Day 3 The Loop to Spanish Bottom, 13 miles, 4 hrs 30 min.
I had coffee on at 7:50 am. With such a short day we were in no rush to get going and we all just sat back and ate a lazy breakfast watching the sunshine creep into the canyon.
Our final destination on this day would be where we would end our trip on the river at Spanish Bottom just above Cataract Rapids. We had but one stop planed for this day at Anasazi Bottom (unofficial name from the guide book) about 4.5 miles from our camp. There was suppose to be multiple Anasazi structures to see. Back on the water we first had to finish paddling the loop which was another 4 miles.
While it was not easy to access Anasazi Bottom it was well worth the effort. We spent just under an hour exploring the area.
The remnants of a small granary.
Amazingly preserved granary.
Micah investigating the inside of granary. Long pants and long sleeves have come back on as we are in the shade and it is much cooler than the sunshine we had back at our campsite.
To believe that this was built by someone 800 – 1000 years ago.
Fun erosion in the sandstone.
It’s a hole.
Siobhan taking a hard look at the soft sandstone surface.
Anasazi Bottom = Good times.
One last look.
The access to Anasazi Bottom from the river.
We had no more planned stops until we arrived at our final destination on the river at Spanish Bottom. We passed by two more large canyons, Salt Creek and Elephant Canyon. Both canyons allow for hiking opportunities but neither provide access to the rim or have any historical points of interest.
Coming up to Salt Creek.
Salt Creek. Salt Creek is a very twisted canyon unlike Elephant Canyon which is quite straight. About 25 minutes and 1.5 miles from Anasazi Bottom.
Elephant Canyon. Can see much further into the canyon as opposed to Salt Creek.
The tower of rock guarding the south side of Elephant Canyon.
After passing by Elephant Canyon the next point of interest was actually on the river, a feature known as The Slide. The Slide is simply a large rockfall that slid from the western cliff of the river with the debris of the slide causing a slight constriction in the river. Interesting in the guidebook the author lists possible camping spots but does specify only in times of low water. Unless it was getting dark I would avoid camping at The Slide and would stop at either Salt Creek or Elephant Canyon.
Approaching The Slide. Warm on the river. Micah has their jacket off. We did put our life jackets back on for our passage through the slide.
The relatively turbulent water of the slide.
Very long video of a short trip through The Slide.
After passing the slide it is a quick 1.5 miles, 25 minutes, to the confluence with the Green River. There are some hiking opportunities along the river but they all require a significant investment of time and there are no Anasazi ruins or art to see.
Coming up the the confluence. The large cliff in the centre has the Green River to the right and the Colorado River continues around to the left.
Moon is out.
Micah taking a long look up to the Green River.
The Green River.
The picture does not show it all, but the two rivers where completely different colours and it was fun to see the separation and how over the next mile or so the two rivers mixed together.
After passing the confluence it was just 35 minutes before we pulled ashore at Spanish Bottom the canoe portion of our trip finished. The last section did have some excitement as there was another ripple in the river that was not mentioned in the guidebook. We ploughed straight through without any issues but maybe we should have been more careful. When the river forms an upstream “v” it is indication of a submerged obstruction and you should avoid the apex of the “v”. A downstream “v” indicates unobstructed flow. We had an upstream “v” and we basically paddled through the apex. Sometimes you have to have a little luck on your side.
Maybe we should have paddled to the side. In the distance at the top of the cliffs the first spires of the Doll House appear.
Coming up to Spanish Bottom. The spires on the right are the Doll House. We would hike up to the Doll House to see the sunrise in the morning. The trail goes through the gully between the dark and the light rocks.
The spires of the Doll House are carved from Cedar Mesa Sandstone. Sand dunes that were formed around 270 million years ago. The rock immediately below is called Elephant Canyon Formation named after the canyon we had passed a few miles back.
Arrived at Spanish Bottom. Time to look for a landing spot.
The moon was out across the river.
Not sure what was going on between the time we landed and dinner as I do not have any photographs. I am sure we set up the tent and explored the area. Spanish Bottom is 120 acres in size making it the largest bottom on the river. The common geological explanation for Spanish Bottom is that underlying the area is a layer of salt left over from an ancient sea. The salt has moved away either by plastic flow or dissolved in ground water. This removal of the salt as a material allowed the rock above to collapse into the void left by the salt forming the dropped down surface we see as Spanish Bottom.
View across Spanish Bottom (Siobhan photo)
Our afternoon was not entirely peaceful as the Park Rangers we had seen the other day were working across the river with chainsaws removing tamarisks from the water’s edge.
View across the Colorado River. You can just make out the tents of the park rangers on the beach on the right hand side of the photo. (Siobhan photo)
Close up of the ranger camp across the river.
Our plan, my plan really, was to get up before 5 am and hike up a trail from Spanish Bottom to the Doll House to watch the sunrise. The hike rises about 1200 ft (375 m) over 1 miles (1.6 km). Neither of the kids were overly enthusiastic about the idea. We ate early in anticipation of going to bed early. Had the water on the stove to rehydrate our dinners at about 5:20 pm, guess there was no fresh food left. This was another big lesson for a river trip, you do not need to bring lightweight dried food. The canoes can carry so much gear if you are only going 3 – 7 days weight is not a problem so packing fresh food is the preferred option.
Our dinner, re-hydrated meals.
Spanish Bottom is just a stunning place to camp. Can see one of our 5 gallon jugs of water. The food is in its packets re-hydrating to the right of the blue cooler.
Where the park rangers are camping the sun has set. Really an awe inspiring and peaceful place.
View across Spanish Bottom. Not a lot of trees as there was a fire in the early 2000’s which burned most of the trees.
The river is so still.View of our campsite and Spanish Bottom. Dinner still re-hydrating beside the cooler.
There was one other group at Spanish Bottom. A couple of ladies had brought their own kayaks and had paddled down the Green River. They had camped right beside the river so we had to walk right past them as we unloaded our canoes. Their canoes were caked in mud from getting stuck a couple of times on the Green River in shallow water.
Even brought the plastic sporks to save on weight.
Hot chocolate and potato chips for desert.
Terry all set up with a prime view of the river.
Brought a frisbee with us. Good way to unwind.
Despite having to wake up early for our hike the next day the easier day on the river had us staying up a little later than planned. Darkness settled in around 8 pm and with it the stars came out. Living in cities we never really had the opportunity to see the stars in a truly dark environment. On our previous trip to Canyonlands NP we stayed up and watch as the Milky Way appeared overhead, one of Nature’s truly magnificent sights to behold. As it steadily grew darker I started playing with my camera taking photos in the low light. I also did my first attempts at astrophotography. I did not have a tripod or any idea of what I was doing as evident by the shaky photos with the stars appearing as streaks. Regardless of the outcome at the time it was fun to play around and you have to start the learning process at some point.
Not a sun star but a Moon Star, and it really is sunlight.