In John Wesley Powell’s Wake: Labyrinth & Stillwater Canyons (June 2019)

Day 19: Past the Crystal Geyser

The pleasures of Green River were delightful, but we had a river to run, so first thing in the morning it was back to the boats. Our first stop below Green River was at Crystal Geyser where a failed 1930s attempt at an oil well resulted in an on-going eruption of mineral and carbon dioxide rich water. After an day on flat water, we pulled into a campsite at Anvil Bottom. The site itself was good but we had to cut a path through the tamarisk (an invasive shrub) to reach it. We were camped below a feature known locally as The Anvil (or Inkwell). Despite these existing local appellations, Powell went ahead and named it Dellenbaugh’s Butte in 1871.

Lars announces our departure from Green River
On the river below Green River
The mineral bench laid down by the geyser
The geyser itself – it no longer spurts as high as it did in the 1940s
Geyser mineral deposits
Still rowing south
Camp at Anvil Bottom
Self-portrait at the Inkwell

Day 20: In to the Labyrinth

From our camp at Anvil Bottom, we passed the mouth of the San Rafael River and formally entered Labyrinth Canyon at Trin-Alcove Bend. A planned hike in Three Canyon was cancelled when we found the high water had flooded the start of the trail. So we continued on to a partially shaded campsite at the mouth of “F” Canyon (a local name) and called it a day.

Saying good-bye to the Inkwell
In Labyrinth Canyon
In Labyrinth Canyon
In Labyrinth Canyon
View from camp at the mouth of “F” Canyon
Sunset at camp

Day 21: Hot at the Bowknot

On the river again, we passed the river register, a 70+ year-old inscription now defaced in places by vandals, and the Launch Marguerite inscription, left by the crew of a stern-wheeler river boat which traveled on the Green and Colorado Rivers between the towns of Green River and Moab during the early 1900’s. We found a shadeless campsite on the north side of Bowknot Bend which put us in place for a hike to the views and inscriptions on the bend’s saddle. By now we’d noticed that our interlude in Green River had marked a change in the weather – it was getting increasingly hot and the sun now seemed to press down on us like a hot iron. Bowknot Bend is where we all began to appreciate shade – a lot.

On the river again; I just can’t wait to get on the river again; The life I love is floating along with my friends; And I can’t wait to get on the river again
Towering sandstone cliffs
The river register
The Marguerite inscription
Hiking to the saddle at Bowknot Bend
From the hike up to the saddle (our camp is in the green on river right at bottom of photo)
The view south from the saddle
The view of the saddle from the inscriptions
Kolb Brothers, 1911
Georgie White, 1947
Sunset at Bowknot Bend Camp

Day 22: To Fort Bottom

Our goal for the day was a nice campsite (with trees!) that Lars knew about at Fort Bottom. We stopped for a short hike to see the inscription left by fur trapper Denis Julien in 1836. Sadly, contemporary douchebags felt the need to immortalize their stupidity by scratching 👿 their initials in this historic feature. Continuing on, we passed Mineral Bottom and entered Canyonlands National Park and Stillwater Canyon. We stopped at Fort Bottom for a hike up to the stone “fort” on the butte. Constructed roughly 1,000 years ago, Fort Bottom Ruin remains one of the more dramatic reminders of Ancestral Puebloan culture along the Green River. After a swing by the old (c1880s) log cabin at the base of the butte, we made the short float over to our campsite across from Fort Bottom. The shade under the cottonwoods there was most welcome.

Leaving Bowknot Bend
Passing Horseshoe Canyon, one of the Green’s abandoned meanders
Hiking to see the Denis Julien inscription
The Julien inscription (with vandal damage)
Continuing on downriver
Hiking to the ruins at Fort Bottom
The Fort
View from the Fort
The old cabin
View of the fort from one of the cabin’s windows
Sunset from our Fort Bottom camp

Day 23: A Return to Anderson Bottom

At Mineral Bottom, we had entered a section of the Green that The LovedOne, Wayne, Diane, and I had floated during a private trip back in 1992. Our recollections varied but one thing that seemed to stand out was how much the riverside vegetation (namely invasive tamarisk and Russian olive) had expanded in 27 years. When we’d camped at Anderson Bottom back then, we’d just walked ashore. Today we had to hack our way through tamarisk to reach a shaded camp. Once camp was set, we did a short, hot hike to view some petroglyphs on a rock outcropping (actually the remains of a meander) in the bottom.

Sunrise at Fort Bottom
Morning at Fort Bottom: “I love camping soooo much…”
Floating past The Butte of the Cross
A butte with clouds
Petroglyphs at Anderson Bottom

Day 24: Stillwater Canyon

In the morning, David and I wandered across the bottom to visit a storage cave that the National Park Service had blasted (ah, those were the days) in the cliff to store gear for the Friendship Cruises. These are (when river levels permit) a several-day trip in which motorized boats descend the Green River from Green River, Utah, to the confluence with the Colorado, and then ascend the Colorado to Moab, Utah. We’d visited the cave in 1992 when it still had stuff in it but it’s no longer in use. Then we motored on down the river, seeing a cliff dwelling at Valentine Bottom and stopping to see a ruin at Jasper Canyon. We finally made camp at a nearly shadeless bend at river mile 7 in anticipation of reaching the Green’s confluence with the Colorado River the next day.

The old Friendship Cruise storage cave at Anderson Bottom
Cliff dwelling (arrow) across from Valentine Bottom
Motoring through Stillwater Canyon
The ruins in Jasper Canyon
On the way to camp
We were real glad to see the sun set on our nearly shadeless camp
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