The Season of Three Permits: Trip 3, Gates of Lodore

Fog in Lodore Canyon

The canyon of Lodore holds a special place in the pantheon of western multi-day trips. John Wesley Powell named it after a famous English poem, “The Cataract of Lodore” which eloquently describes the flow of water over a waterfall, but more importantly just sounds mysterious and cool.

Today, like most permitted rivers, your odds of every seeing this place aren’t great. If you get invited you go. The 4 Rivers Lottery is the only place that publishes all the stats for applications. So while this doesn’t represent Lodore, you get the idea. FYI there are 300 permits given between May 10 & September 10.

4 Rivers Lottery Statistics
May the Odds Be In Your Favor
Entrance in Dinosaur National Monument
Now Leaving Civilization

The tools of the day made many of the obstacles for Powell, recreation for us today. The major rapids of Lodore are far more manageable with consistent flows and rubber boats. The wooden 21 foot boats of Powell’s day coupled with the unknown dangers and flows of a wild river were terrifying to put it mildly.

We run down to the mouth of Yampa River. This has been
a chapter of disasters and toils, notwithstanding which the canon of Ladore
was not devoid of scenic interest, even beyond the power of pen to tell.
The roar of its waters was heard unceasingly from the hour we entered it
until we landed here. No quiet in all that time. But its walls and cliffs,
its peaks and crags, its amphitheaters and alcoves, tell a story of beauty and
grandeur that I hear yet-and shall hear.

J.W. Powell June 17, 1869
Gates of Lodore put in
The “Gates” of Lodore Canyon
Fog in Lodore Canyon
A Rainy Day in the Canyon

Rain persisted for twenty four hours. We traversed from Kolb to Wild Mountain through the storm. Taking time to scout Triplet Falls and Hell’s Half Mile before finding the sanctuary of a single tree at Wild Mountain that provided enough relief for our shrimp fajitas.

We made our way through Echo Park and into Rainbow Park where we camped at The Cove. The mud pit that is The Cove wasn’t the greatest campsite I’ve stayed at, but when you’re on Lodore there aren’t bad ones either. We hiked, we rowed, we cooked, and we finished by sitting next to an old ammo can hooked up to a propane tank.

Our trip included a living legend. Howie recently retired from a lifetime of guiding Grand Canyon adventures. By his own account he has 170+ trips and over six years of sleeping on his boat under the stars. A quiet man, he never offered an opinion unless asked. It took several days for him to finally reveal the breath of his experiences and knowledge, including trips down the canyon in 1983 with flows approaching 100k. On our last night he broke out his favorite scotch, Lagavulin.

I may be back this winter…

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