Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day Nine - Green River

Friday, October 3 - Departure from Bonita Bend went very smoothly. The water level was down around 9" from yesterday's high point but still plenty of depth to paddle out to the mouth of the wash. We were able to load each of the boats on dry land and then lift/slide them into the water, with just one volunteer (Alan) wading in the knee deep water to assist with the launchings.

Morning travel northeast along Unknown Bottom is always one of my favorites. The cliffs on river right cast a large shadow and seem to enhance the reflections along this reach of the river.

As we approach the start of Valentine Bottom, anticipation increases as we start looking for the first sign of granary ruins on river left.

The first ruin I spotted wasn't in very good shape but was clearly the remains of a built structure. All of the structures are located in the same interface at the bottom of the White Rim sandstone layer.

A couple more. But I was really looking for my favorite (because it was the first I ever spotted on the Green.)

The square corner gives it away. It's located right in the middle of this picture. It's on river left about river mile 28.6 or so. I'm basing the river mile estimates on Belknap's Revised Canyonlands River Guide, copyright 1996. I don't know if there are any changes to the mileage in the new, much improved color edition.

I've never been able to figure out how they got up to this location to build the structure. It appears the back wall is missing as is any roof structure. I wonder if the structure was ever completed?

A bit further downstream was this series of three smaller structures. I thought they were a bit unusual because they were much more exposed to weather.

As we continued downstream, it was interesting to note the the massive sandbar from two years at mile 28 was now entirely gone except for the tamarack covered portion. There were some habitable locations on the island about river mile 27.

We stopped on river left about river mile 25.8 to view the "guard tower" built into the cliff on river right at that point. While the top of the sandbar was dry, the edges were very muddy!

Hitting the jackpot once again, we found an adequate sandbar at the northwest corner of Turks Head. The river bottom was firm but the sandbar edge was covered with a couple inches of very slippery mud. Teamwork reduced the slippage and kept the top of the sandbar free of tracked in mud.

Once our camp was set up, most of us decided to see if we could bushwhack a route through the tammies. Of course, this year the sandbar was located closer to the corner where the band of tammies is the thickest. We ended up flagging our route with six bandannas so that we could retrace our steps.

The view of Soda Springs Canyon from the Turks Head bench is a favorite, contrasting with the deep blue sky. This year we decided it was a chipmunk sitting on top of the cliff at the left.

The brothers West enjoying the view and thinking about the peoples that lived here a thousand years ago. Craig Childs' House of Rain suggests that this area of the Green River was the northern limits of the Ancient Pueblo peoples.

We launched from Bonita Bend about 9:30 a.m. and spent three hours traveling about 8.5 river miles. The river was flowing about 6000 cfs and dropping. We passed three or four kayaks that were just breaking camp at the cabin site (river mile 25.3) about 11:30 a.m. They passed us as we were setting up camp. We didn't see anyone else throughout the day.

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