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Green River Chapter 2

Hey Joe Canyon to Potato Bottom

Bowknot Bend

A few miles downstream I came to an iconic section of the Green River, called Bowknot Bend. I noticed a dirt road skirted this section. Well, "dirt road" is a generous term... I found a spot to tether my boat in the water, bushwhacked through some dense willows and found the trail, hellbent on using the hiking shoes and poles I had been lugging with me now for several days.

The shore was mostly obscured by the thin green line making it hard to see my boat from the trail, so I built a cairn and laid out a line of stones so I'd know where my boat was, on the way back (you can barely see the blue of my boat in the picture above).

I hiked for only a half mile or so until the trail became densely overgrown. Again I tried bushwhacking, hoping the trail would open back up, but the mosquitos were SO BAD in the brush. I could literally hear their swarming and if anyone saw me, it probably looked like I was doing a weird Elaine-from-Seinfeld dance... randomly swatting and kicking at the air.

I turned back.

Despite this being my third strike at hiking, I wasn't ready to give up.

Horseshoe Canyon

How do I not have any pictures of Horseshoe Canyon!? Wow... this area was an unexpected oasis in the desert; a natural marvel of engineering and someplace I would LOVE to go back and truly explore.

The river used to go into the canyon and make another hairpin turn, carving around a massive butte. But over the millennia, the river decided to cut off the hairpin, thus shortening its course by about three miles. It left a sprawling, lush, relatively flat, river-level area.

I was approaching it later in the afternoon. The setting sun was hitting it, making it sparkle gold. Not too far from it, with an incredible view into the canyon was a large sandbar that would be a perfect area to camp, but another group had the same idea. We waved and I kept paddling. Not too much further I found a vacant sandy island and set up camp.

This trip was the first time I didn't bring a stove and relied 100% on ready-to-eat meals. For the most part, they were delicious. I packed lots of variety; a lot of Indian and Hispanic meals, supplemented with oatmeal, chicken packets, peanut butter, and fruit & nut bars.

To supplement my dinners, I brought packs of pre-cooked rice. Note to self: these packets contain parboiled rice... meant to cook the rest of the way in the microwave. Yeah, my stomach was not happy.

Rise and shine

Despite another big thunderstorm rolling in overnight, I slept something like ten hours! I emerged from my tent in nothing but my underwear and a thin wool shirt, stretched and let out a moan only to see two people floating quietly past me. Staring at me.

I think I shouted at them something like, "I slept like a baby last night!" To which they didn't say anything back... just waved and kept on floating. Jesus, I can be awkward sometimes.

A few miles downstream I passed the last public takeout area, called Mineral Bottom. I saw the two people who had passed my camp earlier in the morning. From there on, I didn't expect to see anyone else. And that would turn out to be correct.

Canyonlands National Park

The water was so incredibly calm entering the park. Due in part to excitement and safety, I had been "front loading" my first few days with extra miles, in case I had to take a zero day because of weather or health. So by now, I was really ahead of schedule.

I remember thinking, "Wow, this landscape is incredible... from here on out, I can put my paddle down, grab my book, relax and literally let the river carry me the rest of the way."

I did, and it was divine! Eventually, I meandered upon a really beautiful sandbar and decided to set up camp. I ate an early dinner, filtered a few gallons of water, read, and journaled. I even had time to be bored. I was blissfully naive to what the next day would have in store for me...

Filtering water

Bats and stars

The previous nights were quite stormy. Some nights brought thunder and lightning but no rain. I loved those nights! Especially when I was tucked between two giant canyon walls. Hearing the thunder reverberate from one wall to the other, ping-ponging all the way down the canyon was unreal.

But tonight, the skies were mostly blue, so I elected to sleep without the rainfly on. At dusk, I watched as more than a dozen bats haphazardly swooped and swarmed around my tent, dive-bombing the net to scoop up juicy mosquitos. They were so close I could hear the clicking and chattering noises they make.

Once the sun went down, the stars came out, and I was treated to many shooting stars.

This was one of the most loveliest days of the whole trip.

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