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 Post subject: Green River Utah
PostPosted: May 16th, 2013, 4:27 pm 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2016
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
Ruby Ranch to the Colorado confluence, May 3 – 12, 2013

Slideshow: ... May%202013

More better photos from Cap’t K and The Sprite, including birdlife and side canyon hikes: ... ver%20Trip

Trip report to follow eventually; it’s going to take a week to get the red desert dust off (and out of) my gear.

I need to start looking for a 2WD Tacoma. I’m going back this fall to roam the desert southwest for a more extended spell.

 Post subject: Re: Green River Utah
PostPosted: May 17th, 2013, 1:48 pm 
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Joined: December 2nd, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 3731
Location: Grand Haven, Michigan U.S.A.
Mike, I did Crystal Geyser (closer to Green River) to the Confluence in 2003. It was an incredibly memorable trip. I'd highly recommend the San Juan as well. The side canyons are awesome, especially Trin Alcove. That's an awesome campsite as well.

When your kicking around out west this fall, make sure to spend some time in the Grand Staircase/Escalante. That is some really awesome territory. I recommend taking several gallons of water and heading down the Hole-in-the-rock Road. The side canyons of the Escalante River is well worth exploring.


 Post subject: Re: Green River Utah
PostPosted: May 18th, 2013, 1:18 pm 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2016
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
pknoerr wrote:
The side canyons are awesome, especially Trin Alcove. That's an awesome campsite as well.

We had Trin-Alcove in mind as a first night’s camp below Ruby Ranch, but a foursome in two rental Grummans was at Ruby waiting for their self-shuttle drivers to return, and we overheard them mention that site as their hoped for destination.

Since they were taking out a Mineral Bottom we pulled over on a sandbar to muckle up and allowed them to pass us by a few miles downriver. Slaughter Canyon/F Bottom was very nice as well and we didn’t want them to feel there was a race for prime campsites. I may be an old, arthritic fat man, but you don’t want to race me.

pknoerr wrote:
When your kicking around out west this fall, make sure to spend some time in the Grand Staircase/Escalante. That is some really awesome territory. I recommend taking several gallons of water and heading down the Hole-in-the-rock Road. The side canyons of the Escalante River is well worth exploring.

I’ve now done 15 trips in the western US since my first time out in ‘76, many of them in the Utah deserts and points south (Sonoran Desert, the Chiricahuas, Big Bend, and etc). The Maze, the Needles and etc are familiar. One of my companions on the Green had done a 28 day solo hike along the Escalante for his 50th birthday self-challenge a few years ago.

There is so much out there that I need at least a few months to travel to my favorite places. And at this point, given the opportunity, I’d rather float it than hike it.

PostPosted: May 18th, 2013, 7:28 pm 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2016
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
(Very long)

We left Maryland on the morning of April 29th and headed west for 2000 mile on I-70. The Swamper had thoughtfully brought a large vehicle GPS unit, in case we somehow got lost in Breezewood PA or going around the Indianapolis beltway.

The big Ford E-150 van had three boats racked – two soloized OT Penobscots and one Wenonah Sundowner – gear for four people stored inside and, with some finagling, room to sleep on a foam mattress in the back.

Non-stop shift driving saw us in western Kansas 24 hours later for a layover day. The sidewinds across Kansas were fierce. With a tall roof line, 3 boats racked and a prairie Beaufort Scale of Oh Crap, where it was necessary to hold the steering wheel 15 degree to starboard to go straight (and remember to counter steer when going through an underpass).

The canoes were racked on four crossbars spaced along the van’s 11 foot roofline, each boat with at least two belly lines, bow & stern lines and solidly captured between ash gunwale chalks fore and aft. Still the best speed we could manage is 60mph along the posted 75. Even at that cautionary speed a gust of wind destroyed one of the gunwale chalks and the Sundowner began to dance wildly before we pulled over to apply some additional ropeage.

The Swamper had researched places to camp east of Denver and came up with a beautiful site – Lake Scott State Park ... ions/Scott

Bluffs, canyons, springs and lots of history, including the easternmost Pueblo in the US. Our visit to an otherwise empty park featured a bizarre encounter with 6 local teenagers, including one riding in the trunk of their tiny kid car, out of the trunk and back in, now toting an assault rifle that we watched him fetch from a hiding place back in Timber Canyon.

I will be bringing the 12 gauge next trip.

After a restless night’s sleep, during which the teenagers returned at midnight only to find the ballsy but unarmed Swamper out of bed and scowling at them as they drove past eyeballing him, we packed up and headed to Denver.

Maybe. A spring snowstorm overnight had dumped 12” wet heavy snow on Denver and more on the mountain passes. Portions of I-70 were still closed beyond Denver.

Fortunately the Swamper had arranged overnight accommodations with friends Rocky and Cathy in the foothills. Walking into our host’s home the first thing I noticed was a framed photo on the wall. A photo of Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Ranger, one of my favorite places on earth.

I don’t much like staying in other people’s houses, but I was mighty comfy there.

The next morning Willy and the Sprite picked up Cap’t K at the Denver airport, using Rocky’s 4WD Daihatsu

Yes, Rocky has a Rocky.

With Cap’t K aboard we headed over the still slick passes into Utah, down into the desert and onto scenic route 128 alongside the Colorado into Moab.

Holy crikies, once sleepy Moab is now quite the hopping town. I was in Moab on cross country trips in 1976 and ’78, and several times in the 80’s. But not since a family trip in the mid-90’s.

Outdoor recreation has consumed Moab. Biking and Mt biking have exploded. So has off-roading in everything from Jeeps and buggies to quads and other contraptions. When I saw the billboard for a zipline I tasted a little vomit.

Next morning we were at Texs Riverways unloading boats and gear for the long shuttle ride into Ruby Ranch.

We were accompanied on the shuttle by Lucjusz and Ursula, expat Poles living in Seattle that rent a canoe from Texas and do this trip routinely. We would pass and be passed by them over the course of the next 10 days.

Our shuttle driver Kenny did a commendable job of piloting the trailer and keeping up a practiced stream of informational patter, although his peculiar instructions for unloading the canoes – “Stand like me and lift the boat off with your right hand like this….no, like me…no, no, your other right hand…no, like me…” made me wonder how I had managed to unload canoes for the past 40 years.

I gave up following Kenny’s instruction and motioned for The Swamper to take over; he is better at following brusque instruction and has been unloading canoe trailers for 30 years.

A quick packing job and I was afloat. Afloat and alone. Briefly, as I waited in an eddy just below the confluence with the San Rafael. The Swamper was carrying much of the required, common or necessary gear in his boat – extra PFD, fire pan, toilet system and wag bags, tarp, poles and stakes, fire-in-a-can, extra chairs, 2 cases of beer, 20L of water - and I wanted to be close by in case I got thirsty.

Cap’t K, The Sprite, and Willy soon appeared and we began the journey. A party setting a self-shuttle with rental Grummans had been prepping at Ruby Ranch (mile 97) while we left, and hearing that they hoped to camp for the night at Three Canyon/Trin-Alcove (mile 90) we mucked up to let them (eventually) pass and continued downstream to Slaughter Canyon/F Bottom (mile 85.5).

The Swamper had paddled Labyrinth and Stillwater canyons several times before, and knew the best of the ledge and plateau sites for accessibility, tent space, shade and side canyon hikes.

Slaughter Canyon was worthy of a 2 night stay. An A+ site, with an easy sandy landing and a short, steep, sandy climb up to a cottonwoody plateau with room for 4+ tents and a common/kitchen area. For our dining pleasure The Swamper had brought not one, not two, but three folding side tables.

Slaughter Canyon was a harbinger of all sites to come, and they just got better and better. The Swamper knew where he was aiming each day downriver, and four of the side-canyon sites selected would be in my lifetime top ten.

The Swamper provided the day’s GPS tally:
Ruby Ranch to Slaughter Canyon/F Bottom
10.6 river miles paddled.
2:59 hours paddling time
3.6 MPH average paddling speed
1:24 hours stop time

Cottonwood trees seemed to be a good indicator of open tent space on plateau sites, much like stands of Pine are a dry ground beacon when camping on swamp rivers. Such sites are routinely used and typically have a path through the Tamarisk

Or, thanks to the Tamarisk Leaf Beetle, a border of dead stabby tammys

How to get rid of dead Tamarisk trees is another question, a task akin to building the pyramids, but perhaps someday the willows will return in natural abundance. The beaver and paddlers will equally rejoice.

The Swamper produced a spooky flamed fire-in-a can for night one, and a regular tammy twig fire-in-a-pan on night two as we burned accumulated paper waste. The ashes went into used wag bags before sealing and storing.

Slaughter Canyon was awesome in every meaning of the word; in a 360 degree slow pirouette view there were displays of something spectacular in every field of view.

Late at night, under one fire or another, The Swamper would pull out his Martin Backpacker or Little Plucky banjo and quietly fingerpick. The Swamper is the rare picker who can make a banjo sound soothing.

Two days of canyon hiking, relaxing and shaking the skeen of syphilization and we were once again afloat. The sun was blazing, so the warming desert winds were blowing upriver. We were headed for Twomile Canyon at mile 61, just below Bowknot Bend.

A 25 mile day into the wind would seem ambitious, but the current was moving along at 3 or 4 MPH. Piece of cake for us, but we passed a beached group paddling two rafts and four paddleboards whose day was likely more trying.

The wind in canyon is almost always oppositional. As the sun rises and heats the surrounding desert floor above the warming air fills the canyon and rushes upriver. We made a practice of breaking camp early(ish) and being on the water by 8:00 or 9:00.

The Swamper provided the following beta for the day:
Slaughter Canyon to Twomile Canyon
25.3 river miles paddled
6 hours paddling time
3.7 mph with a few muckles thrown in

Twomile again offered a good sandbar landing and multiple tent spaces atop a rocky plateau with shade from both the western cliff face and cottonwoods overhead.

We were the next day to meet up with Rocky, courtesy of a Texs shuttle to Mineral Bottom (mile 52), where he will join us for the 2nd half of the trip. Rocky would be toting several gallons of replenishment water and two dry bags of cold beer and extra foodstuff goodies for the Swamper.

The plan was to meet Texs, as instructed, at Mineral Bottom between 10:30 and 11:30. They too would be bringing us water and had offered (think generous tip) to carry out our accumulated trash and wag bags.

We arrived at Mineral Bottom at 10:15 to find Texs already come and gone. No matter, Rocky had extra water to fill our depleted dromedaries, and goodie bags for The Swamper.

We loaded Rocky’s 10 foot kayak with his necessities. Fortunately he was toting gear in backpacker mode, and everything fit inside a Liquid Logic Remix XP10

His wee craft took me back to the 80’s and doing long trips in an Old Town Pack, purchased from The Sprite back in the days when he loved retail. More power too ya Rocky, but The Swamper muttered a prediction that you will soon be soloing a rental tandem barge down the Green in support of Cathy’s Remix XP9.

Below Mineral Bottom the wind commenced to howl, and a small riffle offered standing waves and whitecaps as the wind blew hard upstream against the current. Rocky’s 10’ kayak was the boat choice of the day.

We made camp for the night at one of my favorite sites, Horsethief Canyon. The Swamper provided the following beta for the day:

Twomile Canyon to Horsethief Canyon
16.4 river miles paddled
3:58 hours paddling time
4.1 MPH paddling speed
53 minutes stop time.

Horsethief Canyon (mile 46) had it all. A relatively easy landing, short gear carry, astounding views in every direction, great canyon hiking and multiple level tent spots and shaded nooks and overhangs.

Nooks and overhangs that have been used for thousands of years, as evidenced by the petroglyphs on rocky overhangs in camp and the field of knapped chert on the cliffs above. Horsethief needs at least a 2-day stay.

Our party hiked off into the canyon early on the second day, leaving The Swamper to hold down camp. The Swamper later told tales of encountering Girl 1 and Girl 2, and soundly defeating them with his all-terrain bocce set. In The Swamper’s telling various favors were bestowed in honor of his bocce prowess, but veracity of The Swamper’s tales are typically calculated by the number of Guinness cans he has emptied.

Fortunately we had erected the parawing (mostly for shade) the day before, because as the canyoneers scrambled ever upwards a spring storm blew over with thunder, rain and sleet. The Swamper scurried to close the party’s open tent vestibules and secure wettable gear, and soon rain and sleet were pouring off the low corners of the parawing.

Pouring off the parawing and filling buckets, pans and coolers with cold fresh water. Once the canyoneers returned a bit of Tom Sawyer fence whitewashing convinced Willy and Rocky to hang the gravity filter and replenish our water supplies. And to chill The Swamper’s beer supply in a cooler of sleet water to be filtered later.

Happy days; plenty of freshwater and cold beer at mile 46. Life is good.

The rare desert clouds and sprinkles lasted on and off for 3 days, and The Swamper deemed it weather of the finest kind. The cooler days largely eliminate the upriver winds, allow the opportunity to position the canoe mid-canyon, away from the tammys on the inside turns and the cliff faces on the outside turns and simply drift inattentively in the 3 to 4 mph current.

A most delightful way to travel.

Those cloudy skies also provided major relief from the blazing desert sun and heat, and of course brought the desert flowers to bloom. I may never see such weather again in that place, but I’ll take it when I get it.

Two relaxing days at Horsethief and we were back afloat. Destination – Anderson Bottom/Bonita Bend at mile 31, after a mid-day stop to hike to the ruins and cabin at Fort Bottom (mile 40).

A natural amphitheatre a mile downstream of Ft Bottom creates an aural oddity; for 60 seconds or so the voices of our party hiking up to the ruins were as distinct as if they were standing alongside.

The visual oddity of the Green is the usual big canyon phenomenon; it takes a while to become accustomed to judging river distance when the backdrop scale is massive cliff faces far in the distance. What seems like a few hundred yards to an easterner’s unpracticed eye turns out to be a mile or more away.

Along the way I passed the Grummaniers packing their canoes, but being far in front of our group didn’t feel it ethical to frontrun them to secure a choice site, and so pulled over on a sandy beach a mile past their site until they had finished packing and paddle past.

The management practices on this stretch of the Green, perhaps driven by the availability of jetboat pick up at the confluence with the Colorado, meant that we saw very few people over the course of the trip, especially below Mineral Bottom.

One possibility that intrigues me for a future group trip would be to secure two permits, allowing a split group to leapfrog, sometimes camping together and sometimes camping apart. That kind of change in pace and group dichotomy appeals to me.

Our group coalesced and we camped for the night at Anderson Bottom/Bonita Bend; a large cottonwooded meadow on an expansive bottomland with an easy beach landing. My least favorite of the sites we camped and not in my top 10. But still in my top 20 – gobs of tent and kitchen space and easy hiking across the bottom to granieries, old cabin sites and storage areas.

The Swamper performed his nightly ablutions of settling silty Green River water in collapsible buckets using alum. His formula to flocculate silty water:

2 teaspoons of alum in a 1 liter Nalgene type bottle. Fill with water and shake it up. Fill your settling bucket with river water. Add 2-3 capfuls of alum mix to the settling bucket. Vigorously stir 15 seconds in one direction using a circular motion to create a center whirlpool. Stir in the other direction 15 seconds. Sediment should mostly settle out in 45-60 minutes.

The Swamper neglected to cover the setting buckets, and the next morning two drowned mice stared up accusingly from the bottom. Word travels fast and the surviving mice had their revenge by eating holes in several of The Swamper’s dry bags.

The Swamper again provided the daily beta:
Horsethief Canyon to Anderson Bottom/Bonita Bend
14.9 river miles paddled
3:46 hours paddling time
1:36 hours stop time
Average paddling speed 4.0 MPH

The Swampers GPS elevation notes had consistently shown us gaining altitude and were declared ignorable.

Anderson Bottom/Bonita Bend was a single night’s stay and we pushed on downriver the next morning. Out in front once again I took a long, lingering sandbar break at Valentine Bottom a few miles downstream of camp. A beautiful and expansive sandbar that stretched for along a river bend between mile 29 and 26.

Cap’t K and The Sprite passed by and I saw them reappear miles downstream of the bend, paddling past The Sphinx.

I did not especially miss sandbar camping, with the inherent challenges of boat and gear blowing in the wind and sand infiltrating the tent, but if the wind is not howling I’ll spend a night on the Valentine Bottom sandbar next time.

I followed our passing party down to the night’s site at Turks Head (mile 21). The Swamper provided the now standard daily totals:

Anderson Bottom to Turks Head
10.6 river miles paddled
2:38 hours paddling time
4 mph paddling speed
0:58 stop time

Turks Head was, yet again, another spectacular site. Long and linear, stretching along a high sandy ledge. Shade was scare until late afternoon, and the landing was difficult for unloading multiple boats.

The Swamper chickeed up, clambered into our canoes floating in an eddy 3 feet below the rock ledge and scampered from boat to boat passing up gear. How much longer he can do this at age 52 is questionable, but I’ll take him while I’ve got him.

The now customary canyon hiking, camp dawdling and evening fire-in-a-can and finger picking of stringed instruments ensued and we launched the next morning for our last site, Water/Shot Canyon.

The Swamper’s usually tally of the day:

Turks Head to Water/Shot Canyon
River miles paddled – 17.2
4:03 hours paddling time
4.2 mph paddling speed
1:07 hours stop time.

Water/Shot Canyon was the best site yet. An easy landing, multiple sites on different levels, shaded cliff faces to escape the sun, deep nooks and overhangs for napping in the cool and a challenging canyon hike that saw The Sprite and Rocky eventually overlooking the confluence 4 miles downstream. The Sprite performed an Abbey-esque bit of canyoneering that involved jumping from a higher boulder to a lower boulder, without fully considering how he was going to jump back.

Water/Shot Canyon was another 2 day stay, and the Swamper pulled out every bit of excess food stuff, including the now ubiquitous (and Wag Bag filling) Fig Newtons and dried fruit, Nutella, natural peanut butter, an unopened block of sharp white cheese, pickle packs, sundry snacks and the last of the bread.

A feast ensued as the load was lightened and the last of the now tepid Guinness were tapped, spraying faux draught foam over the unwary.

We were reluctant to depart, even after a 2 day stay, but needed to meet our scheduled jetboat pickup on the Colorado. The Swamper provided no paddling beta for the last day’s paddle, but the 4 ½ miles to the confluence passed too quickly.

Rather than paddle down to Spanish Bottom we beached our canoes on a large sandbar immediately at the confluence, having discerned that the depth was the jetboat-required 3’ deep a canoe length from shore.

The Swamper knew that Spanish Bottom was likely too heavily peopled with other folk waiting for the jetboat, and the confluence sandbar eased our uncrowded reentry into syphilization. Not camping at Spanish Bottom overnight as I had thought we would was a boon, especially after we learned that a couple of mountain lions, habituated to humans, have been prowling that area.

In addition to the mountain lions Spanish Bottom was also occupied by other paddlers awaiting pick up, and by a group of NPS volunteers who had been digging out dead tammys, a job that will take several lifetimes.

Waiting on the beach we calculated how may boats we had passed or been passed by since Mineral Bottom; Lucjusz and Ursula in a rental tandem, two rental Grummans with a party of 4, Girl 1 and Girl 2 in a rental Grumman, two sea kayakers, and two rafts heading beyond the confluence to run Cataract Canyon.

8 boats and 12 people, all seen but briefly. Damn fine timing.

Texs pick up routine asks that the canoes be empty and clean of mud/sand, since they will be racked overhead on the jetboat, with gear staged and ready to transport. Kenny and Devin made short work of racking canoes and storing gear, almost like they do so for a living.

Ursula and Lucjusz were already aboard the jetboat when it arrived. The Swamper had given them two cold Chesterfield Ales at Ruby Ranch to start their trip, and they discussed their respective beer supplies. Both had Guinness; Lucjusz had 12 cans, The Swamper had 2 cases.

Both confessed to having harbored a plan to hand the other a Guinness for the jetboat ride upriver. And both confessed to having abandoned that plan as the last Guinness proved too tempting on the final night in canyon.

Not to worry. After Kenny and Devin and finished their cautions regarding the jetboat ride (at 30 mph your hat will blow off and we aren’t going back for it, sometimes the jets suck in a stick or other debris – don’t panic, this is normal, we need to see where we are going so please don’t wander around in the boat, etc) another passenger on the jetboat demonstrated a sterling shuttle trick, one that I will reprise next visit.

Said passenger stood up in front and announced that Texs had brought in a cooler for him. A cooler filled with ice cold beer. Each cold beer would cost $10, that amount to be added by the recipient to whatever they planned to tip Devin and Kenny.

Said passenger brought good beer. If he hadn’t been sitting two seats over I’d have hugged him. Never has a canned IPA tasted as fine, and our shuttle masters were handsomely rewarded.

The jetboat ride up the Colorado was impressive. This is a daily commute of sorts for the jetboat drivers, who know the location of every hidden sandbar and shallows. 30mph, zig zagging wildly from side to side around unseen obstacles, sometimes passing through narrow channels not much wider than the boat.

Texs was very observant and respectful of other paddlers and beached boats that we passed along the way, slowing from 30mph to a crawl without throwing a plowing wake. Once at Potash the passengers boarded a school bus, complete with kid-sized knee room between the seats, and the jetboat, still packed and racked with gear and boats, was loaded onto a trailer for the ride back to Moab.

Back in Moab Texs had our vehicles lined up out front (during the trip they are comfortingly locked in a fenced parking lot) and ready to go. Boats and gear come off the trailer in an expeditious routine and we were soon ready to hit the road.

We lay over for a night in Glenwood Springs, climbed the passes the next morning and dropped off Cap’t K at the Denver airport. One last serendipitous encounter ensued. The Sprite’s son Jeremy is a long haul trucker, plying his trade in the Pacific Northwest, Canada and the Rockies.

He was that very day dropping off a load at a construction site in Aurora. Just a few miles from the airport. At the same time we were delivering Cap’t K to catch her flight.

We found the (address-less) construction site in time to witness Jeremy backing a semi into a convoluted spot. All that practice backing up canoe trailers as a teenager finally paid off.

Father and son reunited through a chain link fence and we were soon on the road again, eastbound and down as Jeremy passed the word to his trucker brethren to keep an eye out for a canoe laden Ford van speeding across I-70

The return haul was a nonstop flight to Maryland, with a van rearrangement upgrade to first class travel – one sleeper, one navigator/sleeper and one driver. Gotta love eastern Colorado and Kansas for eating up miles; highway straight as an arrow, cruise control pegged at 76mph, thumbing it up to 80 or 85 to quickly pass the boat buffeting of double and sometimes triple semi rigs. Drive, he said, and drive we did.

Or almost a nonstop. After nearly 4000 miles of driving, avoiding snow, ice, road closures and somehow fortuitously passing every major city outside of morning or evening rush hour we came to an engine-off stop and sit on I-70 in western Maryland 100 miles from home.

The Swamper pulled out a cell phone and called a buddy at the Maryland Department of Transportation. Called him at home, on a Wednesday night. The Swamper’s source had received an alert of a tractor trailer on fire a few miles ahead, with all lanes shut down.

A lane eventually cleared and we wrapped up the adventure. The Swamper provided the following travel details:

17 days, 4384 road miles, 337.13 gallons of gas, 13 gas stops, 13.00 mpg average.

Dammit but I want a small diesel pick up. Like they have everywhere else in the world. Get with it Mr. Toyota. But we couldn’t have easily fit three boats, four people and a mountain of gear in a Tacoma.

The Clean up - there was a copious amount of red desert dust on everything. And in everything. Not just the tent and canoe, but inside and out on dry bags, barrels and stuff sacks. And now on the gear room rug.

The big blue van performed admirably, and it deserves a thorough wash, wax, vacuum and detail cleaning. The soloized Penobscot needs a bath as well; I couldn’t have picked big boy gear hauler for the Green.

I need to back wash the filter, rinse the dromedary bags, clean the toilet system, and wipe the dust from the blue barrel and dry bags inside and out. I see a full day of hose work in my future.

And I see a return to the Green sometime this fall.

PostPosted: May 19th, 2013, 1:37 pm 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2016
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
What worked:

Sun protection was vital, even with a few days of clouds and SPF 50. This is a desert river, and despite the morning and evening protection of steep canyon walls the sun is merciless. Sunburn or other health/heat/UV issues on a 10 day trip would be serious problem.

I used a UV protective sun hat with neck drape and a long sleeve UV shirt throughout. I don’t think the shirt will ever be clean again after 10 continuous days of Utah dust, mud, sweat and camp grime. The cuffs are black. The sun drape hat is likewise now filthy. I will never be in the desert without such apparel and will continue to wear them, begrimed with pride.

The ever present “wind chair”, with its high backed extension, provided much needed shade in camp. Except in the noonday sun; I had intended to buy a white golf umbrella and cut the handle off of that I could stick it in the chair’s backrest frame but never got around to it. That’s on the “To Do” list.

The Swamper carried in two Wind/Sun Chairs and the protection they afforded was advantageous when camp was unshaded.

The “lap blanket”. A piece of 90some percent UV cotton fabric cut and hemmed to 48” x 36”. I will never camp or paddle in the desert without one, and would have had The Swamper carry the 60/40 blend I have as a loaner if I had known how valuable it would prove.

Spread over my lap and knees on the river it offered complete sun protection, and trapped the cool river water temperature below. It was at least 10 degrees cooler under the lap blanket and kept my canteens from baking in the sun.

I used it in camp for sun protection as well, and during one buggy spell Cap’t K used it for fly protection. I need to get more UV material and make several more. And spray them with Permethrin. Packs down to the size of a softball and weights next to nothing.
Ledge and plateau camping. I had anticipated that we would sometimes (or often) be camping on sandbars, with the associated problems of securing light gear and boats in the wind, and keeping blowing sand and dust out of the tent.

I was using a nearly all-mesh MRS Hubba Hubba, and had considered buying an MSR Hoop for the trip to eliminate much of the screen. Camping exclusively on ledges and plateaus thanks to The Swamper’s foreknowledge largely eliminated the sandbar wind issue. The sandbar landings were often windier than comfortable, but up in camp behind a barrier of tammys we were usually well sheltered amidst the cottonwoods and cliff faces. For wind and shade protection ledge and plateau sites are well worth a short steep climb with gear.

The soloized Penobscot with CCS partial front cover. I considered bring the MR Monarch, but pondering the issues of gear accessibility at ledge camps and awkward/muddy landings, and the hazards of a jetboat ride to an irreplaceable hull, opted to go with a Royalex Big Boy and gear load hauler.

The Penobscot was perfect for the Green. A huge amount of space for gear meant that packing and unpacking, even at inconvenient landings, was easy. I brought only the front spray cover and packed the open stern with the most immediately necessary and preferrabley accessible gear.

The front cover protected the food contents of the 30L blue barrel much like the lap blanket, keeping my Snicker’s bars from melting in the heat. On awkward landings or sandbar muckles having a paddle pocket and 3 velco straps up front made paddle(s), sail and map case management security a snap.

The spiral screw-in dog stakes were in use at every landing or mid-day sandbar break. I noted that Texs rents them, and the Swamper had brought two. Other than anchoring the canoes to a dead tammy, or digging holes for deadmen, there was often little available to secure bow and stern lines. Extra long bow and stern lines are also recommended.

The Polar Bear 48 soft cooler. ... olers.html

Probably the best soft-side cooler money can buy. It not only kept the Guinness cold, it captured a huge volume of rainwater off the tarp for freshwater filtering when other receptacles had been filled. An added bonus discovery; when empty with the sides folded down it fits perfectly it the bottom of a 115L dry bag, opening more space in the canoe for packing ease.

Alum for settling silty Green River water. The Swamper’s flocculation formula is in the trip report. While we were amply supplied with potable water via a resupply at Mineral Bottom, a fortuitous rain and sleet storm at Horsethief Canyon and freshwater basins in the side canyons, it is comforting to know that Green River water can be made palatable using only alum and a filter.

We test filtered some Green River alum water as an experiment and it was far tastier than the contents of The Swamper’s dromedary bags, which had been heavily iodine contaminated by a Baja trip 12 years ago. (Note to The Swamper – buy new dromedaries)

The Platypus Gravity Filter ... er/product

I won’t say I’ll never pump water again, and for small quantities or filtering from little potholes I’ll still bring and use a pump. But if I can hang 4 liters and walk away I will. And if I can Tom Sawyer someone else into hanging the gravity filter I’ll do that too.

Gasket-sealed bucket toilet system and Wag bags. I’ve had enough poo management talk. See: ... t#post3627

The Fire-in-a-can. Amazing. Heat, huge light reflecting off canyon walls, lots of weird spooky stuff in digital photos of the flames. The absolute blackness when the cover is put on and that huge light is abruptly extinguished is freaky.

We used four feeder bricks of wax to augment the giant candle and could have burned it for at least two more days. We used the permit required fire pan only once. Ours was a large heavy duty aluminum foil turkey basting pan folded flat for storage (acceptably by regulations) and while it was handy to burn paper trash and dead tammy twigs I’m not sure, even though it is required gear, that I would use one again. I could do without cleaning up and packing out the ash, etc.

The parawing. I debated between bringing the ‘wing or a CCS Tundra Tarp. In a treeless two-pole guise the wing is easier to erect and when guyed and staked properly (two triangulated lines stakes at each corner, 8 lines & 8 stakes) it is bombproof in the wind. And damn but the freshwater runs off the wing in predictably captureable locations (a little feeder string dangling from the low corners of the ‘wing helps direct runoff water precisely).

Wet wipes and hand cream. I habitually carry them on saltwater trips. And now desert trips.

The big blue Ford E-150 van. 13 mpg sucks, but running non-stop across the country with 3 or 4 people and 3 or 4 canoes, all racked gunwales down, chalked and well roped, plus a mountain of gear, is the only way to group travel.

Things that didn’t work or weren’t needed:

My sad, worn out canoe sponge. I ended up cutting it in half for a purpose; out of and back into the boat was sometimes a mud footed adventure. I have a padded foot brace in the Penobscot, and minicel pads positioned for my heels. And, OK, every place my body touches the hull is padded…I’m a wuss.

A coating of slick Green River mud did nothing to firm up my lower extremity contact with the boat via the foot brace or heel pads. I cut the sad sponge in half and used the pieces under my heels for better braced purchase. And to dangle my feet over the sides and sponge off mud. That is some sticky damn mud; it reminds me of Bentonite in the Wind River Range for tenacity.

Next time I’ll bring two brand new sponges, one for each foot.

The all-terrain Bocci set. Used only twice in 17 days. While The Swamper seemed to enjoy besting Girl 1 and Girl 2, the ledge and plateau campsites were not conducive to Bocci play.

The Belknaps river guide. It sufficed, but it is printed bass-akwards in my opinion. I’m usually looking at a Belknaps flip map laid out oriented looking downstream, so the mileages, text and photos are all upsidedown. Maybe it’s just me but I’d prefer to orient a canyon map in the direction I’m heading and still be able to read the damn thing.

Fortunately the Swamper had provided each member of our party with other laminated 8 ½ x 11 maps, including color mapping softwear sheets and copies of maps detailing ruins, features and hikes in every side canyon between Ruby ranch and the Colorado.

PostPosted: May 23rd, 2013, 11:52 am 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2016
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
The Swamper provides the following cfs info and a link to the gauge (if you trust his math skills):

At Green River, Utah, the river was flowing about 3,000 cfs on Friday May 3rd, gauge height was 6.4 feet. Long term (113 years of record) average flow for that date is 9,000 cfs. ... o=09315000

It is at over 10,000 cfs and 9’ now, just 2 weeks later. Spring has finally come to the Rockies and there is enough flow that even the various water-suckeries can’t contain it all.

Since many western rivers are over 100% allocated for water rights (the Colorado is 120% subscribed and doesn’t much make it to the Gulf of California) snowpack levels or recent precipitation in the upper drainages may be misleading, especially after drought years when much of the flow is being impounded or otherwise diverted.

I would take that sameish 3000 cfs and 6.4 gauge height again. The flow was still sufficient to make easy 25 mile days, and many of the ledge and plateau landings would have been even sketchier at higher levels. And many of the sandbars would have been either been gone entirely, or too close to river level to chance camping.

A foot lower would have still been passable with more attentive route finding to avoid the shallows, and a couple of feet higher would have vanished many of the sandbars and uphill campsite landings.

The Swamper has great timing.

I still want to camp somewhere along the giant 2 mile sandbar at Valentine Bottom at that level.

PostPosted: May 24th, 2013, 2:25 pm 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2016
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
I asked The Swamper about the permitting process, and she provided the following details:

A BLM permit is required above the NPS boundary (mile 47, just bellow Mineral Bottom) ... rinth.html

Make a copy of the BLM permit for the Texs (or Tag-a-long, or other shuttle service provider).

The NPS permit site may change this year so follow the links. Fill out and send/fax in to receive a permit. Carry the NPS issued permit on the river, and file a copy with Texs (or etc).

Some coordination is needed between securing permits and shuttle dates. Check with Texs (or -) first to see if the insertion and extraction dates are available. The Ruby Ranch drop off and Jetboat pick up need to be worth their effort. Texs does run a smaller jetboat when less space is needed.

PostPosted: May 28th, 2013, 11:20 am 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2016
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
Everyone in our party had a copy of Beknap’s waterproof Canyonlands River Guide ... iver+Guide

That slender book of flip maps was the easiest for me to follow while paddling, but I do wish that the accompanying text and photos displayed on each page were printed upside-down. I usually have a Belknap’s oriented looking downriver; the only time I’ve used a Belknap’s flip map and been able to read the text was when paddling upriver into the Grand Canyon from Pierce Ferry (back when Lake Mead was full).

The Swamper had also provided each member of our party with other maps, including sets of 8 ½ x 11 color National Geographic mapping software print outs, laminated and double sided. Those were helpful but less easy than the Belknap’s to read at a glance when paddling, at least for me (I am very colorblind).

The other set of 8 ½ x 11 laminated maps The Swamper provided were most helpful for camping and side hiking. Those were photocopies of the map pages from Kelsey’s River Guide to Canyonlands National Park and Vicinity. ... d+Vicinity

The simple and easily readable black and white maps in that guide show the river course and side canyons, and denote everything for a few miles on either side of the river – the location of Anasazi ruins, old camps and forts, caves, hiking trails, springs & streams, the nearest 4WD roads and potential riverside campsites.

The maps in the Kelsey guide fill in a lot of what Belknap’s leaves out, and are highly recommended if you want to hike the side canyons (or find water). My copy of the Kelsey guide is en route and should make interesting bedside reading.

The Swamper had thoughtfully printed large font text on the back of each laminated Kelsey’s map page, denoting past campsites and conditions, shade (or lack thereof), side hikes taken, the location of springs, ruins and Petroglyphs and approximate the river mile.

I need to update those with notes on campsite landing ease and canoe space, and mark a few places I’d like to try next time.

We had room for four+ tents at each site, along with a large “commons” area, and room for four boats at each landing (sometimes not so expansive).

While I’d be hesitant to pass up any of the sites where we camped (if they were available), those expansive accommodations would be unnecessary on a solo trip, and perhaps better left to larger parties if there was apparent “competition” for sites.

We were very fortunate in that regard; friends doing the same stretch of the Green a week later found many of their hoped for or intended sites already occupied. Or still occupied, either by later risers not yet decamped or by folks staying a second day and hiking.

There are certainly many more sites available in short box canyons, ledges and plateaus for a soloist who needs only space for a small tent and tarp and landing room for one canoe.

And some shade. Maybe a spring or pot hole nearby. Perhaps some Petroglyphs or Anasazi ruins. I think I need to go back and look more closely.

 Post subject: Re: Green River Utah
PostPosted: May 28th, 2013, 1:23 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 5th, 2003, 2:50 pm
Posts: 758
Location: Halfmoon Bay BC
Thanks for writing this!.. I was hoping to also be on the Green in May but I got to arranging things too late and hope to be there next spring. A lot of great tips! Especially the UV blanket , I would never have thought of something like that .

 Post subject: Re: Green River Utah
PostPosted: May 28th, 2013, 8:45 pm 

Joined: February 10th, 2008, 4:41 pm
Posts: 329
I recommend early April. Try to get up on the rim above the river. Fantastic views. Tri-canyon. The White Rim. And the big bend between and east of Jasper and Shot canyons. It can take some effort and route finding. Pick the brains of the boys at Tex's. You won't regret it.

 Post subject: Re: Green River Utah
PostPosted: May 29th, 2013, 6:30 am 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2016
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
gunnelbob wrote:
Thanks for writing this!.. I was hoping to also be on the Green in May but I got to arranging things too late and hope to be there next spring. A lot of great tips! Especially the UV blanket , I would never have thought of something like that .

I have 10 paddling friends who have done that trip before, some of them more than once. I knew that at least 3 of them had suffered heat/sun related health issues on the Green and, knowing my predisposition to sunburn early in the year, was determined to avoid that.

Not counting the 10 days on the Green I had been out tripping 40-some days since January 1st, but all of those trips were in the mid-Atlantic region and I was most often covered head to toe in layers of fleece and Gore-Tex. My face and hands were brown, but the rest of me was still pale white.

I sought out the shade of canyon walls when paddling. In camp the cottonwoods and cliff faces provided shade for portions of the day, and the wind/sun chair helped as well. The UV lap blanket was essential gear for saving my legs from sunburn, both in the boat and in camp.

I made two of those from UV material in 2009 and had used them extensively on open water trips in the east, especially in summer. I knew they were useful, but on a desert river they were invaluable.

The wind/sun chair was equally useful. Outside of the midday hours I could simply position the highback extension to provide needed shade and turn the chair a few degrees as the angle of the sun changed.

We erected the parawing only once, for a two day stay at Horsethief Canyon. While it provided great group shade (and rainwater collection) I’d be less enthusiastic about putting it up every day, especially on a solo trip.

The improved wind/sun chair (my old one bit the dust after 10 years of various repairs) promises improved personal shade, and is much faster and easier to set up than a sun tarp, especially solo. ... 20&t=41434

If you are a pale easterner or prone to sunburn some easily assembled shade/sun protection is worth thinking about.

 Post subject: Re: Green River Utah
PostPosted: June 2nd, 2013, 9:05 pm 
User avatar

Joined: August 11th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 5836
Location: Sunny Wasaga Beach
Wow. Great report. I really hope to do that river next year. I've been on the San Juan and thoroughly enjoyed it.


Old canoeists never die---they just smell that way.

 Post subject: Re: Green River Utah
PostPosted: January 15th, 2014, 2:10 pm 

Joined: March 21st, 2013, 11:30 am
Posts: 137
Location: Minden, NV USA
The Green is a great river for canoes and the landscape is a nice change for almost everyone. I have been searching for similar trips, on big rivers with minimal rapids and portages that go for long distances. So far the lower Colorado, Sacramento, parts of the Snake and the John Day in OR have fit the bill. Any one else have experience with other similar big rivers?

 Post subject: Re: Green River Utah
PostPosted: January 15th, 2014, 3:43 pm 
User avatar

Joined: December 2nd, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 3731
Location: Grand Haven, Michigan U.S.A.
ppine, There are dozens of rivers that fit the bill you are requesting. In addition to the Green, I did the San Juan in southern Utah which can be made into two weeks of generally flatwater. But check out for an extensive list of rivers in the western US.


 Post subject: Re: Green River Utah
PostPosted: January 16th, 2014, 1:21 am 
User avatar

Joined: February 19th, 2004, 9:53 pm
Posts: 1451
Location: Atlanta
ppine, the San Juan canyons have widely spaced rapids, and if you chose to portage any, the portages would not be long. I would say that only Government Rapid is class 3, and it has a pretty clean runout if your boat swamped. Some of the other rapids are worth scouting.

The fast current is a help if you get headwind. Most years, the San Juan season for open tandems is pretty long. Drinking water is often scarce. Most parties carry water. However, things can be replenished in Mexican Hat, between the canyons.

There are some Anasazi ruins and petroglyphs prior to the upper canyon. I think the upper canyon has more variety than the lower canyon in terms of scenery.

Of course, permits are an issue. I was on a commercial trip with open canoes and support rafts. I'll try to find a link to my trip report. Here they are, separate for the upper and lower canyon.

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