Saturday, April 4, 2009

Labyrinth, part II

This is a continuation of my Labyrinth Canyon canoe trip that I took in March 2008 with my two sons and their boy scout troop. We paddled down the Green River in southern Utah, near the towns of Green River and Moab. This was a seven day trip with four and a half days on the river. We paddled a total of 45 miles and hiked several as well.

The Green River is all flat water along this stretch with beautiful, towering canyon walls on both sides. You feel like you've stepped back in time when you are here. Virtually untouched by humans, it's a great trip for nature lovers. The only drawback is that all supplies must be carried along every day, including water, tents, food, and potties. We had to make and carry our own "honey buckets" because it is a BLM wilderness area and supports the "Leave No Trace" method of camping.

At times, we would be as far as a mile apart along the river although we had to have at least a buddy canoe nearby at all times for safety. We stopped for the day when we found areas that we could camp on.

Sometimes the river was so calm, we could just sit back and let the river move us downstream while we enjoyed the sunshine. Although it was March, the weather was great, cold nights and warm days.Can you see the half circles in the rock wall? Some days the winds kicked up and the water got choppy. We traveled down one section of the canyon with whitecaps on the water. It was actually pretty scary when the canoes were bobbing up and down a foot or so in the waves.This was at the end of the day where we found a beach to set up camp.The boys loved to get out in the shallows and pull the canoes free whenever they hit sandbars.We had adventures along the way too. This was a place called Bowknot Bend where a steep hike and climb rewarded us with views of the river on both sides. It is over seven miles by river to go all the way around to the other side. We had to hike through these bushes that were over seven feet tall, kind of like Jurassic Park. One boy actually got lost in them for a short time.Then we all had to climb to the top. You can see one person, in blue, around the middle right of the picture by the dark triangle. Two people had some trouble getting down. They got rimrocked and had to go back up to come down a different way. Here I am climbing the last section.
If you look very carefully you can see our canoes along the shoreline. Look for the white dots towards the middle of the picture along the shore. We were really high up!
Here is a group shot at the top of Bowknot Bend. My two sons are next to me: one in black tee, kneeling, and the other in white tee and bandana.
Here I am, showing the view of the river.And here's Ross proving that he made it, with a view of the river from the other side.
There were some very unusual formations in the rocks along the river.Along the way, there were many sites with ancient Fremont petroglyphs. We visited a few sites.

There were some newer carvings as well. One of the most famous graffiti artists of his time was Denis Julien. He signed his name to several of the places he visited, "D. Julien, 1836, 3 Mai," along with a drawing of his vessel. We found these in one of the canyons near our campsite.
One boy got out and walked over to this island on sandbars that surrounded the island. You can just about see him on the left. Meanwhile his canoe continued across the river with the other boy because the currents got stronger and faster once they got past the sandbar that was around the island. My older son had to paddle across and get him since his buddy wasn't strong enough to paddle back for him and the river was too wide, deep, and cold to swim across. You can see the ripples in the water. This was a pretty fast current at this spot. This spot is across from the boy stranded on the island. This is a view of our camp near Launch Marguerite. The Marguerite was a stern wheeler that traveled up and down the Green River to the towns of Green River and Moab in the early 1900's. We found a rock wall with a huge black inscription, "Launch Marguerite, 09.01.1901."I love all the canyons and buttes. This was taken on our last day of canoeing. John Wesley Powell actually named the Labyrinth Canyon in 1869 when he traveled downriver. He wrote, "There is an exquisite charm in our ride today down this beautiful canyon. It gradually grows deeper with every mile of travel; the walls are symetrically curved and grandly arched, of a beautiful color, and reflected in quiet waters...We are all in fine spirits and the badinage of the men is echoed from wall to wall."
Here's part of our group, posing at Mineral Bottom.
This is a picture of the treacherous road up from Mineral Bottom. My boys love to tell me the story of how, one year, they got caught in a snowstorm and couldn't get the canoes out as planned. Everyone (23 people) piled into a surburban and a pick up (the only cars that were able to travel the road) and spent the night in the Moab KOA gameroom because they had no tents or any other gear. They went back early the next morning while the ground was still frozen and loaded up all the trailers, canoes, and gear.


Dan and Betty Cooksey said...

Wonderful pictures and a wonderful experience. Thanks for sharing.


Train Wreck said...

Oh what a beautiful trip. I love Moab! When I was married to my first "blech" husband we would go to Colorado once a year.We would always go through Moab. I always wanted to eat at the resturaunt at the top of the hill? He never would stop. BUT I went through Moab a few years ago with my wonderful current forever husband. As we are driving, he say "Hey let's eat up there tonight" ?? blink blink, yep I love this man. Oops sorry I got off your story. he he. I would love to take this same trip. You make it look like a great time.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wow! That road. Amazing that anyone ever considered creating a road there to begin with.

Ithought it was interesting that you and the boys always stood on the edge of the group, on the right side, instead of in the middle or back or front. Hmmm....what would Freud say? lol!

Truly Val that was a trip of a lifetime full of great memories. I'm really glad you were able to go...and even more...I hope you experience a few more trips-of-a-lifetime in your future.


Fantastyk Voyager said...

Dan and Betty, thanks, God's creations are certainly beautiful.

Train Wreck, I think you've got a keeper husband now.

Lisa, at least I've got the memories. I doubt that I'll ever have a chance to do a trip like that again. The husband's gone and the boys are grown...

Fantastyk Voyager said...

However, I did write a book about this trip and how to go about preparing and doing it. Now, to get it published... :)

Melanie said...

Wow Val!!! That looks like it was definitely a once in a lifetime kind of trip!!! And can I just say that you are waaaaaaaaaaaaay braver than myself???

I have this thing about water and kidlets (I know yours are older), and I get really nervous about them drowning. It doesn't matter that my kidlets and I are all fish in the water, I still worry!!
Maybe it's because I was sucked out into a riptide when I was four???

You wrote a book???? Please let us know when it is published! :)

PS-What are the 1/2 circles in the rock wall from??

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I was taking a technical writing class in school and had to write an instructional booklet on something so I chose this trip. It turned out to be over 50 pages long! Am I anal or what? I did get it printed up once but it needs a few minor corrections and then I can actually get it printed. It's called Paddling the Labyrinth Canyon: "50 miler" down the Green River in southern Utah.

The Wades said...

Awesome, awesome! You guys will remember that forever.