Vernal Stories and Tips

Yampa River Day 3-5

Yampa River Day 3 Photo, Vernal, Utah


(June 8) Today was my 54th birthday. We had a great day. We broke camp after a breakfast of sausage and eggs and went across the river to explore a cave. The cave is up on the side of the canyon wall and is called Signature cave. There are signatures from people who started exploring the river starting in the 1930s. The view from up there is incredible. When in the back of the cave people can only be seen as dark silhouettes.
We hiked down and floated downriver to another cave. This cave we hiked about 2.5 miles to. It is called Mantle cave. It used to have Indian ruins in it but vandals have wrecked it. What a shame. It’s on the private property of the Mantle ranch.
The next big event was the biggest rapid on the river, Warm Springs rapid. We stopped so the guides could scout the rapid for the best route through it. We were on Tom-Tom’s boat today and he maneuvered through the rapid beautifully. He used a big rock to pivot around from going backwards for max power to forwards. Just after running the rapid the pin holding the oar broke which left us adrift. Luckily we were close to shore and near an eddy to pull out. If that pin had broken while in the rapid it would have been real bad.
We hung out and watched other boats run the rapid. Around this time the battery on my waterproof camera died.
We headed down the river to our next campsite. I found two nice campsites next to the river with a wonderful view, but Laura felt there were too many mosquitoes there. However it turned out the whole camping area was swarming with mosquitoes and we ended up settling for a much poorer campsite.
I was looking forward to one of my orange sodas I brought after the long day. I saw that a kid had taken one of my sodas and it upset me because I only brought a six-pack and I don’t drink alcohol, of which there was plenty on the trip. Luckily I had one orange soda left for myself.
Laura gave me my birthday gift, which she had been carrying down river the whole time. It was a camping hammock.
When we showed up in the kitchen area after our lasagna dinner everyone broke out singing me happy birthday and I was presented with a cheesecake with lit candles in it. I blew them out and we all ate cheesecake. I slept a little better that night getting things figured out better.

(June 9) Today we decided to ride the dory boat. Steve or "Doc" as he is affectionately known as was our guide. Doc is a retired dentist who sold his practice to be a full-time river guide He works mainly in the Grand Canyon. He was on our trip as a favor to two of the people on the trip that loved riding in dories.
I had lost my hat and couldn’t find it anywhere. It was the only hat I had with a strap to keep it on in the wind. I was bummed.
Laura had to go relieve herself at the last minute and came back and tossed my hat in the boat and said someone left his hat behind. Luckily my hat somehow ended up where she decided to piddle. She didn’t recognize it as my hat even though I had been wearing it for 3 days.
The dory really goes up and over the waves instead of blasting through them like the rafts do. You bob up and down. It’s very fun. Today we came to the confluence of the Yampa and Green rivers. The rest of the trip was on the Green river.
We stopped at a park and hiked 1 mile up to some nice petroglyphs on a cliff. Down where the boats were tied up we saw a nice sized snake. I think it was a gopher snake.
After lunch we rafted down through some geologic wonders. Faults had thrust and tilted layers almost vertical. Rock over a billion years old was exposed in this section of the canyon. Our lunch was at a nice sandy beach with the geology features in view. The battery in my second camera died at lunch. This is where my photography ended. I will rely on my sister to provide photos of the rest of the trip.
We got to camp and found a nice spot in the corner where a creek enters the river.
I had just finished putting the rain fly on my tent when it started pouring and the wind blew fierce. I had to help Laura put the rain fly on her tent. In the rain and wind we got it twisted and put it on upside down twice before we finally got it on right. Meanwhile even though I had all my gear in my tent, the wind picked it up and it flew until it hit a tree. Lucky it didn’t blow into the river. I staked it down after that. We then dove into our tents to ride out the rainstorm. The sound of the rain hitting my tent put me to sleep and I took a 2-hour nap.
We had huge shrimp appetizers and very tender steak for our final dinner on the river.
I slept completely through the night as I had finally, after 3 previous nights worked out the best pillow and sleeping arrangements. Too bad this was our last night.

(June 10)
Today was our last day on the river.
We went through Split Mountain. It’s interesting geology where there was a mountain, and then it got split by a fault then the river went through it. It’s not too often a river goes through a mountain. They generally go around them. Today we rode with the guide Russell. He made the last day fun aiming the raft at the biggest waves and keeping us wet. I think I was more wet on this day than any of the previous days. We were riding on the raft with a family from Nashville, they were Tom, Susan, and their pre-teen daughter Natalie.
We arrived at the take-out near Dinosaur Quarry. Our river trip was over.
After we got to the hotel it was so nice to take a hot shower. What a great invention hot water is.
After we were all cleaned up, we went out for a farewell dinner with most of the guides and fellow river running adventurers.

Matt Colver

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