Rafting the Yampa River (2) 31-May-2022

Day 2: Ponderosa Camp to Mathers Hole

The sky gave forth with water most of the night. It managed, reluctantly, to quit doing so around dawn. This allowed the astute camper to avoid having to poop in the rain. We also managed to get through breakfast and pack our sodden tents under threatening, but dry, skies. But then the rain started-up again. Gloom prevailed throughout. Today was a multi-rapid day and no one was ecstatic about getting splashed with very cold water while sitting in the rain. Oh, boo hoo, little rafters. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

Nothing like welcoming the day with a wet tent ๐Ÿ™„
Even the brave rafter smile suffered ๐Ÿ˜ฅ
Only the plants (and ants) relished the rain

But we pushed on. Through Tepee Rapid, Little Joe Rapid, Five Springs Rapid, and Big Joe Rapid. All of these are fun, bouncy rapids, particularly at the high flows the Yampa was experiencing on this day.

Downstream through the gloom
Wait! What light through yonder cliff breaks?
Through Big Joe Rapid
Sunshine! ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜

By the time reached our landing at Signature Cave, the clouds and rain were gone and sunshine reined supreme! It was glorious! The cave was used by indigenous peoples for ages (it held a headdress dated to 1200 CE) and now holds signatures of historic river runners (and, sadly, some graffiti left by douchebags ๐Ÿ˜ฅ). We did a short hike up to see the cave, then returned to the beach for lunch.

Stopping at Signature Cave
The clouds dissipate
Hiking to Signature Cave (arrow)
Cactus flower
A tiny solitary bee harvests pollen from a Globemallow
The view downstream from the trail to the cave
Entering the cave
Inside looking out

After visiting the cave, we continued on down river to tonight’s camp at Mathers Hole.

Continuing on…
A massive water stained wall
Coming ashore for a break
Continuing on (again)…

Mathers Hole is one of the most unique campsites we’ve ever stayed at. It’s nestled under a sweeping 600 foot (182 m) tall, overhanging (!) cliff carved by an oxbow in the river. Our tents were setup essentially underneath this cliff. Good shelter from the sun and rain. But it was hard to let go of the foreboding that came with sleeping directly under a bazillion tons of rock. ๐Ÿฅบ

Under the overhanging cliff at Mathers Hole
Setting up a tent under the huge overhang

The overhang continued to loom but it had been a good, long day, it wasn’t raining, and dinner was excellent, so restful sleep came quickly. Even the scurrying of tiny rodents – which sounded a little like pebbles clattering prior to a massive rockfall – couldn’t keep me awake (for long). Which is not to say I wasn’t just a tiny bit anxious to get out from under this cliff come morning! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Evening on the river
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