Rafting the San Juan River III 18-Jun-2021

DAY 3: Mendenhall Camp to Twin Canyon Camp

River Flow: 1,290 cfs (36.5 m3/s)
Air Temperature: 103°F (39°C) high / 73°F (23°C) low

We would spend the better part of this day wending our way through the canyons of the Goosenecks to straighter sections beyond. Aside from the soaring and varied geology – and some big horn sheep – the principal human feature along this stretch is the Honecker Trail.

Morning at Mendenhall Camp
Stevie drives the gear boat downriver
Puffy clouds and layered rock
Big horn sheep grazing by the river
Through the Goosenecks I
Through the Goosenecks II
Through the Goosenecks III
Through the Goosenecks IV
Through the Goosenecks V

We stopped for lunch at Bump Camp (RM 40.9) where, if you were willing to hike a little uphill, you could find shade under a ledge – which I did. Then it was on past the bottom of the Honaker Trail at RM 45. During an overly optimistic gold boom in the early 1890s, Henry Honaker built an anticipated supply route for gold miners between the San Juan River and the cliffs tops, some 1,200 feet (366 m) above. Viewed from below it’s almost hard to imagine how he found his way down through the cliffs and ledges – and how much work it took to do this. Sadly (for him at least), the gold rush was so short-lived (and unprofitable) that the trail was never used for its intended purpose. Today it’s a popular hiking destination – when temperatures aren’t ruinous. Just past the Honecker Trail, we entered the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Through the Goosenecks VI
A huge chunk of one of the layers above had fallen into the river – one started to wonder if any other large pieces were on the verge of plunging toward us?
A small, unnamed rapid just above Twin Canyon Camp

The open expanse at Twin Canyon Camp at RM 48.5 had limited shade, so we did a short walk into the canyon itself. We soon came to a pourover blocking the canyon and to a pair of horns poking over a boulder. Fearing we might inadvertently keep a big horn sheep from leaving the canyon, we retreated. Looking back, we could see a mother big horn with a young one (less than a yearling) in tow. Not long after we left the canyon, the two of them emerged and headed downstream.

A big horn sheep (arrow) at the base of the pourover
The view from blessed shade in the canyon
Sunset at Twin Canyon Camp

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