Monday, July 13, 2015

Rafts, Rocks and Pod People

June 29, 2015
I’m back from my Green River raft trip that was shortened from a four day trip to only three. We were consistently surprised throughout the trip. We found no evidence of black bears activity: no tracks, no scat, no scent, and no behavior indicators. Despite that the river campsite was posted as closed and all access was cautioned.
Raft caught in Hell's Half Mile Rapid, July 2015 Seen from River Left
As for the river raft lodged in the Hell’s Half Mile rapid, our mutual assessment was that it wasn't worth the risk to our lives to try and access the raft in order to remove it. Provided here are two of the pictures I took. One shows it from ‘river left’ from which we would be required to wade, first to an island, and then to the raft in deep, swift current. The second shows how well lodged the raft was perpendicular to the current trapped between to rocks. Enlarge the picture to note the mangled aluminum frame bent from the powerful hydraulic forces. I showed the picture to a river guide that frequents the area and he said he had a trapped “ducky” stuck there recently. Surprisingly, it eventually popped itself out. A “ducky” is an inflatable kayak (IK) that has an inflated floor separating two inflated tubes joined at both ends.
Raft caught in Hell's Half Mile Rapid, July 2015. Safe Passage is on Right of Raft
The third surprise of the trip was the freakish rain/wind storm we had on the second night. Try cooking while the wind is strong enough to flatten your tent. It wouldn’t stop until we persuaded the last person in the group to wear and zip-up their rain jacket. That trick always seems to work as the rain and wind stopped. In the distance we watched some large lightning strikes and heard the resulting thunder.
On the next morning we saw a helicopter fly low over us heading up river. It turns out that where we stopped to look for bears was hit by lighting on the ridge and had already burned about 115 acres of juniper/pinyon habitat and was heading down the canyon towards the campsite. Because the area is so inaccessible by land helicopters have been flying water buckets all day to cool down the fire in our 90 degree heat. Twenty or more fire fighters are trying to drive in from the south and west but have been stymied by the difficult terrain.
In the meantime it’s snowing here in the campground. Well sort of. The cottonwood trees are releasing their seeds into the air and there are periods when it looks like a heavy snow storm. The seeds pile up in eddies and look like some alien spawn infesting all back-country.
Sleep well tonight sayeth the Pod People.
Cottonwood Seed Accumulation (The origin of POD People)

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