Green River Canoe Trip Journal  

Black Hills


Stumpy and I started a tradition last year of taking a trip each year during Spring Break. We went to Georgia to visit our Grandparents. We decided this year that we wanted to spend the week doing something outdoors. We initially wanted to take a backpacking trip, but since my knees were acting up, that was out of the question. We did some thinking while Jason was home for Christmas vacation and decided to take a float trip down the Green River in Utah.

Sometime in January the task of organizing the trip somehow fell to me. So I did some reading and poking around and then kind of did my standard procrastination and put off the planning. March came around and Jason reminded me that Spring break was fast approaching. So I jumped on the Internet and did some exploring, I also talked to a friend of mine who had done a similar trip and got some insight from him on where, when, and who to use as an outfitter. Jason and I finalized our dates, reservations were made and the members of our group were finalized. The final trip participants were, Jason, our Dad Wayne, Kaiti - Jason's girlfriend, and myself.

About two weeks before the trip I started to plan in earnest, Dad and I discussed the logistics of the trip, such as food, transportation, gear, etc. Dad and I decided that we had most of the equipment that we needed except for another plastic canoe paddle,and the group needed some dry-bags for our gear, in case of capsize. in case of capsize. After a trip to Scheels to look at dry bags and purchase a canoe paddle, Dad ordered a large pack for our sleeping bags from Cabelas. I purchased three smaller dry bags from Sierra Trading Post for our personal gear. With the gear situation secured it was

time for me to plan the food. For some reason the large task of providing nourishment to the group fell on my shoulders, hmm wonder how that works. So I planned a menu and thought about going shopping. Three nights before the day of our departure I finalized our menu and hit Safeway. I got everything we needed that wasn't perishable, made a list of the perishable goods for purchasing in Utah and repackaged the food. Only five hours to get all the food together! If you want to see a copy of our menu, complete shopping list, and food prep instructions, clicks here.

So Friday the 22nd of March rolled around and after a half a day of work Dad and I packed up and departed Rapid City about 2:30 PM (only an hour and a half late, not bad for a work day). We drove almost uneventfully to Laramie to crash at Jason's house. I say almost uneventfully, because I managed to smoke a rabbit under the tires of the van about 5 miles outside of Laramie, sorry bunny, you ran under my tires. We arrived in Laramie, found Jason's house and were treated to an excellent dinner of homemade calzones. We ran through our gear and decided that we needed to leave Laramie at 7:00 the next morning (good thing I wasn't driving, that's early!).

We left Laramie on time and drove across the state of Wyoming, it was a nice drive except for the fact that we couldn't go over 65 miles an hour. It was so windy that we were tossed around by the canoe on the roof.  Dad was worried the canoe was going to blow off.  We lunched at the McDonalds in Kaiti's former home Rock Springs Wyoming Yee-Haw!

After a nice lunch, and Kaiti getting to spend as much time as she needed to in her former hometown (20 minutes I believe?).  We headed on down the road to our eventual destination of Terry's house in Price UT.  As we crossed the border into Utah we stopped to play tourist at Flaming Gorge dam, what a large dam.  At the time it was quite impressive, but looking at the pictures it makes me sad to see the river stopped. I guess people need electricity damn then anyway!  As we passed the damn and continued down the road we stopped and checked out a firefighter's memorial and a campground. It was pretty, but Kaiti wouldn't let Jason and I pee off the memorial.  We wanted honor firefighters the way they would like to be, oh well, it was fun to have a snowball fight anyway.

We trekked ever onward and made it to Price. Somewhere on the way between Flaming Gorge and Price as we wound down a steep mountain road, Kaiti and Jason got stuck behind a semi truck, so Dad and I drove leisurely and below the speed limit to let them catch up. They didn't catch us as Kaiti had a little visit (ticket free!) with a Utah state trooper, oops. Dad and I pulled off the Interstate at the 1st Exit into Price and read our books, 20 minutes later Jason and Kaiti caught up. So we followed Kaiti and Jason to Terry's house and arrived at our first night's bivouac. Terry was glad to see us, and gave us a tour of his very spacious house. We then enjoyed an awesome spaghetti diner and hung out, chatted a bit, and watched the Discovery channel. We discussed the plan for the next day and all sacked out for the night.

The next morning we all woke up grabbed a spot of breakfast and piled into Terry's Honda CRV. Off we went to check out the "Little Grand Canyon". Terry turned out to be an awesome tour guide. The "Little Grand Canyon" or Wedge Overlook was awesome, the pictures <LINK> don't even begin to do it justice, but what a site to see. The river, the layers of sandstone, the possible cliff dwellings, wow what a cool place. We hiked down into the gorge a bit to get a closer look at the terrain and get comfortable with the desert. It was a nice little hike and definitely worth the price of admission.

After we visited The Wedge, terry called a buddy of his on his cell phone and got some driving directions to a place that had some petroglyphs. We had trouble getting a signal and pulled of to investigate the base of an interesting bluff. We found some cool rocks that had wave patterns in them; some really neat volcanic bombs (maybe) some awesome formations, and a whole lot of desert, but no petroglyphs. We called Terry's friend back and received further instruction to where the petroglyphs were. We ventured further on around the base of this bluff and found some large rocks that were set a ways from the bluff. We found our first petroglyphs. Nothing too impressive, but some nice rock art anyway. There was quite a bit of additional marking on the rock, people from the 1800's and the mid 1900's, cool stuff.

We were then promised more petroglyphs and a dinosaur track. So we took Terry's Honda offroading and discovered this pile of tumbleweeds filling the road. So we took a minor detour off the road, so as not to scratch up Terry's car too much and found an elk carcass. Of course Jason had to investigate, and he discovered that the elk's ivory teeth were still intact, so out comes the Leatherman and Jason yanks on them. After much yanking, some umm, "encouragement" from the rest of us and out popped the teeth. Of course, the elk was quite, umm, fragrant, so I dumped water on Jason's hands to get most the stink off. Kaiti commented, as he climbed in the car "Don't touch me with those stinky hands." We had a good time at Jason's expense joking about stinky hands and we continued into Buckhorn Canyon.

At the mouth of Buckhorn Canyon we followed our phone tour guide and pulled off the road. After hiking a few hundred feet up the side of a hill we moved a rock and found an awesome dinosaur footprint. Very cool, worth the drive right there and the trip hasn't even begun! So we nosed around a bit and then went questing for pictographs.

We found two sites that had some awesome pictographs and petroglyphs. The first site was mostly petroglyphs, and they were pretty faint, but the showed up really well on film. It's pretty awesome to see rock art that's 1000 years old! The second site had a combination of pictographs and petroglyphs in the same site. This was a site that had been restored by the State of UT (apparently there had been past vandalism) and was an awesome rock art site. All the pictures blew me away. We spent a half hour or some contemplating the site and as it was getting dark headed out of the canyon back to Price.

During dinner at the pizza hut we all chatted about what an awesome day and complemented Terry on hiss tour guiding skills. It was a great day, and even if we didn't make it to the river we were all pretty happy. The desert country out there is some amazing country. Beautiful in a sparse and harsh way, the wide-open spaces and pristine beauty are something to behold.

So we went home, tired, dusty, and relaxed. On the way home we stopped at the grocery store and grabbed a few perishable food items that I hadn't bought in Rapid City and headed to bed. We got up the next morning at 6:00 or something insanely early so that we could make the hour and a half drive to Moab and not be late. (We were warned about not being late by the outfitter). We arrived in Moab and found the outfitter with no problem . We paid our balance with the outfitter and transferred our gear from our van to the outfitter's truck and headed out to the put it.

The drive to the put in was about 45 minutes back in the exact same direction that we had just come from earlier that morning. I received a bit of ribbing from the other trip members about why we needed an outfitter. We probably didn't, but it was sure easier to have one than not. While we drove we were given some instructions from the "guide" Dirk. He was a cool guy and after he found out Stumpy was a firefighter and the rest of us were pretty responsible individuals he really didn't lecture us much. Apparently he gets many different skill levels of people and its tough to know what level of environmental impact awareness these differing groups have. I can imagine that's the most challenging part of his job.

Dirk was a really interesting guy, he seemed very intelligent and definitely had been to college, I got the impression he was a professional at some point and hated his job so he became a river bum. Sounds like a good career choice to me!

When we arrived at the put in we unloaded our gear onto the river's edge and got out our map. Dirk drew some points on interest and campsites on the map for us. He made some suggestions about where to hike and then gave us the most important information we would be receiving from him. He introduced us to the porto-pooper. Dirk showed us how to operated our toilet and showed us where our poop was to go; quite an exciting introduction into the world of desert sanitation. After our toilet training was completed we loaded up the canoes (the pooper went in mine and Jason's canoe, what's up with that?) and went to investigate the geyser that was right at the put in.

This geyser was a man-made chemical geyser. It apparently was a test well drilled in about 1900 (according to the markings on the pipe). About 2 minutes after we went over to the geyser it started erupting, and I of course had left my camera sitting in the canoe. After watching the geyser erupt I went over to the canoe got my camera and took a few pictures while Jason, Dad and Kaiti investigated the geyser and its ponds.

We loaded up the boats, did a final gear check and headed down river. Dad and Kaiti loaded into his canoe and Stumpy and I jumped into the rented metal one. We headed down river and Jason and I got ahead of Dad and Kaitie quite quickly, Kaiti had never been in a canoe before so Dad was giving her some instruction and getting her used to the whole paddling concept. Jason and I however were an experienced canoe team and paddled right on down the river at a very nice clip.

About 1 mile down the river we ran into some pretty decent class II ripples. Dad spotted the ripples right away and immediately put his life jacket on, it was kind of funny to see him get his vest on so quickly. We ran the rapids and began the paddle down the river. We were pretty unimpressed by the scenery the first 5 miles that we paddled before lunch. It was kind of boring scenery, slightly rolling hills and a little bit of color but nothing spectacular. We lunched on a sandbar in the middle of the river. It was fun to put our toes into the sand. The desert river sandbars were the finest, smoothest, nicest sand I had ever set foot on. It was fun to run around the sand bar barefoot and enjoy the warm sun in March!

We got back on the river and continued our journey down the mighty Green. About an hour after lunch we paddled past a nice cliff with a ton of cliff swallow nests. We paddled on and stopped to investigate a neat side canyon and a spring that was bubbling up right in the middle of the river. It was pretty cool!

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