Stillwater Canyon

gnwatts

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A few days before our put in at Mineral Bottom for a trip through Stillwater Canyon, I was talking to a friend of mine about the trip, he asked if I had seen the the flow on the Green further upstream? No I said. Sure enough, while I had been watching the flow at Mineral Bottom, which had been at 4K cfs, the Green in Wyoming snuck up to 16K while I wasn't looking. Well, this was not going to be the paddle that I had hoped for. It meant that we had to spend less time on the river, do some hikes and hang out on a rock.
This trip was a follow up with a friend from Telluride, after our trip in November down Meander Canyon, that was sort of a challenge:


So, the Green was projected to be at 15K cfs on our put in day. The biggest water I had been on was 10K in 2017 on this stretch, so I figured I had some experience that would be beneficial, but I quickly realized that the extra 5K is a lot different. I guess that goes without saying but I just had to say it. Plus, I am really not that good of a boatman. I prefer a leisurely paddle with sun, beer and having lunch on a sandbar. I knew that landing the boat with this much water would be problematic for me. We knew the mud was going to be pretty bad, so we were prepared, sort of.

We decided that we would take advantage of the high water and make our camps not on the River, but up side canyons. That was the plan, as it eliminated the landing on the River, and we could get out and spend time hiking and exploring. I have not done a lot of canyon hiking here, mainly because I usually have a difficult time getting through the muck to access the side canyon, and I tend to prefer not doing that, if I can avoid it. So paddling up the side canyon sounded appealing to us.

On put in day, we were dropped off at Mineral Bottom, with two other parties of 4, and one solo canoeist with a beautiful hand made boat and his beautiful 14 year old white lab, laying in the bow with his head resting on the gunnel. I asked him how he was able to do this trip with his dog, he said that he is a service dog and Tex's allowed it. Nice.

It was windy, consistently 25 mph with 50 mph gusts, well into the evening. Even a windy day is a good day on a river. But 50 mph is like getting hit with a train, as many of you know, you can see it coming at you but all you want to do is get oriented right (and wish you were closer to shore) and hold on!. Another concern, was all of the boiling going on, seemingly everywhere. Getting hit with a headwind when a large one erupts under your boat is exhilarating, and problematic. Luckily it happened only a couple of times, so I was diligent in avoiding these disturbances.

We had made about 6 miles when we arrived at Horsethief Canyon, We paddled up the creek about 300' and found a great camp spot:

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An added bonus, a little rock art:

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Que Jaws theme music:

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Scary:

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View showing our home for the night and the Green beyond:

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I was really looking forward to some canyon walking, so after the wind died down we headed up Horsethief a few miles. Big canyon, and quite beautifu:


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We did not break camp until about noon, such a nice spot. The wind started to pick up, but it did not really bother us.
I don't have any shots on our paddle this day. Not on purpose, it was just too beautiful to try to photograph. A camera can be a big distraction.

We arrived at Beaver Bottom, someone with a sense of humor named it that.
The camp spots were getting better and better, if that was possible.


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I really liked this place, located in a wide section of the Canyon with easy access to the surrounding terrain. The White Rim Trail is over to the right:

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Sadly the last trip for my trusted Bibler I-Tent, it has been a good friend, bomber, never leaked, withstood anything that was thrown at it. But alas, the zippers no longer work.


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Back on the River, our third day on the water, headed for Deadhorse Canyon. This will leave us 20 miles on the last day to get to the Confluence.


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Deadhorse Canyon was another one we paddled up. This time we found another group at the end where the water ended. They were very nice, knew it was late in the day, and said we were welcome to camp. We found a spot a couple hundred yards up canyon in the sand under a big cottonwood.

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I would have loved to hike up this canyon but the wind picked up again, throwing sand around, so we hunkered down in our tents until it stopped, just like that. Typical.

So, the last leg, 20 miles to the Confluence.
Paddling out Deadhorse:

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The Confluence! A good respectable 20 mile day.
So far on the trip we have seen only the people we put in with, an entirely unique experience on this stretch of River. Usually it's dog eat dog, hand to hand combat to get a camp spot. Not this trip.

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We cxamped at a fairly small campsite about a mile below the Confluence. A great spot with perfect access for Tex's jet boat, which I am always careful about. It's not good form to make the guys from Tex's waste time because people don't think about access for the jet boat, or to clean their boat and gear. Sorry for the rant.
There were two other parties here when we pulled up, and we were welcomed. It was fun hanging out with complete strangers in this place. A great way to end this trip. Thanks for looking.


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can you explain "boiling"? I've only done one trip on the Green and not many trips on other rivers
 
Great trip and beautiful photos! The wind seemed relentless this spring, but it still sounded like you had a wonderful trip.
And you painted a picture of one day in the future : “I prefer a leisurely paddle with sun, beer and having lunch on a sandbar.” :cool: Now that sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing.
 
can you explain "boiling"? I've only done one trip on the Green and not many trips on other rivers
There are a few definitions out there, one is when fast water flows over a submerged boulder which forces the water up, this causes the water to look like it is boiling. There are other explanations, like fast water flowing by an eddy.
In my case, I was in the middle of the river during a head wind and the boil came up below the center of the boat. When the water boils it spins like water like it is going down a drain, and when it did so under the center of the boat it spun my boat, during a headwind. Normally a boil is just a nuisance, but in this case, with a very strong headwind and a large boil it caused some excitement, The last picture shows a boil just off shore.

Great trip and beautiful photos! The wind seemed relentless this spring, but it still sounded like you had a wonderful trip.
And you painted a picture of one day in the future : “I prefer a leisurely paddle with sun, beer and having lunch on a sandbar.” :cool: Now that sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks @Titans
 
Looks like a great trip.

I really like your 2nd B&W, how there is detail in the foreground rock and then silhouettes in differing shades in the background. That is a photo I'd print for a wall somewhere.
 
I love your trip report! Your timing is perfect for us, as we just learned about Tex's and this trip and are wondering if it's something we'd like to try sometime. But we've never done a multi-day paddle & camp trip, and we're not sure how much skill is necessary. If we were to attempt this, we'd go with friends who have a bit more experience than we do. But I don't have a sense of how one plans this sort of trip. I have no idea how many miles per day we're capable of paddling - is there a "typical" range? (I know the river flow affects this.) I would want to make sure we have time for hiking in some of the side canyons and wonder if it's hard to make time for that? Are there ever times when you can't find somewhere to camp? (I know site availability is dependent on the water level.) What do you do if there are storms mid-trip and you have to wait but then you get way behind in your plan to meet up with Tex's at the end? etc. etc. etc. I'd love to learn more about how one does this!

By the way, I love seeing the bright green in your photos. We were in that region a couple weeks ago and the trees hadn't leafed out yet. Were any cacti blooming? It was driving me crazy seeing sooooo many cacti plants and wishing I could see them in bloom.
 
Thanks @Janice. You really don't need any skills or experience, our first trip I had never been in a canoe. Tex's just dropped us off at Potash. Different times then.

Buy your own cooler and use ice packs, with a little ice. Renting a cooler from Tex's is not the way to go. I personally can't stand the toilet they rent. it's big and quite unpleasant by the end of the trip. You may want to consider Wag bags with an ammo can to store them in.
I suggest you arrive early to Tex's on put in day, maybe call them the day before and talk to them about questions you may have. They are your best resource for sure.
I have made over 30 miles in a day, or just 5. You never know.

Going down the Green you are required to get to the Confluence on pick up day. If you went down Stillwater and did not make it to the Confluence, that would be a pretty big problem, for you and Tex. You want to avoid that.
If you go down Meander you do not have to make it to the Confluence, as the jet boat can pick you up anywhere between Potash and the Confluence. Much better for your first trip I think. Take 5 days and take your time.The perfect time for us has always been right after Labor Day after the kids go back to school, mid September. Warm temps, and no bugs. Typically the flow rates are lower, you have sand bars, and our experience has been that Meander is less crowded than the Green, at least in the lower 35 miles of the Canyon.
 
Great info and suggestions - thank you so much! We're hoping to get a Grand Canyon permit for this October, but if that doesn't work out maybe we'll do this instead. Or next year!
 
Your post said never done a multi day paddle and camping? And you put in for the grand? Sounds like problems ....... Any clarify?
 
To clarify: We're hoping to get a HIKING (backcountry camping) permit for Grand Canyon for this October!!!
 
To clarify: We're hoping to get a HIKING (backcountry camping) permit for Grand Canyon for this October!!!
Ahhhhh. sounded like you put in for a float permit.
 
Looks like a great trip.

I really like your 2nd B&W, how there is detail in the foreground rock and then silhouettes in differing shades in the background. That is a photo I'd print for a wall somewhere.
Thanks @wsp_scott I appreciate that.
 
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