Labyrinth Canyon II

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Udink

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Joined
Jan 17, 2012
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October 1-6, 2019

During the first week of October seven friends and I floated Labyrinth Canyon from Ruby Ranch to Mineral Bottom, which for most of us was our second trip through this stretch of the Green River. Our first trip was a near-disaster. On this trip we visited many of the spots we missed on the first trip, plus a few places that are worth visiting more than once. Unlike our last trip when the Green River increased in flow by over 6,000 CFS during the trip, this time it remained between 2,900 and 3,000 CFS the entire time.


Green River flow between 2,900 and 3,000 CFS for our trip



On Tuesday afternoon we all met at Ray's Tavern for lunch, then headed to Ruby Ranch and unloaded the canoes and gear. Everyone who drove hopped in our vehicles and met a friend, Scott, at the Floy exit on I-70, and he followed us to Mineral Bottom where we dropped our vehicles off. Scott then kindly drove everyone back to Ruby Ranch and then headed home while the rest of us set up camp. There were a lot of geese around Ruby Ranch and they kept me awake much of the night. I also heard some owls hooting during the night.


Parked at Ray's Tavern


Leaving our vehicles at Mineral Bottom



We were up before sunrise on Wednesday and got on the river by about 9AM. We floated a short while before reaching Red Wash. I thought the mouth of Red Wash looked like a good place to search for rock art or inscriptions, so Alan and I pulled the canoe up to the shore and I got out and started hiking. The rest of the group waited in the boats while I hiked up the canyon, and there I found some old looking but undated inscriptions by C.M. and R.M. I rejoined the group and we floated downstream to Placer Bottom where we checked out some mining equipment and petroglyphs.


Morning at Ruby Ranch


A little brekkie


Packing gear


Taking down camp


Almost ready to launch!


First morning on the Green River


C.M. and R.M. inscriptions in Red Wash


Part of the group waiting for me


Paul and Terri


Dirt biker across from Bull Bottom


Here the canyon walls get taller


Placer Bottom mining equipment


Placer Bottom mining equipment


Placer Bottom petroglyph


Placer Bottom petroglyphs


Placer Bottom mining equipment


Tailings piles at Placer Bottom



Our next stop was at Hell Hole where we spent quite a bit of time trying to locate a constructed stock trail. The group split up and several of us located the trail while the rest explored other areas. The constructed portion of the trail was maybe 300' long and had been blasted and chiseled through a weakness in the sandstone leading up onto the plateau east of Moonshine Wash.


Wade at Hell Hole


Lyman on the Hell Hole stock trail


Blasted and chiseled section of the Hell Hole Trail



After a brief stop at the mouth of Three Canyon we landed just across the river from June's Bottom and searched for an inscription that we skipped on our previous trip. It turned out to be a very deep and enigmatic carving by Mike Keller, who also left his name and more carvings at Register Rock downstream from there. Even a month later I still can't figure out what it is that Mike carved in the rock.


Wade and Lyman floating below Trin Alcove Bottom


Boats moored across from June's Bottom


Wade looking for inscriptions


David Miller inscription


M. Keller inscription and some strange carvings


What is this?


Nice shelter formed by a huge slab of rock



A couple more miles of floating brought us to our second camp of the trip at the mouth of F Canyon, so named because the canyon and its two forks form the shape of an F. We landed at about 5PM and turned in at 10PM. The inside of the rain fly on my tent got soaked during the night but this was the only night it had any moisture on it.


On the way to F Canyon


My camp at F Canyon


Crooked cottonwood tree and crescent moon


Crooked cottonwood at F Bottom


F Bottom before sunrise



On Thursday morning four of us set out to find a stock trail that climbs up onto Tenmile Point from near the mouth of F Canyon. It took some searching but we found the trail, which today I can't imagine even sheep traversing. It took a bit of work for us to even climb above the heavily constructed portion.


Hiking a stock trail from F Canyon up to Tenmile Point


Above the first cliff band


Constructed trail up to Tenmile Point


Climbing the trail


More signs of trail construction


Wade, me, and Alan on the trail



We rejoined the rest of the group and quickly loaded the canoes since we'd taken down camp before setting out on the hike. We hit the river and aimed toward Bull Hollow, where I'd read there was another stock trail. Bull Hollow held some unexpected surprises and turned out to be my favorite part of the trip. After an initial bushwhack to get into the canyon, it opened up and there were some alcoves on the on the south side that looked like they should hold some signs of either prehistoric or historic habitation, but we didn't see squat. We found a couple of constructed sections of trail in the bottom of the canyon that only bypassed some dryfalls, but nothing that climbed out of the canyon. There was poison ivy all along the canyon, but I forged ahead (wearing long pants) and never had any problems with it. Wade and I hiked about a mile up the canyon before turning back and rejoining the rest of the group.


Loading boats at F Canyon


Floating toward Bull Hollow


Some shwhackin' into Bull Hollow


Shallow alcove in Bull Hollow


Poison ivy


First short stretch of constructed trail in Bull Hollow


Hiking up Bull Hollow


Bull Hollow


Second stretch of constructed trail in Bull Hollow



On my way back down the canyon I focused my attention on the north side near the mouth and spotted some faint Barrier Canyon Style pictographs. With the rock art in direct sunlight we rigged up a sun shade to make our photos turn out better. We also found some habitation structures, potsherds, painted metate fragments, and crude petroglyphs.


Bull Hollow pictographs


Rigging a sun shade to photograph some pictographs


Barrier Canyon Style pictograph in Bull Hollow


Bighorn sheep pictos in Bull Hollow


Crude potsherd


Portable pictograph


Black pigment on a metate


Broken metate


Metate with a circle of red pigment


Structure in Bull Hollow


Bull Hollow petroglyphs



Next up was the mouth of Tenmile Canyon. We'd hoped to find some inscriptions there but heavy brush and cockleburs really made it difficult to get close to the cliffs. We gave up and returned to the river, floating downstream for quite a while before finding a place to camp on a sand bar below Hey Joe Canyon. It wasn't an ideal camp spot because it wasn't very high above the water level. We discussed it a while before settling in, but since the mishap on our previous trip was due to not tying the canoes up, we decided we could mitigate some of the risk this time. We all turned in at about 10PM but I stayed awake in my tent for another two hours listening to music and reading the Canyon Country Zephyr on my phone.


Reflection above Tenmile Canyon


Blue heron


Mouth of tenmile canyon


Tenmile Bottom


Cockleburs in Tenmile Canyon


Back on the river


Camp below Hey Joe Canyon


Crescent moon



We were up before 7AM on Friday and paddled our way toward Bowknot Bend. The morning started out calmly but as we hiked up to Bowknot Saddle a fierce wind had risen. We ate lunch on the west end of the saddle, mostly sheltered from the wind.


Ready to launch


Green River reflection


Lyman and Wade


Entering Bowknot Bend


Bowknot Bend landing


Almost to Bowknot Saddle


South end of Bowknot Bend


Bowknot Saddle panorama


Edwin Thatcher Wolverton inscription from 1902


Norville Edwin Wolverton inscription from 1905


Kolb brothers inscription from 1911


UTV on the road to Hey Joe Canyon



After hiking back down to the boats, Paul and Terri set off before the rest of the group. Those of us in the remaining canoes were worried about being in the water with such strong winds, which were lapping waves over the gunwales of my canoe just sitting on the shore. We waited quite a while until another group of canoes floated past and didn't seem to be having any troubles, so we hit the water and held our three canoes together for a short while before determining that we'd be okay separately. We only paddled about 2.5 miles before finding Paul and Terri on a sand bar just across from the mouth of Spring Canyon. The wind was blowing upstream so hard that they couldn't make any headway downstream, so we decided to make camp early right there. We ate some good food, including Green River cantaloupe and some pepperoncini, and turned in early at 8:30PM.


Waiting out the wind at Bowknot Bend


Holding three canoes together


Camp across from Spring Canyon


Evening view up Spring Canyon


Camp across from Spring Canyon



We'd hoped to camp at the mouth of Horseshoe Canyon that night, so to make up for our lack of progress on the river we arose at 6AM on Saturday morning. The wind had calmed and we were on the river early, though it was quite cold. We stopped at the upper end of Oak Bottom to see the Pathe-Bray Expedition "Lucky 13" inscription and it felt great to walk around a bit to warm up. We landed at the mouth of Horseshoe at about noon and shuttled some gear a few hundred feet up the canyon to claim our campsites.


Reflection on the Green River around Bowknot Bend


Heart Rock


Still water around Bowknot Bend


Lucky 13 inscription from the Pathe-Bray Expedition


Approaching Twomile Canyon


J.A. Ross 1904 and H.T. Yokey 1894 inscriptions below Oak Bottom


Passing the mouth of Twomile Canyon


Colonnade Arch



We soon set out for what I'd hoped would be the best part of the trip, a hike around the Frog, an abandoned meander of the Green River at the mouth of Horseshoe Canyon. For a couple of years I've been searching for a rumored Barrier Canyon Style pictograph panel inside an alcove near the mouth of Horseshoe Canyon, but we didn't find it on this trip. We did, however, find inscriptions from 1898 and 1901. We spooked some deer out of their shady hiding spot among the boulders in the Frog. Mark and I explored a side canyon that ended near an alcove that I hoped was hiding the BCS rock art, but it was a bust.


Hiking at the mouth of Horseshoe Canyon


Fence at the mouth of the Frog


Val and Terri at the mouth of the Frog


Mark and Wade checking out a huge boulder in the Frog


1898 inscription


Deer that I spooked from its shady hiding spot


Large boulder shelter


Fred St. 1901 inscription made with some sort of six-sided chisel or drill bit


Deer in the Frog


Crude stone tool


Small side canyon in the Frog


Seep and pool


A promising alcove


Alcove devoid of any signs of habitation



Next Wade, Mark, and I hiked up the Frog Trail while the rest of the group made their way back to camp. I had hiked down the upper end of the Frog Trail four years earlier, and this time I was able to almost join up where I'd left off then. The constructed sections were barely visible and I'd imagine much of the trail has washed out since it was abandoned in the 1940s. We reached the top of the trail and searched for an overhang that was supposed to shelter some old dynamite. It took several minutes of looking but Wade eventually found it and called Mark and me back. There it was, an old box of dynamite that I'd only seen photos of in a Mike Kelsey guidebook! It still amazes me the lengths to which old cowboys went to in order to graze and water their livestock.


Bottom of the Frog Trail


Construction along the Frog Trail


Upper end of the Frog Trail


Last stretch of constructed portion of the Frog Trail


Top of the Frog Trail


Dynamite and drilling tools


Dynamite fuse


Dynamite


Hercules Powder High Explosives Dangerous


Construction along the Frog Trail



The three of us hiked back down the Frog Trail and continued the loop back to Horseshoe Canyon. We picked up the footprints of the others and had to pass up a nice looking alcove due to the late hour. I wasn't expecting so much bushwhacking to get back into Horseshoe Canyon, and we ended up hiking a faint trail above the west side of the canyon all the way back to camp, with a somewhat sketchy downclimb just before entering camp.


A nice alcove that we didn't have time to explore


Succulent


Half-moon


Leaving the Frog and entering Horseshoe Canyon


Trail above Horseshoe Canyon


Blurry descent into Horseshoe Canyon



We didn't have a camp fire that evening because of all the dry weeds and brush in the area, but we did gather around a lantern for a while to bullshit and talk about what the two groups had seen while we were separated. I skipped dinner that night and instead ate my Hawaiian chicken the next morning. Before getting back on the river Sunday morning a few of us visited the excellent rock art at the mouth of the canyon.


Lantern in lieu of a camp fire


Horseshoe camp before sunrise


A big breakfast since I skipped dinner


Sunrise on the cliffs across from Horseshoe Canyon


Pictographs and 1892 inscription


Faint 1890 writing in pencil (D-Stretch enhanced)


Petroglyphs in Horseshoe Canyon


Deer petroglyph



We were up before 7AM on Sunday and our only stop was at the mouth of Hell Roaring Canyon to visit the Denis Julien inscription. We took our only group photo of the trip there, then got back on the river toward Mineral Bottom. We landed at Mineral at 12:30PM and loaded our gear and boats onto the waiting vehicles, then made another lunch stop at Ray's Tavern in Green River before parting ways. Hopefully we can get this group together again each year for more river trips!


Denis Julien 1836 inscription


Wolverton and Baker inscriptions from 1905


Bub Wood and Cole Allred inscriptions from 1921


U.S. Reclamation Service inscription from 1914 (that some asshole tried to obliterate)


Group photo in Hell Roaring Canyon (photo by Alan)


Preparing for the last float of the trip


Approach to Mineral Bottom



Photo Gallery: Labyrinth Canyon II
 

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Wanderlust073

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Looks super fun, thanks for posting!
 

Titans

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Incredible cool, thanks for sharing. Fun to see all the photos from Green River, since we recently looked down from the top to some of those spots on the river. Great inscriptions. Did you have to both climb up and come down that “stock trail” to Tenmile point? That’s crazy steep. And it’s not every day you find a box of dynamite, wow!

It’s cork dry everywhere, we haven’t had a campfire either. By the way we just today and yesterday saw a ton of wildfire smoke looking from Capitol reef towards Loa. Boulder mountain was covered in wildfire smoke this afternoon, the wildfire smoke seems to be drifting towards Boulder, Escalante. Trying to find out what’s going on.
edit- looks like maybe this prescribed burn:
 
Last edited:

Udink

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Incredible cool, thanks for sharing. Fun to see all the photos from Green River, since we recently looked down from the top to some of those spots on the river. Great inscriptions. Did you have to both climb up and come down that “stock trail” to Tenmile point? That’s crazy steep. And it’s not every day you find a box of dynamite, wow!

It’s cork dry everywhere, we haven’t had a campfire either. By the way we just today and yesterday saw a ton of wildfire smoke looking from Capitol reef towards Loa. Boulder mountain was covered in wildfire smoke this afternoon, the wildfire smoke seems to be drifting towards Boulder, Escalante. Trying to find out what’s going on.
edit- looks like maybe this prescribed burn:
Yep, we had to climb back down that same spot on the stock trail--it still puzzles me how anyone took (I'm assuming) sheep up and down that! It kind of reminded me of the climb up/down between the Maze Overlook and Horse Canyon, but it still wasn't as bad as it looked. And yeah, the dynamite was exciting to see. Although Kelsey said there was a tobacco tin with 1940s funny papers inside, but it was empty when I was there. :(
 

Tim Valentine

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Great report. You explored lots of canyons I did not get to see. Reinforces my plan to get back there next year.

tv
 

gnwatts

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I need to spend more time on that section next year.
Great report.
 

Titans

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This afternoon I read the river TR from a few years ago, whoa! You must have had a gut feeling that something was wrong, as you put a stake at the waterline before going to bed? That was a scary incident, glad it turned out fairly well in the end. I had no idea that the flow rate in rivers can change so rapidly.
 

Udink

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This afternoon I read the river TR from a few years ago, whoa! You must have had a gut feeling that something was wrong, as you put a stake at the waterline before going to bed? That was a scary incident, glad it turned out fairly well in the end. I had no idea that the flow rate in rivers can change so rapidly.
Yeah, it was raining when we set up camp which is what made us a only a little bit worried about our choice of camp spots, but the storm that made the river rise happened way upstream near Price and took over 12 hours to reach us. One of Tex's employees told us later that we should choose camp spots that are 2 to 3 feet above current river level.
 

Miya

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Thanks for all the detailed pics! Felt like I was there.

I loved the Blue Heron, Cockleburs photo, and the Dynamite fuse is stunning!

Looked like a fun time around the lantern fire too. :)
 

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Stephanie B

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There it was, an old box of dynamite that I'd only seen photos of in a Mike Kelsey guidebook!
Just a couple days ago we were listening to a podcast about some hidden dynamite and the importance of rotating it to make sure it doesn't become unstable. I'm sure you guys were smart enough not to go poking it! :)

Dynamite
 

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