Ending the Paddling Trip - Page 1 of 1

[Beach on the Colorado River.]   [The jetboat arrives.]
After beaching the boats on the Colorado River, we disassembled the raft and cleaned up some of the gear.   The jetboat arrives after picking up others downstream.

As we paddled the last bit of the Green River, we heard the jetboat coming down the Colorado River, but it sounded like it stopped upstream from the confluence. We paddled on to the Colorado River and started looking for a landing to beach the boats. We had arranged for a pick-up someplace below the confluence, but there was no specific pick-up location. Various locations may be usable or unusable, depending on river levels. We needed a sandy beach without rocks so the jetboat could get close to shore. Just downriver from the confluence, there was a large shallow area on the right-hand side that required us to keep to the extreme left. After about a half-mile, we found a small sandy beach on the left-hand side that would make a good landing. We had to skirt some rocks at the last minute, but we were able to beach the raft on the first try.

Due to limited space on the jetboat, we decided to disassemble the raft and my kayak, so we unpacked the boats and made a pile of gear near the water. The raft had developed a small hole in the bottom that allowed water and sand to come inside, although the hole didn't affect the tube inflation. While we were unpacking the boats and cleaning our gear, the jetboat arrived and nosed-in to the beach. Since we weren't quite ready to leave yet, the jetboat went farther down the river to pick up a group of people with canoes. When the jetboat returned, we loaded all our gear and the two wooden kayaks and hopped aboard.

[Boatload of river rats.]   [Our jetboat captain.]
A boatload of river rats heading back to Moab.   Our jetboat captain. His left hand is on the throttles and his right hand grips the steering lever.

[Jet nozzle on stern of boat.]  
This shows a jet nozzle on the stern of the boat; it's a twin-drive so there are two such nozzles. I took this picture once the boat was hauled out on to its trailer.  

The jetboat was a really neat boat – very powerful and maneuverable. It had twin 450 gas engines coupled to twin Hamilton jet drives. The jet drive works by shooting water out of a nozzle at high speed, which propels the boat forward (the same principle as a jet-ski watercraft). Since the boat doesn't have a conventional propeller, it can operate in very shallow water.

The captain went full-throttle up the Colorado River without ever slowing down. He steered the boat using a big handle that moved fore-and-aft to turn the jet nozzles. He was obviously very knowledgeable about the river's channel and frequently maneuvered the boat from side to side, or wide around turns, to stay in the deepest water.

The Colorado River was quite different than the Green River. The river was wider, and its canyons seemed to have much steeper sides. The terrain was more variable, with some areas having only very low hills with no canyons at all. Although the river goes all the way to Moab, we had to take-out early because the river gets too shallow even for the jetboat. We used a big concrete ramp at about mile 47.3 (Colorado River mileage) that was near a big potash mine. The captain nosed-in to the sandy shore to allow everyone to get off (we could leave our gear aboard), then he hauled the jetboat out of the river using a big trailer towed by a smallish school bus. The bus turned out to be very underpowered for such a heavy load, and had to use lower gear to go up even small hills. Luckily, there were no steep, scary hills like the drive to Mineral Bottom at the beginning of the trip. The drive back to Moab was relatively short; along the way we passed many roadside campsites along the river (they were quite dusty and rather seedy-looking).

[Peter tending the jetboat.]   [Hauling out the jetboat.]
When we reached the haul-out ramp near the potash mine, the captain nosed the boat into the sandy shore and went to retrieve the school bus and trailer. He needed a volunteer to tend to the boat, and Peter volunteered. The captain left the jet drive running slowly to keep the boat from drifting away. Peter had to keep the steering handle centered to keep the boat pointed towards shore. Well done, Peter!   Here you see the captain securing the boat to the trailer at the haul-out ramp. That's quite a lot of boat for the school bus to tow.

When we got back to Tag-A-Long in Moab, we unloaded our gear from the jetboat and divvied-up the gear between our two vehicles. We had wanted to stay in Moab for another night, but a very popular marathon was about to take place and every room in town was booked-up. Instead, we drove south on US-191 and spent the night in Monticello, Utah (where we finally got to take a shower, after six days on the river!). The next morning, we said our goodbyes to Ben and Peter who headed off to Kansas. Meanwhile, John and I still had some adventure left in us. John had planned an interesting road trip back to California so we could visit several notable sites in the desert southwest.

As an aside, although we allocated six days to paddle 52 miles, our rate of travel was rather slow. As a result, we didn't have that much extra time to hike or explore when we stopped. In retrospect, it would have been nice to have another day or two on the river. Also, Moab would make an excellent "base" from which to explore the surrounding natural splendors. In case you're interested, here's a day-by-day summary of my overall trip:






Fly from Maryland to California, stay at John's house in Santa Clara, CA.



Work on boats, prepare for trip.



Test boats, pack for trip.



Load car, start road trip, stay overnight in Reno, NV.



Continue road trip, side-trip to Pyramid Lake, stay overnight in Ely, NV.



Continue road trip, side-trip to Great Basin National Park, stay overnight in Green River, UT.



Continue road trip, visit Powell Museum, drive to Moab, UT, meet Ben and Peter, buy provisions, stay overnight in Moab, UT.



Start Green River paddling trip, spend night on river.



Continue Green River paddling trip, spend night on river.



Continue Green River paddling trip, spend night on river.



Continue Green River paddling trip, spend night on river.



Continue Green River paddling trip, spend night on river.



End Green River paddling trip, resume road trip, stay overnight in Monticello, UT.



Continue road trip, visit Mesa Verde, stay overnight in Cortez, CO.



Continue road trip, visit Four Corners, Monument Valley, Lee's Ferry, stay overnight in Page, AZ.



Continue road trip, paddle Lake Powell, visit Glen Canyon Dam, Antelope Canyon, stay overnight in Flagstaff, AZ.



Continue road trip, stay overnight in Bakersfield, CA.



End road trip, back at John's house in Santa Clara, CA.



Unpack and clean gear.



Drive to Monterey, CA, paddle Elkhorn Slough (day trip).



Pack up gear to UPS back to MD, work on boats.



Fly back to Maryland.

Total days (all-inclusive) = 22 days.

Total cost (including airfare, shipping, my share of split expenses) = $1,846, which works out to $84 per day.

Road trip mileage (including side trips): California to Moab = 993 miles, Moab to California = 1,363 miles.

That's the end of the paddling trip, but the adventure continues on the next page as we visit several notable sites in the desert southwest.

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