The North American Frontiersmen





Staff Writer

   Smoke Signals

                   May./Jun. '09



This is a quickie article to meet a deadline. I’ve been busy at work, rendezvous and keeping up with family life. I’ve been asked to write about some of my canoe adventures. So, I’m throwing this together on the hurry – please forgive my lack of preparedness. 

One of the best canoe trips I have done is the Lower Green River in Utah. This was a 5 day, 123 mile trip. It is rated at class I+, which is beginner easy. Class I is easy, smooth water, class V or VI will kill you (possibly). We like to do class II , or less. This is the first (only) trip I’ve done that required the assistance of an outfitter. The reason is that the Lower Green River runs into the Colorado River just above the Grand Canyon, in Canyon Lands National Park. Once you get to the confluence of the two rivers, there is no way out but up river – no roads.

At the time the outfitter cost $120 per person, plus a couple of incidentals. This was in 2000, so things have probably increased in cost. We used Tag-A-Long Expeditions as our outfitter, which I recommend. I don’t have experience with the other outfitters, but Tag-A-Long was great for us. They are in Moab, Utah. This is where we all met. There is a local campground in Moab, which was our meeting place. There were seven of us who shared this adventure. We were from Florida, Colorado, California, Iowa, and Missouri. We all met at Portal R.V. Park & Fishery, which is on the main Highway through Moab. On Monday morning we all went over to the outfitter, loaded our gear on their bus and trailer and they took us to Green River State Park. This is where we entered the waters of the Green River.

As there was an odd number of us, we had to decide- three to a canoe, or does someone solo? I had two canoes along, one is a light, fast canoe which I had soloed for afternoon trips before. We decided that I’d try soloing, and if it was too much we’d trade off soloing so no one had to work too hard. As it turned out I did ok, and did the whole trip solo. I had a bit of trouble with the wind the first day, or two – but was pleased to be up to the challenge. Soloing is definitely harder than having a canoe partner.

As usual, we worked hard the first part of the trip. As we have a certain average miles per day to be on schedule, we like to ‘bank’ miles at the beginning of the trip if possible. This helps us if we encounter problems later on. Better to be ahead of schedule, we figure. As it turned out this worked well for us. Our fourth day we mostly just floated – enjoying the scenery, etc…. One of the historical places on this trip is an inscription on a rock wall by a French fur trapper, Denis Julien. Denis was on this stretch of river in 1836 and spent time inscribing his name and date on a rock wall. There are also Indian ruins, etc…. along the river.

One of the reasons this trip was my favorite is that there were only seven of us. I’ve done trips with as many as 21 folks along. This can cause problems with ‘group dynamics’. This trip went so smoothly, we all worked as a team with no problems. I met Mike Moore (fellow NAF member) on this trip. The rest of the fellows I’d known before. All but one I’d made river trips with before. We had a good cohesive group of like minded folks. It was most pleasant.

I could go on forever about the beauty of these multi layered deep canyons we passed through. It makes one feel so small, the height of the canyon walls. And the agelessness of these ancient haunts makes one feel like a mere second in the expanse of time.

Once you get to end of the Green River you enter the Colorado River. Don’t go too far or you’ll enter Cataract Canyon (class V), don’t go there! There are several nice beaches to sit and wait for the boat to come down from Moab and pick up you and your gear. It’s a pleasant several hour trip back up the Colorado River in a big Jet boat to Moab, where your personal vehicles are safely waiting for you at the outfitters secure location.

A trip like this does require some preparation. If anyone is considering it, please feel free to contact me with questions, etc… , or (805)937-7685.

And don’t forget… Paddle hard, life is short     Yfab,                                     

Randy Bublitz

N.A.F. #8



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updated  05/10/2009   

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