Paddling Through the Desert - Page 1 of 5

[Island sandbar campsite.]   [Trees along the river.]
This is what our island sandbar camp looked like; we were cleaning up camp the next morning before departing.   Trees along the river, day 2.

Day 2, Monday, March 15, 1999

When we talked to people at Tag-A-Long, they told us about the river levels. They said the Green River was slightly high and the Colorado River slightly low, compared to normal for this time of year. We were paddling the river before the bulk of spring runoff reached the river, so both rivers were quite low compared to peak flow in late spring. At that time, some of the sandbanks we used for stopovers might be underwater, so peak flow results in fewer campsites. Peak flow also results in a faster current. Late in summer, the river gets even lower than what we encountered, uncovering many new sandbars and mudbanks. The main channel is always passable, although there can be some riffles where now there are none.

We stopped for lunch on a large sand beach on a large island near a cabin and the ruins of an old fort (about mile 41.25). It was a very nice stop, with easy access and easy landing. We took the left-hand channel when we approached the island.

[Lunch stop on a sandy island.]   [Trees along the river.]
This is our lunch stop for day two, on a sandy island in the river at about mile 41.25. We're all enjoying a meal of celery with peanut butter, dry honey nut cheerios, and beer.   More trees along the river at about mile 40.8.

We made our camp at about mile 36.4, on the right-hand side ("Desert Camp"). There was a small inlet at the end of a long mudbank that allowed us to pull the boats into still water between the mudbank and shore and beach the boats on the mudbank. The adjacent shoreline was raised up above the river floodplain, and was covered with fine red dust instead of river sediment. We set up camp in the dust, which tended to get into everything. Otherwise, the site was very nice.

We took advantage of a low rocky cliff next to the river to set up our kitchen out of the dust. Instead of a kitchen table, we used a small plastic tarp on the ground to keep things out of the dirt. We had a propane barbecue that used disposable gas bottles plus two small gasoline stoves. (Ideally, it would be nice to run everything off propane and carry a 10-lb propane tank instead of disposable bottles.) For dishwashing, we had three plastic tubs. The first had hot water for washing; we heated river water by keeping the stove running after we cooked dinner. Hot water might seem to be a luxury, but it's so much easier to get the dishes clean using hot water. The second tub was for the first rinse and contained cold river water with a few drops of chlorine for "purification". The third tub was for the second rinse and had the same kind of water as the second tub. We stacked the dishes on a folding wooden dish rack. We got water from the river using a collapsible canvas bucket with a rope tied to the handle. I nominated Ben for sainthood because he volunteered to do the dishes EVERY DAY! No one else ever had to do dishes during the trip. That certainly qualifies for sainthood, if you ask me.

[Typical river scenery.]   [Desert campsite.]
A typical river scene on the second day of paddling.   Setting up camp on day two in the desert. The river is out of view beyond where the grassy area ends at right.

There are more pictures of "Desert Camp" on the next page.

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