Day 3 Cabin Bottom (Tower Park) to Jasper Canyon, 15.5 miles, 6 hours 40 minutes.
Even after the late night I was out of the tent and snapping photos by 7:25 am. The morning sun was glorious as it reflected off the red cliffs.
Overnight while I was taking pictures of the night sky I thought I could smell propane. Our neighbours discovered that they had not turned the stove off correctly and consequently all their propane had leaked out. Luckily they were experienced and brought their backpacking stove and fuel as back up. We had our breakfast and coffee and then set off to explore the area with the goal of seeing the petroglyphs at the far end of the bottom. According to the guidebook petroglyphs are always found on trails and near good camping areas used by the Anasazi. We headed off on our morning adventure at 8:30 am.
It was a 2 km walk to the petroglyphs. There were many trails initially through the grassy area. As we got closer to our destination the trails all funneled into one trail and it was quite easy to find our way. We arrived at the art panels at 9 am. It was well worth the walk.
We were back at camp by 9:40 am. Efficient packing had on the river at 10 am. It was approximately a 4 mile trip to the far side of Turks Head Bottom where we going to attempt to access the bottom. While it was getting warm when we were on our little hike it is always a few degrees cooler on the river so we were both bundled up once back in the canoe.
I thought I saw a landing spot as we rounded the bend to the north-west of Turks Head. We we able to land and tie up the canoe. We spent several minutes battling the tamarisks before heading back to the canoe to look for a better landing spot. The guidebook did clearly state that the best landing sites were where the cliffs came right down to the river at the south end of Turks Head Bottom.
Once back on the river it took us another 30 minutes to find a good landing spot, right where the guidebook said to go. We were on land and walking just after 11:30 am. There was good trail through the brush. Once we emerged from the brush into the open fields I was a little worried about finding our way back to the canoe. I hung one of our bright orange life jackets in a tree to identify where the trail back to the canoe was.
We spent almost 90 minutes exploring Turks Head Bottom. It was 1 pm when we were back on the river. We only paddled about 1 mile before pulling in at a natural dock to have lunch. We had a lovely tamarisk free view of the river.
The rock of our little lunch spot divide Turks Head Bottom from Arla Bottom named for the wife of a rancher. Arla Bottom is the last named green space beside the river as they become smaller and less frequent. There is a panel of petroglyphs a short hike up Deadhorse Canyon but we decided that we would stay on the river as we still had 12 miles to go before our planned camp at Jasper Canyon. It was 1:45 pm and we had only actually traveled about 4 miles on the river.
If I remember correctly arriving at Jasper Canyon was a bit hectic. The group we had camped beside the previous night where already at Jasper Canyon and had taken the obvious place to dock. Being on the outside of the river the water was flowing quite fast and we had to work hard to get the canoe onto the shore and we may have bumped the other canoes a little. Needless to say with a little help we go the canoe stopped and secured. Once on land there were many choices for camping at Jasper Canyon so we picked a place that would provide some privacy for both ourselves and the other group. In fact I do not remember seeing them for the rest of the evening and they left quite early the next morning. It was about 3:45 pm when we made landfall. We had traveled another 15.5 miles down the river and had some fun little hikes along the way. Only 13 miles left for tomorrow to Spanish Bottom.
We had a fairly late dinner eating at 6:45 pm. With the higher and narrower canyon darkness came quicker on this night. Unlike the past two evenings we did not do any exploring after dinner. We would save the exploring for the morning. We went to bed a little earlier than on previous nights. Just after 9 pm I got out of the tent and took some nighttime shots of the sky and had Laura light up the tent with a headlamp. The effects worked out pretty good.