Day 25: At the Confluence
We were able to leave camp at River Mile 7 while it was still in shade and make the short float to the confluence in the relative cool of the morning. We’d reached the Colorado! We stopped at the register to check river conditions and campsite availability. Here Lars was able to determine that we could have Lower Brown Betty and Lower Ten Cent as our camps, which were his preferences. We bounced around Rapid 1 and pulled in to the beach at Betty. Although sandy beaches are common at lower water, Brown Betty was the first (and only) time on this trip that we were able to camp on such a beach. It was a joy not to have to hack our way through tamarisk or scramble up a slope to reach camp. We were laying over here so those who wanted to could hike up to The Doll House – a unique collection of rock spires on the plateau above – the next day.
Continue reading “In John Wesley Powell’s Wake: Cataract Canyon and Home (June 2019)”
Day 19: Past the Crystal Geyser
The pleasures of Green River were delightful, but we had a river to run, so first thing in the morning it was back to the boats. Our first stop below Green River was at Crystal Geyser where a failed 1930s attempt at an oil well resulted in an on-going eruption of mineral and carbon dioxide rich water. After an day on flat water, we pulled into a campsite at Anvil Bottom. The site itself was good but we had to cut a path through the tamarisk (an invasive shrub) to reach it. We were camped below a feature known locally as The Anvil (or Inkwell). Despite these existing local appellations, Powell went ahead and named it Dellenbaugh’s Butte in 1871.
Continue reading “In John Wesley Powell’s Wake: Labyrinth & Stillwater Canyons (June 2019)”
Day 13: Into Desolation Canyon
We left the cucumber beetles at Hydes Bottom (except for those that had stowed away on the rafts) and motored down to Sand Wash. Once there, we exchanged passengers (six off / six on) and continued on (now rowing) into Desolation Canyon. The east side of the canyon is Ute tribal land. A recent decision by the tribe to close all access to their land cut the campsites available in the canyon in half. As Desolation is a popular rafting destination, this meant increased competition for campsites suitable for our large group. This is something that concerned Lars the whole way through the canyon. Today we were able to find a nice tree-rich campsite across from Peters Point. A short walk from there took us to a clear impression of a fossilized turtle shell in a large rock. It wouldn’t have been a sharper impression if it had been intentionally cast.
Continue reading “In John Wesley Powell’s Wake: Desolation & Gray Canyons (June 2019)”
Day 8: To Horseshoe Bend
As noted, the Green River in Uinta Basin is flat water, with few opportunities to go ashore. We pushed-off from Placer Point and rowed down to where the Highway 40 bridge crosses the Green. The only place we could find to pull in for lunch was under that bridge! At that, the river was high enough to make it a bit of a tight fit. After lunch, we continued rowing and rowing and rowing along looking for a place to camp. Finally, late in the day, we found a marginal, mosquito-infested site on the north side of Horseshoe Bend. Not one of the great campsites but at least we were off the river for the night.
Continue reading “In John Wesley Powell’s Wake: Uinta Basin North & South (June 2019)”
Day 5: Canyon of Lodore
From Pot Creek, we made a short run – through Hells Half Mile Rapid (yet another moment of truth for Powell) – to a delightful, tree- and shade-rich camp at Rippling Brook (we would all learn to really appreciate shade later in the trip). The afternoon was consumed with a short, but steep, hike up to Rippling Brook Falls concealed in a grotto above the camp.
Continue reading “In John Wesley Powell’s Wake: Lodore, Whirlpool, and Split Mountain Canyons (June 2019)”
Day 1: Flaming Gorge Dam to Red Canyon
After gathering at the OARS boat house in Vernal, Utah, we were shuttled to our put-in at the Spillway Boat Ramp below Flaming Gorge Dam. We arrived to find the dam’s bypass tubes going full tilt, causing the Green River to run high, swift, and cold. Such high water would be with us throughout our journey, moving us along briskly but also limiting our campsite options in some stretches due to flooding. On the far upside, this high water drowned a lot of mosquitoes. 😀
Continue reading “In John Wesley Powell’s Wake: Flaming Gorge to Lodore Canyon (June 2019)”
On May 24, 1869, nine men, lead by John Wesley Powell, left Green River, Wyoming for the purpose of exploring the Green and Colorado Rivers. On August 30, 1869, ninety-nine days later, Powell and five of his remaining men reached the confluence of the Colorado and Virgin Rivers in southern Utah. Thus ended arguably one of the most epic explorations of the American West, perhaps second only to that of Lewis and Clark some six decades earlier.
Continue reading “In John Wesley Powell’s Wake: The 150th Anniversary Trip (June 2019)”