Warm Springs to Jones Hole

The photo below was taken at 2 AM — a bit late. The light on the cliffs is from the moon that is just below the hills in the distance.

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By 6:10 AM our Warm Springs Camp was stirring.

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I hiked along the beach toward the rapids and made the 16-shot panorama below.

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The rapids do not look nearly as impressive in a photo as they do in real life. After running the rapids, the first boats of our group eddied-out behind the rock on the left that you can see below the major parts of the rapids.

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The four Yampa River veterans posed for some photos.

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I made a large panorama of our dining room/kitchen/bedroom. You can get to a version that you can zoom into and explore by clicking HERE.

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Bruce showed Joelle photos and descriptions from shortly after the landslide 50 years ago. Breakfast was blueberry pancakes and sausage. Grant and David enjoyed the meal.

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George and Al recalled that time 50 years ago. The morning after the landslide, Al ran the huge new Warm Springs Rapid without scouting because he “knew” the rapids at this spot were very mild. His partner in another raft perished. That morning the Warm Spring Rapids were as big and violent as they would likely ever be. George and Al hiked from Echo Park to Dinosaur to alert authorities and get help.

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I hiked a bit up hill to make some panoramic photos of Warm Springs. Stephen joined me. You can get to versions of these two panoramas that you can zoom into and explore by clicking HERE

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This is one way to get the sand out of ones tent.

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After breakfast the boatmen prepared for the day ahead.

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We waited for a hike to start to the site of the cabin and boulder slide.

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Warm Springs Cliff stands tall above the rapids and some of the boulders deposited there.

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We scrambled over the boulder field to get to the place where the cabin that George and Bruce sheltered in was shortly before it was obliterated by the debris slide.

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Bruce lined up an old photo with the scene to try to figure out where it was taken.

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The group helped determine where the cabin might have stood.

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George and Bruce think they might be standing at or near the cabin site.

The cabin site was likely near the rocks at this spot.

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The three Warm Springs survivors pose near the cabin site for some photos

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It certainly is an impressive set of boulders down by the river.

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As we prepare to leave our camp, I glanced downstream and didn’t see much in the way of rapids.
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However Josh warned me that there was a splashy spot just below our beach named Surprise Rapid. He suggested I put my cameras away. Good thing. But still I was surprised when a huge wave washed over our raft and tossed my hat to the river gods. I didn’t mind too much losing my hat, but I was glad I kept my photo notebook in a plastic bag in my shirt pocket. That is until I discovered this was the one time I forgot to put it in the bag.

Stephen and Heather each rode single duckies this day. Stephen was also surprised by the one big hole that comprised the bulk of Surprise Rapid. He went for an unintentional swim.

Stephen remembered Matt’s instructions from the second morning on how to board a duckie while swimming but struggled to put the lesson into practice. So Heather suggested he board the duckie from the stern while Heather held the bow. This worked, but a strange thing happened. Stephen’s high quality Marmot pants legs grew over a foot longer during the adventure.

After his swim, Stephen was back in his duckie and happy, though a bit wet. Heather was feeling a bit cocky.

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Tony was cruising along with a raft loaded with gear, Jill, and Jennifer.

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We floated peacefully the last few miles of the beautiful Yampa with brothers Tim and Lial in the double duckie.

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We passed Box Elder Park — our originally assigned camp site for the night before it fortunately got changed to Warm Springs.

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George was enjoying the experience with Pat steering the paddle raft.

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Jennifer took a last dip in the Yampa just before we reached Steamboat Rock and the Green River.

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Our boats were dwarfed by the massive and very impressive Steamboat Rock.

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Looking back at the conjunction of the Green and Yampa, we reflected on how great a river the wild, un-dammed Yampa is. We all hope it stays that way forever.

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We cruised by Steamboat Rock not stopping at Echo Park like we did on the Green River trip. Echo Park was a great place for lunch and a hike to petroglyphs and Pat Lynch’s hangout.

Pat Lynch was an Irishman, Civil War Veteran, and hermit who lived in the caves and cabins of part of Echo Park called by locals, “Pat’s Hole”. From the 1880s to 1917 he scavenged for food and ate jerked carrion. He had a horse named Mitten, and the area where the horse grazed got the name Mitten Park. The horse even has a fault named after it.

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We marveled at the Mitten Park Fault.

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Entering Whirlpool Canyon the current picked up a bit.

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We stopped at the proposed Echo Park Dam site and learned about an attempt to flood every place we had visited in the last 4 days as well as the preceding week on the Green River. Fortunately the project was abandoned.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation planned in the early 1950s for a dam at Echo Park generated strong arguments on both sides and dominated conservation politics for years. David Brower, executive director of the Sierra Club, and Howard Zahniser of The Wilderness Society led an unprecedented nationwide campaign to preserve the free-flowing rivers and scenic canyons of the Green and Yampa Rivers. After much debate, Congress eliminated the Echo Park Dam but authorized other dams on the Colorado River.

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As we listened to Pat tell the history of this site I observed how Stephen’s pants had grown a foot longer from his “Surprise” adventure.

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The boatmen prepared another great lunch which we enjoyed on this sandy and sheltered beach.

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As we prepared to depart the Echo Park Dam site…

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…Al, George, and Bruce shared more stories and memories.

We crossed into Utah from Colorado “going back 30 years in time”, as Bruce from the Green River trip said. A few paddle strokes later we passed Jones Hole Creek and then reached our final camp of the trip at Jones Hole 4.

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While most of our group lounged in camp, the rest of us took a great hike to swim at a small falls in Jones Hole Creek, view pictographs, and experience Butt Dam Falls from below.

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Here are some of the pictographs we viewed. 

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Just as George had hiked in to join our trip, so he hiked out about 20 hours early. He is one busy man! Here we are saying our fond goodbyes.

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After George departed we hiked to Butt Dam Falls which are turned off and on by someone sitting in the creek just above the falls.

Here are Pat and Cynthia at Butt Dam Falls.

Bruce took a turn under the shower.

Linda got some good splashes.

Tim was no slouch at Butt Dam.

Here I am under Butt Dam Falls.  You can see a bit of Joelle at the upper right triggering the water.

Back at camp Pat relaxed with a nice view of Harpers Corner far about the Green River to the east.

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We had the traditional last dinner of steak.

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Near sunset the views upstream at Harpers Corner (left) and downstream (right) were very nice.

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For comparison, here is the view from Jones Hole 2 Camp a week earlier.

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Around 9 PM the campfire felt nice after another great day on the Yampa.

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My Milky Way shots were made at somewhat random times — whenever I woke up enough to work my camera. At 10:30 PM I was surprised to find a loud party still going on at the circle. But it broke up as I set up to make some photos — I believe I did not cause the party to end. It was early in the evening relatively speaking, so the Milky Way had not risen very high yet. I decided to not wait until it did.

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More photos from Day 4 on the Yampa follow.

Here are some links to aid in navigation.

Green River

Yampa River

Dinosaur National Monument

Panoramas:

Green River

Yampa River