and I enjoyed following along with a USGS topo. Nicely done.


  5. Something went wrong, but I meant to explain that following my earlier comment, the URL above is the account of our trip. Thanks again for your insight!

    1. Apologies for the interminable delay in responding to this. It has taken me ages to figure out how to configure "blogger" to allow me to reply to comments on my own blog. Turns out it was a browser setting on my end.

      I'm very glad that you found this helpful. I really enjoyed reading about your trip as well.

      I'd love to return to the Green. It was a great to find a few folks that want to go with me!

  6. Your Aunt Terry thinks your blog is amazing! You are very talented.... much love.

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