Day 2 Fort Bottom to Cabin Bottom (Tower Park), 16 miles, 7 hours.
I was up and out of the tent before 7:30 am. Overnight the clouds had blown away leaving us with nothing but a deep blue sky to greet us as we got out of the tent.
We did not rush to tear down camp. We had a bigger day planned on the river but we had lots of time to paddle and explore. We had the canoe all packed up just before 9 am.
Shortly after leaving camp we watched two birds circle their way up the cliffs riding the thermals. One appeared to be a hawk or raptor the other bird was different but they made no aggressive move towards each other. We spent a good few minutes just watching the birds rise up the cliff until they disappeared over top of the cliff.
After leaving the bend where our campsite was located at Fort Bottom we traveled a long straight stretch of the river that passed by Potato Bottom. The White Rim Road descends all the way down to the river at Potato Bottom. There are some designated car camping sites at Potato Bottom allowing those driving the road access to the river.
I love the story behind Queen Anne Bottom. The area was was named in the 1920’s. Many people were trying to make a living in the bottom of the river. So a women named Anne had a boat that she had named the Queen Anne and had set up her camp in what is now know as Queen Anne Bottom. Her plan was to run the boat up and down the river bringing supplies to the homesteaders. Apparently the boat was too large and was unable to run in times of low water and Anne gave up her homestead after just a couple of years.
We arrived at Anderson Bottom and had the canoe all secured at 11:30 am. We had traveled none stop since leaving our camp at Fort Bottom a distance of 10 miles in 2.5 hours.
There were several places of interest at Anderson Bottom. There are ruins of an old dance hall (we never found it), a cave used by the NPS for storage, a gated trail to the top and a fun little slot canyon. Including lunch we spent 2 hours exploring the area. Had we tried to hike to the rim or explore the slot canyon some more we easily could have spent another couple of hours at Anderson Bottom.
Alcove formation is enabled by water that is absorbed into and percolates through pores in sandstone in the rock above, in this case the White Rim Sandstone. Beneath and sometimes within the sandstone are layers of shale which are impermeable to water. Water flows along the top of the shale layers and dissolves the calcium carbonate that holds the sandstone together weakening the sandstone. The freeze thaw cycle in the winter can crack the sandstone which will then eventually fall away from the cliff. As a lower layer erodes, layers of rock above are no longer supported and gravity pulls the weakened sandstone off the cliff face forming the alcove.
We arrived at an unnamed canyon where there were suppose to be some amazing examples of Anasazi Cliff Dwellings at 2:55 pm. It had been about 1 hr 20 min since we left Anderson Bottom travailing a distance of just over 5 miles.
We spent almost 50 minutes looking at the cliff dwellings and exploring the small canyon. We were back in the canoe at 3:45 pm. It was less than half a mile to where we planned to camp known as Tower Park or Cabin Bottom. It would seem officially it is Tower Park named in the Powell Report back in 1869. The name comes from the towering cliffs and several miles of green “parkland” bordering the river. The guidebook calls it Cabin Bottom after a cabin that was built there and burned down in 1930’s. We found a great place to dock the boat near some cottonwood trees as described in the guidebook. It was 4 pm when we finished tying up the canoe. We had traveled 16 miles in 7 hours and spent several hours exploring along the way.
I made dinner, pasta and sausages. Laura was in the tent with an upset stomach. Which was good as she did not see what I did to the dinner. One of the changes I would make on my next canoe trip would be to bring my two burner car camping stove. I was using my backpacking stove which is great for heating water and warming up meals but not practical for cooking. Without thinking too hard I moved the veggies off to the side to prevent them from burning, this had the unintended consequence of unbalancing the stove and everything tipped over into the sand! I did attempt to get as much sand out of the dinner as I could. When serving up dinner I confessed to Laura what had happened and while there was some grit in our dinner it did not turn out that bad.
After dinner I went for a bit of a walk about. Laura came a little way but she was not really feeling that great. There were two couples camping just a short way from us. They were experienced canoeists and came with Tex’s Riverways but had their own canoes. They had camped just a little upstream of us the night before. One thing we noticed right away was that they had a table and chairs.
The second group we met where the large group camping above us last night. They were hard core river travelers. They had their own rocket box and had a backcountry margarita maker! This group was definitely on the river to relax and enjoy themselves. As I headed back they offered me a beer but I declined as I said I had to get back to Laura who was not feeling well, so they gave me two beers to take with me. These beers would be a highlight of the following day. Neither of the groups we met had done any exploring on the river. After leaving Fort Bottom both groups just paddled and floated all day until arriving at Cabin Bottom.
We went to bed about 9 pm. With the clear skies I decided to get up and try some night time photography. I was out of the the tent at 3:30 am and I was not disappointed. This would be the first time I able to captured multiple pictures of the Milky Way. I remember being quite frustrated because I could not quite see the Milky Way, it was quite bright out, but I new it was there. I ended up taking pictures in all directions before I just captured a corner of it that I saw in my viewer on the camera. I was then able to hone in on the Milky Way and was quite satisfied with the results. I was quite pleased when I went back to the tent at 4 am.