Monday, June 29, 2009

Green River Trip & Freehikes - Oct. 2006

October 8th, PJ and I drove from Salt Lake City to Moab, Utah, to float the Green River with our friends, Larry and Bob. We had some extra time Monday, so we visited Arches National Park, just outside Moab. Monday evening we met with Larry and Bob to get organized and plan our transportation to the river Tuesday morning. We were excited to get started.

Tuesday as the shuttle van took us down a long dirt road to Ruby Ranch our driver explained that the area had just gotten over record rain storms. He explained if it rained much more he might not be able to pick us up at Mineral Bottom on Saturday as planned. We explained we had to get out so we could return to California in time to catch a flight to Orlando. We decided to risk it, so the driver dropped us off with our canoes and equipment at a muddy beach near Ruby Ranch.

We loaded the canoes, got naked, and paddled down stream. The river was very high and yucky-muddy; apparently this isn’t usually the case. However, the scenery was wonderful from the very start. The river banks were bordered by thick tamarisk, and red cliffs rose high on both sides. After a few hours I noticed a wash leading up from the river; we stopped and took a wonderful freehike. The rain had left warm pools of water in the bottom of the red-walled wash.

Splashing through the pools cooled our naked bodies which had been nicely warmed by the sun. We even found a pool big enough for all of us to soak in and talk. We noticed some cliff dwelling high up in the cliffs. This was the best hike we took the entire trip, but not the only one.

We reached our first camp site fairly early, pulled the canoes up a shallow river near the camp, and unloaded the equipment. This camp was on a sandy dirt ledge perhaps twenty feet above the river, at the base of an amazingly tall red-rock cliff. The “almost a trail” from the river, through the mud and tamarisk, and up to the camp was pretty tough going. Still it was nice to get settled and eat together. Two unfortunate things happened that first night. PJ lost her sunglasses while helping another party find a campsite, and our air mattress developed a leak. This was the last night we had a comfortable sleep during the entire trip. Oh well.

The next morning we packed and paddled on down river again. The entire stretch of the river we floated was smooth and slow moving. It was relaxing to paddle slowly, or just float along and feel the warm sun on our bodies. Our backs got sore from just sitting (next time we’re taking a seat with a back rest), so we stopped at a likely looking wash to rest our backs and take another freehike. Instead of extending far back into the cliffs, this wash quickly rose up from the river and after a short time we emerged high up above the river and canoes. The views were beautiful, and the sun and breeze felt great as they caressed our naked bodies. We collected some nice rocks near the top, and soon returned to the canoes.

That night, Wednesday evening, we camped near some small cliffs at the side of the river. The banks were very muddy. PJ slipped and slid down the muddy bank while tying up the canoes – fortunately mud easily washes off naked bodies – unfortunately PJ hurt her knee. We set up camp, and Bob and I went for a freehike. On the way I slipped on some rocks and really bruised my hand and skinned up my leg, so I returned to camp early. So there we were, two naked warriors, both wounded, without an air mattress. Needless to say, we didn’t sleep well that night. We hurt so bad, PJ and I played a “guess-that-tune” game to pass the time, singing into the night and early in the morning; this was fun. Also on the positive side, this was a beautiful place to camp and we took a nice picture of PJ’s signature pose.

We got up early the next morning, ate breakfast, and headed down river. The scenery was again amazing. We were hurting to much to stop and hike this day, but floating along the river, watching Great Blue Herons, and feeling the warm sun on our bodies kept things quit enjoyable. It was even fun listening to Larry and Bob argue in the other canoe. (For a while we thought they might get really angry and drown each other, but they eventually apologized.) We just kept on paddling.

Thursday evening we stopped early again to camp. The bank at this campsite was perhaps 10 feet high, and very muddy; we weren’t sure we could even get out. I dropped PJ off at the mouth of a small river to see if we might stop there; she just about sank out of sight in quick sand. We finally found an area where we could dig some stairs in the mud bank, and climb up to the camp. It was all slick and messy, but we made it, set up camp, and ate dinner. The ground was hard again this night, and the singing continued.

Friday we got up early, ate breakfast, packed the canoes, and headed on down the river. The scenery along this stretch of the river was the most spectacular of all. We paddled right along the edge of amazingly tall, red-rock cliffs. We paddled for hours around a goose-neck in the river. Our naked bodies soaked up lots of warm sun. We stopped three times: Once to see the area where many past visitors had carved rock art and their names. Then, we stopped at an area where uranium mining had been done in the past, and freehiked up to an abandoned mine.
As it got later in the afternoon we stopped at a canyon to look for a campsite. We didn’t find a good spot to camp, but we took a marvelous freehike up the canyon, looking for a natural arch the van driver had told us about. We ran out of time before we got to the top of the cliffs where the arch was supposed to be, but we took time to wash off and soak in a warm, rain-filled red-rock pool in the wash bed. Not only does the sun and air feel great when you hike nude, but it is sure easy and natural to just jump in a pool and cool off along the way.

After the freehike, we paddled downstream to hopefully find a campsite before dark. We got lucky. We found a giant sandbar. This was the only place we camped the entire trip where we didn’t have to fight muddy banks. We set up camp, ate dinner, and went to bed early. Even though the ground was sandy, it was still hard sleeping, so PJ and I sang ourselves to sleep again, anticipating the end of the trip by lunch-time the next day. The weather had been sunny and warm; it looked like we wouldn’t have to worry about getting picked up. At 4:00 am that night we heard rain drops on the tent. We just kept singing.

We got up to showers Saturday morning. Larry said he’d miss our singing. We ate breakfast, packed up the canoes, and paddled off down the river hoping we’d be able to get out; PJ and I were definitely ready. It rained the entire time as we paddled several hours to our pick-up point - Mineral Bottom – no nudity this day. We arrived by about 11:00 am, unloaded the canoes, pulled them up the bank, and waited in the rain. Pick up time was supposed to be 12:00 noon.

We passed the time talking with an older gentleman with a long beard who stayed in a trailer at Mineral Bottom. I’m sure he didn’t get a chance to talk with many people, so we couldn’t get him to stop talking. He had some pretty crazy ideas about staying healthy by moving around all the time, even when asleep.

We kept close watch on the dirt road that dropped into Mineral Bottom, afraid our ride might not make it in because of the rain. Noon passed – no van. 1:00 pm passed – no van – we were worried. Finally, about 1:30 a white Suburban drove down the road. It turned out that the van and trailer couldn’t make it down to us, so the owner of the company jumped in the Suburban to give it a try; we were very grateful.

The trip back was exciting, in fact scary. The muddy single-lane dirt road switched back and forth straight up a 1000 foot red-rock cliff. At every turn we threw mud in our wake. You didn’t dare look down - the cliff dropped forever just a few feet from the vehicle – way too exciting. We were definitely happy to reach the top safely – alive.

So, we survived our Green River trip. It was certainly an adventure. Larry said it was the most difficult trip he’d even taken down the Green River, and he’d done it many times before. On the positive side, we saw some wonderful scenery, got in some quality sunning and freehiking, and learned a lot about each other. Would we do it again? Probably, now that we’ve gotten over some of the pain. We learned a lot; next time we’ll pick a time with much less rain and mud, take a better air mattress and a seat with a back, as well as an extra pair of sun glasses. We’ll drink lots more water. We’ll freehike even more, but be more careful, and stay just as nude – maybe even more.

You can see some photos of our trip at:

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