Early November along the Colorado Plateau isn’t supposed to be warm, at all. It is supposed to be cold, lacking sunlight, and the hospitality that the area provides in the spring and summer. It may have been good fortune, or the changing climate along the Colorado River and her tributaries but nonetheless, 65° and t-shirts in Lodore Canyon in November is pretty amazing. Because of this, 2021 was the year of not three, but four permits.
No ranger to check us in and no one else on the river. We had the entire river to ourselves and every campsite at our disposal. The beach of Pot Creek had a temperature reading of 65 when we pulled into camp. With the sun setting behind the canyon by 4PM we made quick work of setup and made our way up behind camp to catch the last rays of sun before dinner.
On day two we spent our last night in the Canyon of Lodore. Running through Triplet and Hells Half Mile without incident we made home at Rippling Brook 2. As we pulled into camp the sun peeked through for five minutes and quickly retreated for the rest of the day. The storm clouds gathered and we spent most of the afternoon and evening hunkered under a tarp hiding from the rain.
The race to Echo Park before 11 meant we were on the boats and moving by 8:30. Fearful of low flows coupled with the possibility of afternoon winds made for a brisk departure from camp. Our weather turned out to be incredible. We spent time at Steamboat Rock and near the confluence, watching the natural turbid flow of the Yampa combine with the clear dam released water of Flaming Gorge.
I’ve seen oil slicks at Jones before, I was told that fracking operations just outside Dinosaur increase the subterranean pressure throughout the monument. Regardless of if this is true, the slicks illustrate the obvious abundance of natural resources just beneath the surface.
We had sun drenched mountains both up and downstream. Some epic ramen meticulously prepared with an accompaniment of exquisite inverted pineapple cake. To top it off we melted an aluminum fire pan with the last of our wood. Good evening was had by all. Jones 4 has an amazing beach and great landing zone. While it lacks the unique tree canopy of the upstream Jones camps it makes up for it with its ease of access.
For future reference, the right channel around Island Park is the only channel you can run. Ask me how I know…The Yampa provided over 500CFS for us that seemed to be the difference as we grazed over sandbars in Island and Rainbow Parks. With the lower water, I was able to finally find the hot spring in Split Mountain Canyon.
The solitude of this trip made up for the colder weather and shorter days. With the right equipment, the elements are very manageable. I’ll be back for another one of these low season trips.