Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Deadhorse Down

One of the joys of Deadhorse is that there is afternoon shade. After getting camp set up on the sand berm at the mouth of the wash we went off to explore. The high camp (another 10' higher and a slippery path) was huge but would have been lots of work to access.

We were planning a layover day specifically so that we could go hiking. In 2015, we'd hiked to Newspaper Rock from the lower Cabin Bottom campsite. This time, we wanted to try the route from the other direction. It involved finding a way up the dry fall from the north side of the perched meander not far up the canyon from camp.

Route finding skills were important, not only for working up through the dry falls but also keeping track of the place to start back down on our return. Once we were up on the mesa, the view was expansive in all directions and the river disappeared - at least for awhile.

I didn't think to try to recreate the picture from our 2015 trip, but this one, while tighter, was from the same location. (And, yes, BJ checked to confirm there were no petroglyphs where she was leaning.) All told, it was about 2 miles round trip from camp. 

When we got back down to the wash in the canyon, the others went back to camp while I walked up the canyon. I heard that it dead-ended in a dry fall, but I didn't get that far since I'd told them I would be back in camp within an hour. Next time...

On Saturday, October 3rd, we left Deadhorse to continue downstream. Our campanions did a great job of demonstrating the amount of effort required to navigate on this calm morning.

This is the first year that we've passed the mouth of Horse canyon and found no bugs. On the flip side, it was much splashier than any of us remembered. We weren't sure where we were going to end up but we knew we needed to "waste" some time.

The sandbar on the inside of the corner at river mile 11.7 became our home for the evening. It wasn't as nice as previous years and we needed to spread out to find level spots for our tents, but it did offer some afternoon shade. 

The next day we continued our drift downstream. We'd heard that there was a huge sandbar in the mouth of Water Canyon but it turned out to be on river left across from the canyon. Since it didn't have any shade, we gave it a pass and continued on, rapidly running out of river.

We thought of going to the confluence and taking a layover day there, but we'd heard that Upper Spanish was marginal this year, while both middle and lower involve very steep carries to high camps. Instead, we called a sandbar on the left at river mile 3 our home. 

The next morning, we didn't leave camp until 10 a.m. because we didn't want to arrive at the confluence until after the jet boat had done its pickups. That wait put the sun angle just right for yet another reflection picture, this time about river mile 2.

The sandbar on river right at the confluence was huge this year. We washed the boats, ate some lunch, and then headed across the expanse of sand with our chairs to sit in the shade of a large tree at the base of the hill.

It was a lazy morning for our last morning on the river for this trip, watching the sunlight start its way down the hill while the moon continued its travel towards the west.

Our chariot passed by, right on schedule, and then returned after picking up groups that had camped further down the Colorado. Our group of four and another group of two loaded here and we headed upstream with another fun Green River trip in the books.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Creatures of Habit

It's Fall, so it must be time for our nearly annual Green River trip. As usual, we started our trip at Tex's Riverways office in Moab. Once again, we were the first ones to arrive, thanks to breakfast taking less time than anticipated. 

For the third year in a row, we brought our 16' Souris River tandem canoe while Kathy & Willie used their Wild River 14' tandem. We had 2 other parties launching with us - 2 couples in rented Old Town canoes and a single fellow in a rented Grumman canoe.

This year, we planned 8 nights on the river to do the 52 miles from Mineral Bottom through the Stillwater canyon. (Many people plan to do this trip in half the time, but we enjoy being lazy!) The winds were blowing pretty good on launch day so we elected to use one of our layover days before we ever got on the river. The sun was just starting to glow on the cliffs across the river the next morning, reflecting in the glassy water.

One of the joys of paddling in low/no wind conditions is that it's easier paddling and easier to read the river but the part I enjoy most is the reflections on the calm water.

Typically when we do the Stillwater section, camp for our first night on the river is somewhere near Fort Bottom. This year, thanks to launching a couple hours earlier than normal, we were able to claim the sandbar near the trailhead. As usual, it was well after we'd made our reservations that we realized this was going to be a full moon trip. The camera doesn't like to focus on the moon but I liked the reflection!

Sometimes, the reflections are so overwhelming that it's a bit challenging to pick out the channel which changes from year to year.

The river was MUCH clearer than we'd ever seen it. We're used to having less than 2 inches of visibility but this year we had over 18 inches. Apparently a number of the muddy feeder streams were dry this year. Even so, you have to keep a close eye for the shoals that would send you walking if you didn't pay enough attention!

The view as we drifted along the White Rim on river left approaching the Millard riffle didn't disappoint. The riffle was splashier than it has been. The line I choose managed to get BJ a bit wet but we avoided every single rock so I was happy.

We hoped that we would be able to access a favorite spot at Bonita Bend but another party was already there so we continued on to a sandbar at river mile 29 for the night. This day was the busiest day we experienced this trip with two groups camped within a mile upstream and one camped downstream on the sandbar at the top of Valentine Bottom.

Unlike most previous years, we weren't planning to camp at Turks Head this year. It's a good thing! The sandbar that we used several previous trips was totally sheared off this year, leaving just an 8 foot tall wall of sand.

We'd gambled on the camp at Deadhorse Canyon. Dave & I stayed there the first time I did this section of the Green twenty years ago but I'd not been back since. With just a small group and a report that sand had built up in the mouth of the canyon, this was our goal. There were two kayaks there when we arrived but they were just finishing a hike and were continuing on, so we claimed it for our own.

I can't cram it all into one post, so there will be another post in a couple weeks or so.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Creative Cache Lifecycle

 With overnight temps occasionally dipping below 90 degrees, it's time to get out and do my annual visitation to my geocaches, assuming they don't get consumed by one of our many forest fires first. This year, I have a number of caches on my list that I'm considering for archival.

I removed Shave & a Haircut. While the log was easily accessible, the inner container (which was a play on the title) was stuck in the water bottle when the bottle shrunk due to the Arizona heat. This one lasted 33 months, but wasn't one of my better ideas.

Surf's Up had a good run, lasting 48 months before I decided to remove it. Since it was a puzzle cache, it didn't get as much traffic and the majority of people that did find it struggled to get it open which suggests they didn't get the SharkBite brand reference (push-on plumbing fittings) for the container. The idea for this one developed from a cache in Flagstaff that utilized a SharkBite(tm) fitting.

Pegleg's Black Gold was a nice idea but lived a very hard life. This was the original, before it was placed. It leveraged a worn out shoe and the leg off a worn out pair of blue jeans. Even though it was cabled in place, the original got stolen (or the pack rats ate the cable as well as everything else!) This was one of a set of three that were placed at the same time. Capt. Kidd's Treasure lasted less than 18 months. This cache lasted a total of 56 months but was rebuilt a couple times. 

When I rebuilt it, I used a heavier boot which stood up to the pack rats although they did seem to appreciate the laces and the hooks. The blue jean portion was replaced at least three times but the caches has gotten to the place that the pack rats appreciate it more than the cachers. With one little shred of jean left, it's time to archive this one. The third one of the set (Lost Dutchman) remains in play. It's container looks like it could survive a year yet.

At one time, I had two bone caches. Both used sundried calf bones that we spotted when we were out caching one day. Online naysayers said you couldn't use a bone, but turns out they weren't right. This one, Dust to Dust, lasted 53 months, using a bison tube for the log container inside the hollow bone. It's time to free up the spot for something else, whatever that might be.

Button, Button, like it's Now What? siblings, was constructed of wood. Unlike the others which are still in play, I've never been totally happy with this one since I couldn't get a consistent fit with the dowels. Most often, it would fall apart when you picked it up. No fun having a field puzzle that solved itself! 'Sides that, ground cover was no longer adequate, but it did survive for 4 1/2 years. The ammo can will likely be used again someday for something different.

The cache description was the key to this one. It was placed fairly early in my geocaching experience and has done much better than I had any reason to expect. Once again, an oddball container with a "punnish" description worked, but now it's time to open up some space for something different. Shooting in the Desert had a good run - 57 months.

It hasn't all been archiving. I did find a place for Signal's Travel Planner. It's a gadget cache based on some concepts from the June Gadgettalk podcast. I'm hoping folks enjoy it.