Seven Days on Utah's Green River
May 10 to May 16, 2009 Ruby Ranch to Spanish Bottom
Paddlers in Sea Kayaks: Rick Wiebush,  Bunny Wagner, Bob Huber, Yvonne Thayer, Kim Neutziling, Mark Webster; in Discovery 169 canoes: Chip Walsh, Ken Quagliana
By Chip Walsh, 6/6/2009
Photos by Chip and others where noted
Our little bus from Tag-a-Long was stuffed with gear and paddlers as we headed from Moab to Ruby Ranch.

It was entertaining when our driver, Joe, stopped the bus and got out and talked to some cows.

The drive from Moab to Ruby Ranch took about an hour and 45 minutes.

Here is the put-in at Ruby Ranch.  River condition was judged as "high".  We speculated on the speed of the current.  I tossed in a stick, and was barely able to keep pace with it while walking along the bank, so my guess was 4.5mph current speed.

This was my first exposure to Utah's southern desert dust.  The entire parking ara was covered with an inch and a half of dust the consistency of flour.
The speed of the current made it hard to ferry across river to an eddy while waiting for all of our boats to clear the ramp.
Our group of eight, in two canoes and five kayaks were on the Green River by about noon.  We'd left the hotel in Moab by 8 a.m.
We entered the canyon soon after launching.
This picture was taken before Ken moved his water bags from stern to bow, which improved the trim of the boat over what you seee here.
I was very impressed with these canyon walls, which in retrospect seem tiny.
We stopped in a canyon called Trin Alcove.  The rest of the group disappeared into the canyon leaving Ken and me behind to take a picture of this tree growing in a very unusual shape.
Yvonne shows graceful kayaking style while exiting the canyon.  Another group was camped just beyond the bend and you can see their gear on creek left.
At the center of this image, you may be able to make out a tent and some seated campers.  This is Ten Mile Point and it was the site of our first night's camping on the Green River.  Mike, Mark and Chip felt like climbing, so we scrambled up the "slick rock" bluff overlooking the site.

Water level increased about eight inches overnight.
Interesting sculpting in the slick rock on Ten Mile Point
Marc Webster took my picture atop the bluff.

photo by Marc Webster

Rick skirts a canyon wall on Day 2.
I crawled into the entrance of an old Uranium Mine in Hey Joy Canyon.  Once I'd crammed my torso into the hole, I blocked all the light.  This picture wasn't so much for the picture as it was to fire the flash on the camera so I could see if there was enough room inside to turn around.

There were two openings.  It appeared the lower right opening went back a good ways and branched out.  The opening into which I crawled was just a blind room.

View  back towards the river, looking down Hey Joe canyon.
We stopped at  Bow Knot Bend with the idea of climbing up the ridge to take in the view of the Green River coming and going.  Only a few hundred meters separate the river bends by land.  On the water, it is about five miles around Bow Knot bend.

The group is taking advantage of some shade to eat lunch.  The heat and late hour convinced us to continue downriver rather than climb the bend.
"Delathering Station"
Somewhere below Bow Knot Bend
Second night camp was made on an island, somewhere downstream of a nice site we passed at the mouth of Two Mile Canyon.  It had gotten late in the day, and we were glad to have a site.

Water level increased about six inches overnight.
Kim joins Ken in another of Ken's delathering stations.  This one is at Fort Bottom.  We ate some lunch here while Mark and Rick continued around the bend to stake out a campsite for the night.
The "outlaw house" near Fort Bottom had been built by a man named Walker around the year 1900.  The roof gone, it was creaking in the blustery wind on the day I visited.
From the Walker house, I followed a trail to a nearby butte, in search of the Indian ruins.
I met the rest of our party on the way up the butte.  The final climb is up a vertical, ten-foot wall with good toe and hand holds.  Atop the butte sits this Indian ruin.

NPS Ranger Mike Greenwell was on site to greet us.  He gave the age of the stone structrue as 1200 years old.  Kelsey's book cites it as 800 years. 

It's called Fort Bottom, but my guess is it functioned more as a permanently manned lookout station rather than a fort.  For it to have fulfilled its function as a fortification, an attacker would have had to scale the surrounding walls to get on top of the butte.  The views that follow in the next few pictures should make it obvious that it would have been very difficult to sneak up on the place.  I think the butte wall was plenty of defense and the small stone structure was merely to provide some comfort to the Indians that had to sit up there.

Photo by Ranger Mike on Yvonne's camera
Looking back towards Walker House from the Indian Fort and a bend in the Green River.
Looking downriver from the White Rim Trail near Fort Bottom.
Ranger Mike had told us the day's winds were 20 - 30 mph, with gusts in the 40s.  We'd fought through these winds much of the day on the river, and the statistics seemed about right.  Yet somehow, up on the White Rim Trail, on the land bridge over which this wind was sweeping, we were beset by these beatles.  Bunny thought it so remarkable she asked me to take a picture.

We later learned that these beatles have been introduced in a biological counterattack on the invasive tamarack tree which currently dominate the shorelines of the Green.
Upriver view from near Fort Bottom.  The White Rim Trail runs across a land "bridge" at image top right.
Bunny, Bob, and Yvonne pose on the White Rim Trail.
Bunny poses (and gathers beatles) on the land bridge.  Fort Bottom can be seen atop the butte, image top left.
The daily cursing contest.  This time, with his kayak on a ledge near our campsite at Fort Bottom, Rick proceeds to curse all his gear into a hatch of his rented kayak.  Years of kayak tripping have provided Rick with the ability to utter just the right curses, in the right order and frequency, to get all his gear to climb into the kayak on its own.  Now that's talent!
Boats await gear and paddlers to start day four of our river trip.  Where the rock walls went directly into the water we had a tamarack-free loading zone. 

Overnight, the water level held more or less steady.
This picture was taken looking skyward while I was enjoying some shade beneath an overhanging rock ledge.

I did not see any birds, but I assume the barnicle-looking things on the underside of the ledge are bird nests.
Cactus flowers at Tuxedo Bottom.
Unknown side canyon.
Petroglyph panel at Dead Horse Canyon
At image center, Kim makes her way past the petroglyphs and around the bend to the camp kitchen.

Overnight, at Dead Horse Canyon, the river receded about eight inches.
Looking downriver from the kitchen ledge at Dead Horse Canyon

photo by Marc Webster
Kelsey called Dead Horse Canyon "dull" because it is a dead end, box canyon.  Yvonne and I took a walk back into the canyon and found it far from dull.
I paddled in the canoe with Ken from Dead Horse to Water Canyon, day 6 of the trip.  I had a very relaxing day and caught this shot of Rick piloting the "groover mover".
Did I mention this was a relaxing day on the river?

photo by Yvonne Thayer
Looking down into Jasper Canyon.

If you download the full size image of this picture, you might be able to pick out hikers near image center. 

Ken and I got left behind, again.  Should we be getting a complex about this?  Ironically, we started our hike and walked directly to the Anastasi Cliff Dwelling.  The others had drifted off into this canyon, where I spotted them an hour later, after climbing to a tiny ledge at the base of a sheer walled maisif and following it around into the canyon.

Upon sighting out group, I began bellowing "I'll take the high road, you take the low road..." at the top of my lungs.  At my level, the echoes were awesome.  The hikers later told me they couldn't make out a word, and it took them a long time to spot me.  The acoustics were such that I could here them as if they were standing next to me.
Looking out Jasper Canyon.
All together at the Cliff Dwelling.
Heads snap upward during a rare fly-by of super groover, or some such phenomenon.  I have no idea.
We made camp at Water Canyon for two nights, so we could dedicate an entire day to hiking the area.  Here the group is making its way along a narrow ledge to get past the first large, dry, water fall in Water Canyon.
On this ledge, some felt more confident on all fours.
The ledge widened and was almost behind the group by the time this photo was snapped.
This narrow offshoot from Water Canyon led us towards a saddle between Water Canyon and Shot Canyon
Narrow offshoot canyon continues.
Our planned hike would have taken us beyond the saddle, into Shot Canyon, pictured here, and on towards Chimney Rock.  However, we'd hiked so slowly we decided we were out of time, and would soon begin our return trip down Water Canyon.
Hiking about between Water Canyon and Shot Canyon.  I sat this part out,  but the group called the viewpoint sensational.
Here's the "top of the world" view from atop that knob on the image above.

photo by Bunny Wagner
The shadows were beginning to creep over the camp at Water Canyon by the time we returned from the hike.

photo by Yvonne Thayer
Back at our Water Canyon camp site, Ken delathered in the shade.
Bob's delathering in the other direction.
On the final day of the trip, Mark decided to offer an impromptu "moving water clinic" At left, paddlers watch Mark execute some kind of funny move with one blade in the air.  Crimminy, why don't they just get canoes?
Rick looks back at one of Tag-A-Longs shuttle boats.  This boat would have sank at the pickup point where it not for Rick and other's furious bailing effort.

After the Green flowed into the Colorado, the character of the river became ominous.  The water was high, so there was little danger of hitting anything, but the eddies, whirlpools and holes were large, powerful, and unpredictable to the point of making me wonder if I would be able to maintain control of my canoe.  Fortunately, this was at about the point where we were to rendezvous with the Tag-A-Long boats, so I never found out if I was up to that challenge.

Between bailing and loading, it took a few hours to get all the boats and gear onboard.  The boat ride back to Moab was about two hours.  At the landing (Potash), the boats were pulled up onto trailers, then towed  behind the bus back to Tag-A-Long's facility, about a half hour drive.
Final night talent show
We presented ourselves with a two act talent show after dinner on the final night of the trip.  Mark Webster presented the Water Muffin Song.  We'd come up with different names for the hydroaulic upwellings that occurred more or less randomly as we proceeded downriver.  "Water muffin" was a great descriptor because the upwellings seemed to have a dome, like a muffin top, and were harmless, as is a muffin.  Mark worked lyrics around the concept and came up with a  very creative poem presented in a rap or slam style, Mark tapping out a rythm on his chest as he went along.  I think we were all impressed and appreciative of his effort.  The second act was by me, supported by  Bob and Mark as my back up singers.  I knicknamed the canoe I had on this trip "the groover mover".  Groover is one name given to the device for collecting human waste on a leave-no-trace trip, and in many hours in the canoe bastardized versions of songs such as the Rascals' "Grooving" or Manfred Mann's "Groovy kind of love" would run through my mind.  But the song was based on a real oldie, The Sir Douglas Quintet's "She's about a mover."

"The Water Muffin Song"


Water muffin left, eddy on the right.
Got Moenkopi rising and we doin' a'ight.
Hundred million years stacked on a thousand foot height
And a full moon falling on an Anasazi night.

Verse 1:

First we got Rick, he's got the Moses power.
He can guide through the maze but he smell like a flower.

Next we got Chip, he real man stalk.
He can climb in a mine, he can pee off a rock.

Then we got Ken and he's hot, but he rather
Be sipping a beer than workin' a lather.

And then we got me and I know it's a stretch --
I'm tryin' to rhyme but I'm still on the ledge.


Verse 2:

Then we got Bob and he loves to hike.
Traverse narrow ledges every morning and night

And then we got Bunny, she got a knack for the climb.
Scramble any rock, but leave no one behind.

Now Yvonne's got grapefruit and ginger and mango.
You know she's good friends with the Trader Joe.

And Kim pulls from her bag fresh veggies and treats.
Why they taste so good? Cuz she knows what she eats!


She's about a Mover

She's about a mover
She's about a groover

She was floatin' down the Green
Just as sweet as she could smell.
When she get's there Mark is happy
Cause home is where she's at!

She's about a mover
She's about a groover

Kim puts her where it pretty
In the morning all will yell

She's about a mover
She's about a groover

Oh my Groover,
Amazing how you smell
Oh my Groover,
Without you it'd be hell!

She's about a mover
She's about a groover

Photo of Groover and the Flushtones (right) taken by Bunny Wagner

Weather Notes:
The weather was uniformly hot and dry.  Day time highs were probably in the nineties.   One night it was cool enough to zip into the bags, but most nights it was still warm at bed time, and I'd just wake up in the night and pull the bag over me as it cooled.  Camping on the island, wind came up, and after sweeping over the the hot rock canyon faces the wind was surprisingly hot when it hit us.  It rained once, about four drops.  The humidity is very low.  Sweat seldom had a chance to accumulate.  The water temperature was about 60.  I swam several times (fully clothed) and the evaporative cooling left me in shivers.

Note on Potable Water on the Green River Trip