Stillwater Canyon 4-1-24

gnwatts

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I had been monitoring the weather for a few days.
About a week before my put in the forecast started showing high winds in Moab, out of the south of course. Three days before my trip. the forecast was a solid 20 MPH, 35 MPH gusts possible. For four days, every full paddle day of my trip.

I did something I have never done: I called Tex’s 2 days before put in and told them, metaphorically, that I could not have a reasonable chance of having a great time with the wind blowing like that.
No problem, Kenny said. I rescheduled it for the following Monday, picking up on Friday. Being one person with my own canoe helps out when you change the date at the last minute.


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I have not had a solo trip in my canoe so I figured it was the right time, as I have not had a solo trip in 6 years. Coincidentally my last solo trip was through Stillwater.

In Tex's parking lot early Monday morning, making sure it all fit.

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So it turns out I am one of three parties going to Mineral Bottom this fine morning. A family of four with two disinterested teenagers, their first trip ever in a boat. I never saw them again on the trip. The other group is the complete opposite, four extended family members, aged 30 – 60 I would guess. The leader of their tribe is Mary, and she has a plan, which is good because they have to get to the confluence in 4 days (3 ½ paddling days). She asked me if she could ask a few questions. I answered her questions and I continued packing my boat. They would be the only other people I saw until take out day.

The only shot I took that afternoon, during a break:

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My 1st camp spot river right at Lower Tent Bottom, a high water site @ MM 39. Not in the main camp site, but on a small sandy bench. Just big enough:

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For my 2nd camp spot I settled on Lower Cabin Bottom, a high water camp river right at MM 25.
I wanted to visit Newspaper Rock, which is a bout a mile down river. An different landscape here, wide open vistas.

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View from Newspaper Rock back towards my camp:


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Back on the river again after a beautiful morning, relaxed until about 10. Another glassy day.

Sliding by Turks Head:


So I was passed this morning by Nancy and her friends. Remember them? I had passed them on the 1st day when they were eating lunch. She yelled over that they had capsized. How is this possible? It happened at the Riffle, which I had to look up on the map, maybe class 1.2, I don't remember it. They lost a cooler and a life jacket. I wished them luck.

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My 3rd Camp site was at Jasper Canyon, another high water camp at MM 9.5. The camp is situated at a beautiful bend in the river.


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Last full day on the River. I had a strategic decision to make: Do I stop at Powell Camp today, at MM 1, then pack up and leave first thing the next morning and find a good jet boat pick up spot on the Colorado? Or do I continue past the Confluence today and camp somewhere before Spanish Bottom? I decided to stop at Powell Camp. I did not look forward to another high water camp, which Powell is, but it is an incredible place to camp. I was there in 2017, the last time I soloed Stillwater. But the River is much different than 2017. Then it was about 10k, today around 3k. It was a difficult landing for me back then, so I was a little nervous as I did not know what I would find. The one thing that I don't like about my boat is it's initial stability, so occasionally I have a sketchy exit from the boat, which is always in the back of my mind.

This shot is from 2017, looking down canyon at the camp site. The only place to camp is up above, and I had my kitchen on the rock shelf.
This time the water was about 6' lower, so as I approached the ledge I could not find a place to land, but straight ahead just beyond the "point" was a beautiful sandy beach.

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This was a perfect spot. The wind picked up around 5 and blew pretty hard, but I was sitting up against the hill, essentially out of the wind.

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I couldn't help it.

.........ten thousand strangely carved forms; rocks everywhere, and no vegetation, no soil, no sand. In long, gentle curves the river winds about these rocks… rapid running brings us to the junction of the Grand and Green, the foot of Stillwater Canyon, as we have named it. These streams unite in solemn depths, more than 1,200 feet below the general surface of the country.

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This was another rewarding trip. My body functioned within specified parameters for most of the trip. I did not injure myself in any way. I did not step in any cactus. I essentially did not speak for 5 days, except when I saw Mary's group. I camped in 3 new spots, and revisited an old camp site and found it much better. I put the world away for a few days, which was my main goal.


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Thanks for your report. We'll be there in late Sept - early Oct. I'm excited!
 
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