Packrafting – An activity in which you add even more weight to your pack (PFD, packraft, paddles, kit) and schlep it all down to the river so you can float down the river in something the step up from a pool toy, get wet while paddling, get muddy because you tend to hike out via lesser-known canyons vs. a defined area, and then haul it all again UP another canyon. But you do get great views! 😉
With Joan out and about with a friend this weekend, I took advantage of my temporary “bachelor” status and took off on a local but intriguing packrafting trip.
The route saw me walk down one canyon, put into the river, enter another canyon downriver, climb out via a 1930s ranching trail, and pop out on the canyon rim at my truck.
As all good trips started, I parked on an obscure road at a non-defined trailhead, hefted my pack, and started walking down a jeep road that became increasingly more technical.
Besides one older couple who gave a friendly wave from their RAZR, I had the road to myself on a surprisingly quiet Saturday. (other than two separate groups of dispersed campers whose snarling and growling dogs came up to me. And made me rethink carrying pepper spray. As always, the dog’s friendly! 🙄 )
From the mouth of the canyon, I inflated my raft and put it into the Green.
With the recent rains of the past month, the water still had a very brown cast with much silt and debris. But the red rock of the canyon walls and the blue sky above made for a scenic paddle down the otherwise calm river.
And other than a blue heron, I had the river to myself.
Towards the end of the day, I saw a couple of parties camped out along the river but continued to enjoy the quiet of the river.
I soon reached the mouth of my exit canyon and only managed to get my gear, clothing, and possibly my food, only mildly muddy.
Soon after packing up my gear, the ground solidified, and I reached a BLM sign and a historical panel that intrigued me for a while.
On the canyon wall, I spied one of the “Julien” panels that date back to the early-mid part of the 19th century.
Denis Julien, an American of French-Canadian descent, left his literal mark all over the area I call home. Quite possibly the first Euro-American to make it down to Spanish Bottom, pass Cataract Canyon, and back UP the Green River. Well-known enough at the time that Merriwether Lewis mentioned Julien in a dispatch.
This particular panel possibly represents a sailboat Julien used to sail up the Green. Another panel, just upriver, has a later date in the month and gives some evidence for this theory.
Arguably the most iconic of the Julien inscriptions. Alas, some “BubbaGlyphs” on this nearly 200-yr old marking.
Nearby I found another inscription from the US Reclamation Service (later the Bureau) from a survey done before Moab had a bridge and required a ferry crossing to enter the valley. After a train ride and stage ride from Thompson Springs, over thirty miles away.
Or, I suspect, they floated downriver as Powell did a generation ago.
On a hunch, I poked around more and saw faint anthromorphs from earlier travelers.
I hoisted my pack again and walked down the canyon in the later afternoon light. The rock seemed to soak up the sun.
The rains made for a flowing stream and lessened the water I needed to carry.
I found a place to call home for the evening, threw down my ground pad, and brewed up some cider and rum. The nearly full moon lit up the canyon almost as brilliantly as the sun earlier in the day.
Morning came, and I enjoyed the walk up the canyon toward the rim.
Besides the history, I enjoyed the scenery, the quiet river with few people, and (surprisingly) both the canyons I walked to myself.
Even the desert shows the changing seasons, with the rabbit brush displaying its yellow hue of autumn.
I reached the canyon’s end, spotted a cairn, and made my way up a 1930s cattle trail barely visible. A few cairns, some rusted barbed wire, and a few logs indicate the previous use. One part proves interesting with a full pack.
I soon reached the canyon rim just before my truck. But I could not help but take one last view of where I had hiked and paddled the day before.
Within an hour of the place I call home, I parked, walked down a canyon, paddled a river, and walked up another canyon. Gotta say. I’m enjoying this place I call home a fair amount.