River Trip Question and Answers
What should I bring?
Sleeping Bag, (synthetic better than down because they dry quicker if they get wet) sleeping pad, air mattress, cot.
Tent – optional, there are lotsa stars; if it rains, there will be other tents. Bring a ground cloth.
Sunscreen, chapstick, lotion, sunglasses.
Long sleeves shirts of cotton for sunburned arms.
Long pants, short pants, shorts, hat with tiedown, sunglasses with lanyard or croakie.
Sneakers & hiking boots or shoes, wool socks.
Waterproof windbreaker shell, rain pants (just in case..)
Flashlight or headlamp
Water bottle with your name (we’ll keep it in a cooler for you)
DEET, Cutters, or other repellent.
Who is in charge of the expedition?
Tag-a-long Expeditions – Utah River and Wilderness Expeditions since 1964
What’s for Dinner?
With Tag-A-Long Expeditions, camping doesn’t mean eating hot dogs and marshmallows on a driftwood log. In the morning you might expect pancakes or omelets with lots of “cowboy coffee” along with juices, fruits, cereals, muffins and jams. Lunch fare might be a fresh salad wrapped in flour tortillas, sandwich buffets or creative pasta dishes. Typical evening meals include steaks, fish or marinated chicken grilled over charcoal and in Dutch ovens.
What are the rules?
Life jackets: The NPS requires that life jackets be worn at all times while on the boat below the Confluence. Tag-A-Long will furnish life jackets, and require that they be worn at any time you are in the water.
Bow line: The bow line is solely for securing the boat to the shore, and should be ready for this task at all times. It is secured to the metal boat frame and threaded through ropes on the bow. If it goes overboard while under way, it most assuredly will foul the prop, stopping the engine. This is a bad situation in rapids and can put the boat at risk to being overturned. It is therefore to be stowed with about 10 feet of free rope between the stow and the attach point, and placed back over the dry box where the boatman can see it.
Fire pan and fire safety: We have a fire pan for campfires. A 5 gallon fire bucket of river water should be at the fire. If windy, fire can be hazardous and should be doused. The tamarisk, even when green, burns vigorously, and a number of river bottoms have burned due to carelessness. The old cottonwoods are vulnerable and take a long time to come back. We leave no sign when we break camp; ashes are carried into the current
Sanitation: #1 directly into the river is OK, otherwise not. #2 in the portable toilet only.
Streams and pools: Soaps and body oils affect the life in the small streams and pools. No soap or shampoo should be used in these waters. Main stream is OK. Solar showers are available.
Artifacts and rock samples: Nothing in the way of artifacts and rock samples leaves the Park. Indian ruins and artifacts and wall art are Federally protected.
Leaving camp: When we break camp, there should be little sign that we were there. Volunteers should walk the camp site and make sure that the camp is back to an original state.
What is the trip itinerary?
This itinerary is subject to slight changes.
We will rendezvous at Tag-A-Long Expeditions, 452 North Main in Moab 800-453-3292, by 7 am to load all gear in the shuttle vehicles and board the bus for Potash, about 20 miles downstream of Moab on the Colorado River. Along the way, we make road stops to view dinosaur tracks and petroglyphs. At Potash, Tag-A-Long will have the boats in the water and ready to load.
From Potash we head down to a petrified forest for exploration and lunch, and then on to Indian Creek where we will camp if it is open. There are some Anasazi ruins there, and sometimes the water is running in Indian Creek. We’ll round out the day with dinner and relaxing under the western night skies.
The second day starts with a full breakfast, including Lattes if we can get a volunteer to run the coffee bar. There’s about a 1 mile hike upstream on Indian creek to a waterfall for those interested in exploring. We have a short second day on the river, so we don’t have to push off until late morning, leaving time to hike, explore, paddle ahead in one of two inflatable sportyaks, or just relax in camp
On the second day, those who enjoy hiking can take a trail at the Loop and meet up with the rafts about 4 miles downstream, where we stop for lunch. Further down the river, we go through a little ripple at The Slide. Rafters can enjoy getting in the river and going through the slide in life jackets – for non-swimmers, this is a good chance to get comfortable with being in the water, and relying on the life jacket for floatation. From there, we boat to the Confluence with the Green river, and the flow picks up a little. About 5 miles further is Spanish Bottom, an open basin that is our second camp. Another night of relaxing, camaraderie, and star-gazing.
On day three we lash down the gear and go through the rapids. There are about 35 rapids interspersed with flat water. The big rapids have catchy names like Satan’s Gut, Little Niagara, the Red Wall, the Tail Wave, and will provide a memorable thrill for even the most adventuresome rafters. We will double-jacket those that are apprehensive or are not good swimmers. Somewhere along the way we will eat lunch.
We may camp in the canyon, or run the rest of the 10 or so smaller rapids down to Lake Powell and camp on Slickrock, overlooking the lake. Early on day 4 we break camp and head to Hite Marina, and then back to Moab.
Regarding safety and risk:Life jackets must be worn while on the river below the confluence; this is a Park Service regulation. Park Rangers report that no one has ever drowned in Cataract with a life jacket on and properly tightened. Also, there is no reason to go (involuntarily) overboard unless you are being very careless. While It is too early to predict the river flow as most of the snowpack comes in March-April, we can expect between 15,000 and 30,000 cfs on this trip, which is a good ride. We have VHF radios that are capable of communicating with the Park Service if need be. While cell phone coverage is spotty from the canyon rim, we have a satellite telephone for contact from any location on the river. The Rangers sometimes patrol the river (it’s their favorite duty).
This trip is being underwritten and supported by Tag-A-Long Expeditions and Aarchway Inn of Moab.
My cellphone in Moab will be 303-818-7600. Fred Solheim