Sunday, October 14, 2018

Buzz Job

It was only after we had the boats loaded and we were a mile or so downriver from our camp that the dark clouds decided that they actually did contain some rain. I thought about digging out my rain gear, but it was warm so we paddled on.

Within 20 minutes or so, the skies cleared and the sun came back out. It seemed only appropriate with with 8 nights of camping on the river, we should have a few minutes of rain.

We arrived at Mineral Bottom a day early, simply because it is easier to avoid the hassle of a busy ramp and risk of upstream winds for the last morning.

A group of paddlers from Phoenix camped about a mile downstream of us last night but hadn't broken camp when we passed this morning. We had our boats cleaned and stowed when they starting arriving at the Mineral Bottom boat ramp.

We'd been buzzed by a Mooney M20 at our last camp, and then by a Husky and a Super Cub during our paddle from our RM61.5 camp. In the afternoon, a couple different planes flew over, checking out the Mineral Bottom airstrip.

A Super Cub landed first, followed by a Maule 180. Later, a couple Kitfox homebuilts made multi passes at the airstrip. Finally, one of them attempted to land, but was downwind. We couldn't see the landing, but we could hear it. Some of the sounds were not congruous with normal landing sounds. A bit later, the other Kitfox landed.

At 7 a.m. the next morning, I walked over to the airstrip (about 3/4 mile from the boat ramp) since I had a couple decent pictures of the Maule on approach that I thought the pilot might like.
The signage for the airport is pretty tired, but the strip looked great - at least when it's dry. It's 2000' long, and wider than I expected. It would be really soft and slippery when wet. Turns out, all the pilots were planning to camp at the airstrip overnight.

The pilot of the Maule was making his morning coffee when I got there. We had a very interesting chat about his flying trip to the southwest, specifically to visit some of the back country airstrips around the Four Corners area. He was heading to the area around Page, Arizona next.

Turns out, there was a reason for the incongruous landing noises from the first Kitfox. Somehow, the pilot managed to avoid any apparent wingtip damage, but was very successful in removing the main landing gear in a manner that wouldn't be considered appropriate by the aircraft designer. The question the pilot asked me was could a 20' trailer be towed down the road to Mineral Bottom. Looks like this one is going home in a different manner than it arrived.

After the shuttle back to town, we ended up back in the very same site at Pack Creek Campground that we'd been in before we left for the river. Pack Creek was willing to allow our trailer to stay in their overflow area while we were on the river.

The parking lot was full to the brim at the place that we normally enjoy our after trip dinner so we headed to the Moab Diner which has wonderful green chili and amazing desserts at very competitive prices.

When was the last time you saw a real (and BIG) banana split for less than $5?

There were only three desserts - apparently someone who will remain unnamed was still on a river diet.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Leaving a Mark

One of the reasons to camp at Bowknot Bend was to hike up to the ridge in the morning while it was cool. BJ & Willie decided that they would take a pass, so Kathy and I headed off before breakfast.
I'd considered hiking up for sunrise but decided that going early enough to enjoy the cool shadows was good enough for me. Since our camp was on the north side of the neck of the bend, we got a light show on the cliffs across the river but stayed cool in camp.

The first time I climbed to the ridge, there was a very rough trail but no steps. Last time, there were a few steps. This time, the trail was much better, very obvious, and there were lots of places where sandstone blocks were used to create very nice steps.

At the west end of the ridge, there is an area with some old river runner glyphs. Rumor has it that John Wesley Powell's group left their mark but we couldn't find it. The very clear and clean Kolb Bros mark (famous Grand Canyon photographers) was obvious with junk from the past 20-30 years starting to crowd it out.

The (Harry) Aleson, (Georgie) White inscription is very clear. This one was placed when they were doing one of the earliest military surplus raft trips from Green River, Utah to Hite. Later, Georgie became famous for her 'triple-rigged' inflatables that carried scores of people through the Grand Canyon.

This one looked very well done. I was debating who ATH was, and then I looked closer. This was was done with power tools, grinding the deep inscription in 2003.

This one was scratched into the desert varnish. I'd like to think that by this time, the whole concept of  'leave no trace' should be well know - apparently not to Reese!

It make one wonder how long forever was/is for T & A.

Interestingly enough, not only are some people still leaving their mark on the cliffs, someone/s was also leaving their mark (and the used toilet paper) in places near our camp in spite of the requirement to have a washable toilet system and to carry out all solid waste. Some people make me angry!

I had to try a panorama. This one is taken facing west where the trail first reaches the ridge. On the left is the downstream side with our next camp in the shadows of the downstream cliffs. On the right is the upstream side of the bend. The river travels about 6.5 miles to make it around the bend, passing less than 1/4 mile from itself. As always, clicking on a picture will bring up a larger version.

After two nights at Bowknot Bend, we continued downriver to river mile 61.5 where we were able to snag another beautiful high water camp, complete with an excellent sandbar out front for unloading and bathing. The ridge at Bowknot is the low part of the ridge in the background.

The best part of this camp was the shady 'porch' where we could sit and watch the river flow by. There was just enough vegetation that many people wouldn't notice you until you spoke to them.

We were really impressed with a group of five families, complete with at least 12 children of all ages, that drifted past us using all manner of floating devices. They were spread out enough that we never could get a picture of the whole group.

This is a popular camp for Boy Scout trips. Unfortunately, the area was marred by MANY people leaving their marks on the walls. I spotted at least one large one that was dated 2017. I don't understand...

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Immersed in Beauty

We departed our sandbar camp at river mile 90 on our third day of the trip. While we've done the trip many times, it is always different - the channel, the sandbars, and what we see. This time we were surprised to see three cows on a small sandbar at the lower end of June's Bottom. We've been doing this river since the fall of 2000 and this is the first time we've run across cattle at the river.

It's my preference to start the day early and to end early. This has generally served us well, taking advantage of the morning calm, and often getting first pick at campsites.

In this case, I was targeting the high water camp at river mile 81. We've never stayed there, and never noticed the trail to it, but there was supposed to be a geocache there that had never been found. We arrived just as the group that camped upstream from us on the first night was breaking camp.

As is typical with high water camps, it's a bit of work to get the gear from the river to the ledge that is high enough to stay dry at most springtime flows. The camp featured oak trees providing dappled shade which was really nice given the 90 degree daytime temps.

The mule deer enjoyed this camp as well. We saw at least five hiding in the shadows.

Behind the grove of oaks was a grassy bottom, showing signs that it was sometimes flooded during the high water season. The cache was reported to be about the same size as the acorns scattered around, but was nowhere to be found.

Back against the cliffs were some stellar examples of tafoni.

This was the only camp where we stayed just one day. On the fourth day of our trip we once again loaded the canoes and continued off downstream with two objectives in mind for the day.

The morning shadows were dark and the water was glassy. Oh, what a beautiful day!

The 25 foot long sternwheeler launch Marguerite passed by here over 100 years ago, and left their mark above the river. This one has survived well because of the rock overhang that protects it from some of the direct weather.

For years, I've looked for a place to stop and this time we were successful, landing just downstream on a rocky shore. BJ and I were able to leave our mark in the geocache placed by a member of the Wimmer family.

After our stop at river mile 73.2, we continued on past our camp from two years ago, hoping to snag the Bowknot Bend camp at river mile 69.6.

The sandbar this year was closer to the river right shore than previous years and I ended up walking a ways with the canoe to get in to the steep takeout.

Camp for the next two nights was at the very same place we spent three nights on our 2014 trip.