Monday, October 12, 2015

Stillwater Canyon, Day Five

September 27, 2015 - Morning light started painting the bluffs  across from our lower Cabin Bottom campsite. I always enjoy the mornings and evenings as the light marches across the faces of rock.

Suzanne is loaded and ready to go while the butt in the background is still loading the canoe. One of the disadvantages of wood boats is that you get a bit picky about where you load and unload, avoiding the rocks when possible. Plastic, on the other hand, can be safely cradled by the rocks.

Originally, we'd considered a stop at the lower Turks Head access and then continuing on to Dead Horse Canyon at Mile 19 for a layover day. With the heat and the lunar eclipse, we decided to take a pass on Dead Horse for lack of shade and potential shadowing of the lunar path. Someday I'll get back to Dead Horse.

With Dead Horse off the list, we set our hopes on a sandbar at the north corner of the Turks Head loop. We've stayed there before, but we've also seen years when there wasn't any sandbar there. With less than 3 miles to travel, it became a study in "how slow can you go?"

Interesting clouds and glassy water made for great drifting conditions. It we're lucky, home for the night will be just around the next corner.

The sandbar was in much better condition than last year when it was topped with a layer of mud. At nice shelf with a good sand bottom made for lots of space to unload the boats.

The reason for staying here was to access the area hiding behind the river's fringe of tammies. The trail we found last year was even in better condition this year, albeit well hidden from the beach.

Once we got through the tammies and the head-high grass, the rest of the walk was through the desert scrub that has overtaken the field once farmed by Ancestral Puebloans. Craig Childs says this area was the northern edge of Chaco culture.

Some of the structures are in very poor condition, but some still show the various styles of construction - everything from dry stack to small rock chinking to mud mortar.

By the time the sun started disappearing, the sky had cleared.

For the past several years, we've made pizza at some point during the trip. It's amazingly easy. It can be done in a frying pan with the lid, but it's easier in our 10" Backpacker's Pantry Outback Oven. Boboli crust, pizza sauce, olives, pepperoni, and Babybel Mozzarella all keeps well enough for the 5th day of a warm trip.
We never pay any attention to moon phases when planning a trip. It was months after the reservations were made that Suzanne mentioned there would be a lunar eclipse. Five people on the trip with cameras but none with a working tripod. Braced on a box, fired with the timer, Alan had the best shots of the "blood moon."

After some attempts at lunar photography, I spread out a tarp so we could take the appropriate position to watch the moon slowly morph back to it's normal white. It didn't last long for thin clouds to start obscuring the view. Eventually we all wandered off to our tents to dream the night away.


  1. That was a magical night indeed! I am a big fan of the full moon, so it was a real treat to get to watch it from such a beautiful place! (I am still suffering from pizza envy, however.) ;-)

    1. It really was a special evening! The pizza is amazingly easy and can be done in a fry pan with lid over very low heat.

  2. Really enjoying your, and Suzanne's reports on the river trip. Appears you had an awesome time.

    1. For me, most any time on the river is awesome, made more so by the good people that shared the experience. It really was another memorable trip.