Canyonlands: Tales from Narrow Places

Paddling down the Green River

Posted in Utah by canyoneering on November 18, 2013

Eric and Susan working lasagna in the Dutch Oven.

Labyrinth Canyon (Green River)
45 miles
10/05/13 – 10/08/13


That indistinguishable reddish brown sand that fans out from my garden house is not only a reality of gear cleaned, but also serves as a reminder of another adventure in the books. This past time was no exception. Though this was a different kind of an adventure. It was not one of adrenaline, suffering and end of the day achey muscles. Though miles from any motorized vehicles and in wilderness as remote as it gets, this one involved multiple dutch ovens, coolers and even pirates.

Here’s how it broke down: 11 friends old and new, 4 aluminum canoes and a kayak, 3 nights and 4 days along 45- miles of stunning scenery through the  Green River’s Labyrinth Canyon. Government shutdowns couldn’t stop us from  tracing this route of Major John Wesley Powell.

The crisp air keeps us from getting to hot and the intense early Fall sun from being too cool as we paddle down the placid and in places shallow waters. A pair of deer take advantage and slowly cross from one bank 50- yards to the other. They are not swimming. Curve after curve, the sandstone walls becoming increasingly grander. We pass a homemade wooden raft, Huck Finn style. Their boatmen are dressed as pirates. They have water guns and are drinking rum. We stop fairly often. Mud is knee deep and abundant. Early we try to avoid it but it is futile. One most embrace it in this place.

In camp we pull out all the stops. Cooler after cooler, cold beer, rum and coke or whiskey if that is your thing. Steaks one night, Indian food and nan the next, and for a grand finale, Dutch Oven lasagna. Entertainment includes music, fires, stories, lots and lots of stories, a dance competition that never really went anywhere and a neon light show.

We follow mountain lion prints through the still wet sand up a meandering side canyon. Quick sand swallows Eric nearly to his waist.The sun gets lower in the sky and we turn around and head back to the river.

Back in our 18-foot aluminum vessels, Laura and I fall back a little. It is all quiet except for the faint sounds of tiny riffles of water hitting the boat and the dulled laughter of the rest of the party half a mile ahead. The scenery passes by ever so slowly. A sense of priorities or urgency couldn’t be further away. It is a nice feeling for a little.

– David

Tex’s Riverways out of Moab provided us with canoe rentals and transportation to and from the Green River. I would highly recommend them.