Saturday, September 29, 2018


It's a 500 mile drive from our place to Moab, but the road goes through Monument Valley which is always a special place. On rare occasions, we've been smart enough to break the trip into two days, but this time we departed at 5:30 a.m. and drove straight through with a few breaks for BJ to walk and stretch.

We showed up early Monday morning at Moab Rafting & Canoe Company which surprised them, but gave us some time to get acquainted with them before the morning rush.

The front door sported an interesting sign indicating they just moved to this facility and setting some basic parameters.

In the office area there were a few indications of whimsy. The owners bought the business three years ago, and have brought their smiles and sense of humor to the business. In addition to shuttles for self supported trips, they also do guided trips. Kevin was describing the menus on their San Juan River guided raft trips. Sounds like an epicurean delight!

Eventually, a group of high schoolers and their leaders showed up. It immediately was clear why we weren't able to add another person to our group. Kathy & Willy launched a day early to resolve that challenge. Not only were the high schoolers late, but they were also disorganized. Apparently the school does the trip annually but hasn't figured out their system yet.

Kevin was thoughtful and recognized the impact on our trip. He arranged for our gear to be loaded by the side door so it could be unloaded first when we got to Ruby Ranch.

In addition to the 11 canoes with the school group, there was another group of seven canoes that were getting organized. We carried our gear a little further down the beach and then quickly loaded our canoe.

Since we'd done some gear fitting at home, loading the canoe went quickly and everything fit like we'd expected. The weather forecast was calling for afternoon winds up to 15 miles per hour so we didn't waste any time getting moving. Besides that, we wanted to find Kathy & Willy and get camp set before the hordes descended.

By the time we approached Trin Alcove there was already a group of kayaks there so we snagged the downstream end of a sandbar on river left, just upriver of Trin Alcove. By selecting the smaller, downstream end of the sandbar, we had a view of Trin Alcove and we left the larger, upstream end of the sandbar for a larger group.

Our camp was organized by about 2 p.m.  About 4 p.m., the group of seven canoes claimed the upstream section of 'our' sandbar. About 5 p.m., the high school group paddled past. Since our trip was planned with several layover days, this is the last time we saw these very polite students since they were on a four day schedule.

The weather for the trip was calling for 85-90 degree days, 55-65 degree nights, calm mornings and breezy afternoons. We appreciated the afternoon shade that this camp provided.

On Tuesday, we paddled across to Trin Alcove and went exploring. We had BJ set the pace, but had to get some pictures for her physical therapy team. She was pleased her back didn't act up and that she was able to get out and spend some time in the outdoors.

Trin Alcove, by definition, should have three alcoves, but it seemed like there were more than that. Weather has been dry and the river is low and steady this year, making for easy hiking once we got past the tamarack at the river's edge.

After two nights on the sandbar at Trin Alcove bend, we headed off down the river. With just four people and two canoes on this particular trip, loading was quick and easy.

Morning paddling provided for cooler temperatures, glassy water, and wonderful reflections!

More to come...

Monday, September 24, 2018

Time to Hit the Road, Again

While we think late September is prime season for lazy Green River trips, the rest of the world has discovered that late September is prime season in Moab and the hotel rates reflect it! This year, we're taking our our pre & post trip housing with us.

In March, I contacted Tex's Riverways who supported our 13 previous Green River trips and they were already sold out for mid-September through mid-October, so this year we're trying a different company.

There have been some changes in outfitters providing shuttle service from the confluence. Tag-A-Long sold their boat/s and permits to Canyonlands by Night although they still show jet boats on their website. Meanwhile, you'd never guess that Canyonlands provided jet boat shuttle service from their website.

We'll know more about Moab Rafting and Canoe Company when we get off the river! Since they don't provide jet boat shuttles, we're limited to a Labyrinth canyon trip this year.

It used to be that with some minimal flexibility, it was possible to put a fall trip together with a few weeks lead time. That appears to no longer be the case! We have four going on the trip this year, but in order to add the forth, the other couple will be launching a day ahead of us. If all goes as plans, we'll meet them at the first camp.

Assuming BJ feels up to it, we'll take a bit of time after our river trip to visit Arches National Park. We did it once before but it was ten years ago.

The plan is to take a couple days to loop home through southwestern Colorado and Four Corners country. Unfortunately, we're not going to get to Durango on this trip.

When this post publishes, we should be approaching our takeout at river mile 52.

No telling when the next blog will post!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

What Goes, What Stays?

Years ago when I was leading trips with more people, I put together a fairly extensive list to assist with sorting and packing, especially helpful for first timers. The last few years, I've tended to ignore it and just start pulling stuff off the shelf. For whatever reason, this year I went back to the list before I finished packing. I'm glad I did - I almost forgot the spare roll of TP.

Some may call us lazy. We're going with the 'just boil water' menu this year, reducing our kitchen kit significantly as a result. Maybe I'll lose some weight, but I've seen what's packed in the lunch container, so losing weight isn't likely!

Our plan this year is even more relaxed than normal. We plan to split the trip into five paddling days which leaves us with four layover days. The forecast is showing temps in the mid 90's so I suspect we won't be doing as much hiking as I'd hoped. I'm not sure my choice of camp reading will be conducive with relaxation!

BJ has used one of her Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro kayaks (she has two) on eleven of the trips she's done. She know exactly what fits where. I feel the same way with my normal load in my solo canoe, but this is the first time we've done a week+ trip in the tandem.

We tried several different combinations and think we're in good shape. We know we won't be as overloaded as some people we've seen on the river over the years!

Friday, September 14, 2018

River Season

Multiple piles of important stuff are starting to gather around the house,

and some of it is already finding its way into dry bags.

We had several conversations about boat selection this year. For the past thirteen trips, BJ has always paddled her own boat. While she's feeling better, and doesn't want to pass up a river trip, she's decided to share a tandem with me this year, just in case.
The Souris River Quetico 16 tandem found its way off the rack and past a wet sponge and towel. It's been a while since this one has been on the water! The last time it was used was on a Friends of Helen trip in January 2016.

I even added a few extra light weight D rings to the canoe.

For years, Squeak traveled with us on river trips. In late July, 2015, I turned her loose to travel as a geocaching travel bug. Unfortunately, she disappeared a few months later. This year, she's been replaced by Cruiser who will ride the bow on our upcoming Labyrinth Canyon trip.

Time to get back to packing!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Rim Country

The other reason to overnight at Datil Wells was to time my approach to Pie Town when at least one of the cafes in town was open. Last time, I was too early and I wasn't going to make that mistake again!

What I didn't realize until I was sitting at breakfast was that Pie Town is a well known stop on the Continental Divide Trail even though it is several miles away from where the trail crosses the highway.

Speaking of breakfast - my choice was New Mexico Apple pie, and of course, a serving of dairy to make a well rounded breakfast. The Gathering Place was the only cafe that was open on a weekday morning, but turned out to be an excellent choice. They have their business to a science - you don't buy by the slice, you buy a small whole pie

Which leaves plenty for breakfast again the next day! Actually, the size would have been just right to split three ways but sometimes you have to make a sacrifice and eat it all alone.

As I headed west towards the Arizona border, it was clear that we were headed into Arizona's monsoon weather.

Camp, for several days, was a spot off of the Young Road, south of Willow Springs lake. I was the first to arrive for the tenth annual Team Evil Fish camp out. Got a spot where I could get some sun on the solar panel but didn't get many pictures around camp since it was in the middle of the weather factory - grey and wet most of the time.

I did find that in general, there were a few hours in the mornings where I could get out before the weather went south. Did some hiking on the Highline trail,

enjoying some of the views,

and logging some caches that hadn't been visited for more than a year.

Other days, I drove in to Payson to visit a few special challenge caches. Nearly all of them were positioned at the top of hills which lead to some beautiful views.

Most of the caches were in good shape, but that wasn't always the case! This one was spread out over a small area with the lid off and the base full of water. It suffered from exposure to the Arizona sun and was falling apart.

It was worth drying out the logbook enough to stamp it. It hadn't been visited for over two years! I dried out the container and tried to arrange it with better protection.

Meanwhile, other folks had set up camp and a few more came to visit on Friday.

It took some special assistance to get the fire going but eventually we enjoyed a nice fire for a few hours.

Saturday started off with rain that finally broke for a bit. I decided to take the opportunity and make a run for it, heading for the barn. Turns out the rest of the group enjoyed a nice afternoon while I unloaded the trailer and started the wash.

Won't be long and we'll be on the road for another short trip.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Things You'll Find

I headed south out of Tucumcari early enough that I got to enjoy the sunrise trying to break through the clouds.

When I got to Clovis, I hung a right on Highway 60 and headed towards home. Clearly, there were some expectations that didn't pan out. A nice intersection sporting aging, cracked asphalt and a stop sign that ends at a fence immediately behind me and nothing but prairie beyond that. It's a nice stop sign!

New Mexico does a great job of putting in "Official Scenic Historic Markers" although sometimes with little notice that they're coming up. This area had been overtaken as a storage area for asphalt millings while they were resurfacing the road but the sign told an amazing story. You can click on any picture for a larger version.

Fort Sumner was another crossroads with history and not much else. In this case, it appeared the town was staying alive thanks to the Billy the Kid Museum.

More often, it was occasional old ranch buildings that were falling down.

The Yeso Post Office has seen better days but the building looked like it might still be salvageable if you had a reason to live in Yeso. Like almost everyone else, I just kept rolling through town.

Duran was once a railroad town but the railroad left and later the town was impacted when I-25 was built. There are a number of interesting abandoned stone buildings and about 35 remaining residents in town.

Corona is about 100 miles NW from Roswell but apparently close enough to be visited by aliens. As near as I could tell, this one was a legal alien.

Another scenic historic maker, this one commemorating the Trinity Site - the location of the first atomic bomb test. The actual site is well to the southeast of the sign.

Home for the night was BLM's Datil Well Campground in Datil, NM. This a first come, first served campground at about 7500' elevation. No hookups, but absolutely spotless bathrooms, and a miniature visitor's center with wifi. I don't think any of the sites are level, but I was able to get close enough with a couple lego blocks that I didn't have to unhook.

The weather was delightful. The campground is not far from the continental divide. I was pleasantly surprised to see wildflowers thanks to the elevation and recent rains.