Day 4 Jasper Canyon to Spanish Bottom, 13 miles, 2 hours 15 minutes.
As per usual I was out of the tent about 7:30 am taking in the view and snapping photos. We had a short day today with no stops planned on our way to our final river destination at Spanish Bottom. The plan was to have a relaxing morning at Jasper Canyon which would include some exploring of the canyon and looking for some more Anasazi houses and granaries.
Just after 10 am we had the camp all torn down and ready to be loaded into the canoe. Before heading back out onto the river we we headed off to explore Jasper Canyon. Jasper Canyon is a relatively short canyon packs a lot in a small space. A few years back there was a technical route out to the rim. A recent rockslide has made the climb out to be very challenging and not recommended except for experienced climbers with equipment. As we hiked up the canyon we kept our eyes out for a very preserved Moki House.
I knew from the guidebook that there were some well preserved Anasazi houses in the canyon. Similar to our search on Turks Head I just could not locate the houses. I was very frustrated at times. Luckily again Laura was patient and we did finally locate the houses. They were up and out of the way on quite a high ledge.
We left Jasper Canyon at about 11:40 am. We were not planning on any side trips as we made our way to our final river destination at Spanish Bottom. There were several canyons that offered hiking opportunities but all involved steep hikes to the rim. There was also no Native American structures or art on the rest of our trip that would have necessitated a side trip. I was very surprised at the speed we traveled down the river. I was able to calculate from the time stamp on the photos that it took us just 70 minutest to travel from Stove Canyon to the Confluence a distance of 7 miles making for a speed of 6 miles per hour.
Just as we were about to finish our river trip we came across an unexpected obstacle. Within sight of our destination at Spanish Bottom we came across ripples in the river forming a downstream V shape. I had no idea what the significance of the ripples were so we aimed down the side of the river and held on. The people who we had shared Jasper Canyon with us told us later that one of the canoes did a 180 degree turn as they went through the ripple which I imagined would have been somewhat unnerving. A downstream V indicates unobstructed flow and you are best to pass through the apex of the V so that you are perpendicular to the waves. By going close to the side of the river we hit the waves on an angle which would have pushed our canoe around more. If the V shape is pointing upstream it indicates obstructed flow at the apex of the V, possibly a submerged rock. A boater should navigate away from the apex of a upstream V to avoid contact with the obstruction.
I was very happy with where we landed on Spanish Bottom. The first time I camped at Spanish Bottom we camped right at the downstream end. The downstream end of Spanish Bottom has quite a large beach and landing area and is normally a very popular and thus crowded spot. This time I was hopeful to find a more secluded spot to camp. As we approached the top end of Spanish Bottom the group we had shared Jasper Canyon waved us by saying that there was no more room. We stayed close to the shoreline looking for access into Spanish Bottom. About halfway down we found some trees that formed a shady spot on the river and hidden behind the trees was a lovely log staircase up and into Spanish Bottom. We maneuvered the canoe over to the staircase and once tied up securely we headed up the stairs to investigate our home the evening.
The plan was to go to the Doll House for sunrise in the morning like I had done on the Colorado River Trip in 2015. Since it was still early in the evening we decided to hike up to the Doll House so that Laura could get a feel for the route which would help when we hiked up in the morning when it would be dark. It is only a 1 mile (1.6 km) hike up the cliff with an elevation gain of about 1200 ft (375 m) so we figured we had lots of time to make a quick dash up.
Just before we arrived at the Doll House we met rafting group coming down who had hiked out the Confluence Overlook, a good day hike. They had spent a couple days at Spanish Bottom and had taken the opportunity to explore the area. The next day they were headed down river through Cataract Canyon
We were back down just after 8 pm. The goal for the morning was a 6 am wake up for the hike up to the Doll House for sunrise so we quickly headed to bed to get some sleep.