Posted by: carogouin | October 7, 2009

down the green river

Reflections on the Green River.

Reflections on the Green River.

Our one and only commitment on this trip thus far has been to make it to Moab, Utah by September 19th, since that was when we would meet some friends to spend a week canoeing down the Green River.  We are happy to say that we accomplished that goal, and even arrived a day earlier to explore Moab a bit.  After traveling by ourselves for almost 2 months, we were thrilled to have friends and companions with whom we could share part of our journey.  And so it began. . .

We met Brent and Mandy (MD natives who live in Los Angeles), Brad (Brent’s father and our esteemed guide and coordinator leading up to and during the trip), and Steve (Brad’s friend from work) on Saturday, September 20th.  Although we had chores to do before hitting the river on Sunday, such as grocery shopping for 6 people for 6 days (that translates to a heck of a lot of food), and purchasing miscellaneous gear (i.e. big cooking pot courtesy of the local thrift shop, fish bait, rope, etc.), our first order of business was to head over to the majestic Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park.  We drove about 30 minutes west of Moab and discovered one of the sacred arches of the region.  The cool thing with this arch, as opposed to the 2,000 others that live in nearby Arches National Park, is that you can actually walk on this one, if you so brave, which we did.

Brent and Mandy under Mesa Arch.

Brent and Mandy under Mesa Arch.

Caro on top of the world!

Caro on top of the world!

Sitting on the arch.

We made it to Moab!

All of us on the arch.

The whole crew.

After a little bit of sightseeing, we headed back to town to complete our chores and treated ourselves to one last restaurant experience at Pasta Jays before we would be forced to fend for ourselves for the next 6 days.  Though I have to admit, we did extremely well and ate like kings the entire trip!  Thanks to Brad for putting together the menu and grocery list! 

We woke up early the next morning, packed up all of our stuff, stopped by the grocery store one last time (since they were holding our food and freezing our meat and water), and arrived at the outfitter: Tex’s Riverways.  There we packed, consolidated, transferred, moved all of our stuff into bins, dry bags and duffels and loaded the truck. We listened to a quick speech about what to do and not to do.  To do: leave no trace, pack out what you pack in, poop in a box provided by Tex (what?  more to come…).  Not to do: Cut down trees, litter, pick up any historic or pre-historic objects, canoe past Spanish Bottom and into Cataract Canyon on the Colorado where the class 4 rapids start.  Blah blah blah.

After an hour drive west of Moab, we were put into the Green River at Mineral Bottom.  There we loaded our 3 canoes with all of our gear.  This included 4 coolers, 6 totes, 8+ duffels, 6 chairs, 1 camp kitchen table, 2 water buckets, 1 two-burner stove, 1 fire pan and grill, and of course the poop box. Our mission: canoe 52 miles down the Green River until we reached the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers.  Then canoe a couple more miles down the Colorado, without passing Spanish Bottom, where we would get picked up by Tex’s Riverways’ jet boat, and transported back up the Colorado River (a 2-hour trip).  The plan was to paddle for 4 days and have 2 days of layover, where we could hike, play, relax as we wished.

Brent leading the way.

And we begin...

Paddling again.

An easy float.

On the river.

The Green river is not so green.

Caro and Pat on a boat!

Caro and Pat on a boat!

Paddling.

Some headwind.

Stretching our legs on a sand bar.

Stretch break on a sand bar.

On the river.

'Sailing' on the river with a nice tail wind.

The trip was a great success.  Except for a few clouds and mist on Sunday morning, we had clear blue skies every day (seriously, not a cloud in the sky), minimal wind (except for a fairly strong head wind one afternoon), no rain, no bugs, and perfect temperatures.  Apparently September is the best time to do this.  Although the river is significantly lower than in the spring, which means you don’t drift down quite as fast, we still floated at nearly 2 miles an hour without paddling.  Therefore completing 10-15 miles a day was very realistic and fun!  We traveled 14 miles the first day (Sunday), 17 miles on Monday, rested on Tuesday, another 14 miles Wednesday, rested Thursday, and the last 7 miles to lower Spanish Bottom on Friday, then got picked up Saturday morning.  However, it wasn’t all a walk in the park.  We did work hard – notably every time we stopped for the night.  Setting up camp became quite the chore as we had to haul everything out of the canoe and up to camp (sometimes close to shore, other times further and steeper).  Fortunately, everyone was in great shape and helped out equally – it was a constant team effort.  While someone started on dinner, someone else was working on the fire, making drinks, setting up tents, etc.

Camp.

Our first layover campsite.

Our camp at Dead Horse.

Our camp below Turk's Head.

Our view from camp.

The view looking up river.

Speaking of food, here was the menu for the week.  Breakfast consisted of either oatmeal or eggs and spam (and sometimes potatoes).  Lunch was deli meat or leftovers with cheese, spinach and salsa wrapped up in a tortilla.  Some days we did tuna and crackers.  Towards the end we just did crackers and cheese.  Dinner was the crown jewel.  Here was the lineup: marinated chicken with squash and onions; steak and potatoes with onions; spaghetti with ground meat and marinara sauce with mushrooms (and 5 catfish caught by Brent, Mandy and Brad – delicious!); salmon with squash, spinach and onions; beef stew with potatoes, onions, spinach, corn, peas and red wine; and spaghetti with marinara sauce with tuna and cheese.

Cooking dinner.

SPAM & eggs, mmmm good.

The beef stew.

The beef stew.

After dinner and into the evening our entertainment revolved around the camp fire.  Of course a few other things added to it, such as Gentleman Jack, Glenfiddich, smores, trivial pursuit, storytelling, name tags (we each had our own Lonesome Dove name for the trip), and much more.  Although not necessarily an evening activity, but which incited as much amusement and diversion was the sacred poop box.  This thing was military grade, like something you would use to transport plutonium.  It was probably a foot tall and wide and was hermetically sealed (for good reason).  At times of use, we used the audible signal of “poop on” and “poop off,” to notify others of occupancy and also to assert one’s bravery and/or surrender. The box was conveniently placed in secluded areas with a great view of the river for peace and serenity.

Pat enjoying the view.

Pat enjoying the view from camp.

Winding down for the evening.

Winding down for the evening.

Out of Gentleman Jacks, but whiskey nonetheless.

Out of Gentleman Jack, but whiskey nonetheless.

Moss and Kitty.

Moss and Kitty.

Woodrow and Cornbread.

Woodrow and Cornbread.

Dill and Lori.

Dill and Lori.

The poop box.

The poop box.

On our layover days, we did a number of things and at times nothing at all. We went for hikes into the canyons in search of petroglyphs and ruins from the Anasazi tribes. We did a little fishing, read, swam (or quickly rinsed off since the river was chilly and very brown from sediment), took shelter from the sun, and just hung out.  Whether on or off the water, we continually enjoyed the surrounding landscape.  The tall red sandstone canyons on either side of the river provided a stunning contrast to the bright blue skies.  The rock strata, fallen boulders and evidence of constant erosion gave us a glimpse into the depths of time.  As Brad eloquently put it, we were all at once “terrified, mystified, and delighted.” 

The petroglyphs.

The petroglyphs.

The Anasazi ruins.

The Anasazi ruins.

Fishing.

Fishing.

Abe Lincoln across the street.

Abe Lincoln across the street.

The crescent moon.

The crescent moon.

Gazing at the empty canoes.

Relaxing on the last night at Spanish Bottom.

Clean canoes resting after a long trip.

Our chariots.

The night's sky.

The night's sky.

Thanks to Brad, Brent, Mandy and Steve for a wonderful week!

caption.

The whole gang enjoying some drinks.

On the jetboat back up the Colorado.

On the jet boat back up the Colorado.

The biggest jet boat ever.

And what a jet boat it was!

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Responses

  1. I bet if you could track which photo gets the most hits it would be the poop box. They should sell those at Babie-r-us. Glad to see you are having a great time. It looks like Moab might be called home someday??
    love,
    A

  2. Wonderful pictures!
    You guys look quite comfy in your #722 canoe! Royal seats! Talking about being away from civilization; doesn’t get any better I suppose, with the exception of the poop box…:-)
    Enjoy!
    Love Dad/Bernard

  3. Wow! Beautiful pictures and everyone looks so happy and relaxed. The views are superb! Caroline, is there a special meaning to Kitty?
    Keep having fun,
    Love, Denise/Mom

  4. Whenever I look at your pictures I get really hungry.
    Ry

  5. I want to go camping! Can I be Gus?

  6. […] to LA to hangout with our good friends Brent & Mandy, you might remember them from the glorious Green River canoe trip last year.  After college they moved out to the LA area and recently bought a beautiful home in […]


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