AN EXPEDITION ALONG THE GREEN RIVER
On November 19, 2015, Aaron Griggs and I left Buena Vista, Co and traveled to Moab, UT. It takes 6 hours to drive from my house to Moab via US Hwy 24 and I-70. We stayed at the Motel 6 in Moab. Friday, Nov 20th, we met our driver, Doug at Tag-a-long tours. After paying our fee and filling out a BLM permit, we followed Doug out to Mineral Bottom. We parked Aaron’s truck and loaded our canoe and gear onto Doug’s vehicle and trailer. Doug took us to the town of Green River, UT where we launched our canoe at midday. The State park has a nice boat dock for launching. The launch is at river mile 120.
During our paddle we saw many ducks, some geese, three swans and several hawks. A forked horn Mule deer buck was lying on the west bank as we came through the riffles just downstream of the railroad bridge on the south side of town. We saw a Mule deer doe and another forked horn buck in the agricultural area at mile 113.
The wind picked up and we had a headwind and a tailwind depending on our direction down this winding river. We made 16 miles and camped on the east bank of the Green River, mile 104, at dusk. We made a campsite for ourselves in the sagebrush under some cottonwoods. I built our fire with flint & steel and cooked some ground venison with noodles for supper.
Aaron is very interested in trapping and the old ways of living. I bought a hunting license and he bought a trapping license. We modified a dozen traps with a 3/16″ gap between the jaws so they would be Utah legal. Aaron registered with the State and was issued a trapper’s number to put on the tags he made for our traps.
For my hunting forays, I brought a .45 caliber “Kentucky” style rifle. Being a little worried about losing my rifle in the river, I opted to bring my least expensive weapon. It just so happens this was the first rifle I ever purchased for myself in 1976; I was just 16 years old. It was made in Spain and imported and marketed by Connecticut Valley Arms.
Upon reflection, I should have brought my fowler with non-toxic shot and purchased the required waterfowl stamps. There was more waterfowl along the river than any other small game. 16 total miles today.
Day 2, Saturday Nov 21, we broke camp this morning planning on travelling 7 miles to the San Raphael River. We were mesmerized by the scenery and the flocks of Canada geese and we floated right on past the mouth of the San Raphael without seeing it.
We were about 1 mile past it when we realized our mistake. We turned around and paddled 1/2 mile back upstream but the current was so strong around a large sand bar island that we couldn’t make any headway and finally turned around and continued down to Dead Cow wash were we set up camp. Mile 94.5. This camp was absolutely gorgeous with the sheer rock wall to the north of the wash and the huge old Cottonwood to camp under.
Missing the San Raphael may have been the best mistake we made on the entire trip! After setting up camp, I took my rifle and hiked up the wash for a scout. In the bottom of the wash, I found a beautiful piece of amber flint. I saw tracks of lion, coyote, fox, deer and other small critters. I learned later some of the small tracks that I was unfamiliar with were that of Ringtail. Ringtail is a cat-like relative to the raccoon. It is almost completely nocturnal and lives in these desert canyons. We canoed 9 1/2 river miles today and another mile trying to backtrack and another mile scout. For supper, we fire roasted a squash and cooked more ground deer on a fire I struck with my new found flint. 11 1/2 total miles today.
Day 3, Sunday Nov 22, we warmed up the left-over meat and made coffee for breakfast. After breaking camp and loading the canoe we paddled only 4 1/2 miles down the river to the entrance to Labyrinth Canyon. We landed at a place called Three Canyon. Mile 90. We hiked a short way up the path to a great camp under a sheer wall that overhangs the site.
We set up our lean-to and I headed off up canyon to hunt and Aaron set out to lay some traps. I hiked/hunted my way up the main branch of Three Canyon and back to camp in the afternoon. With the side trips I made, I covered at least 4 miles on foot. I saw some tracks but never got a shot at anything. Three Canyon is composed of slot canyons. Slot canyons may be only 50 feet wide across and hundreds of feet high in places. These may be the only canyons of this type remaining since the inundation of Glen Canyon by Lake Powell.
Aaron made 6 sets. We met up at his last set on my way back. As we walked back, I found another beautiful piece of purple tinted amber flint. I instructed Aaron in how to make a fire with flint and steel which he did with this piece of flint. For supper, I reconstituted some jerky and cooked some noodles with it to make a soup. I found it difficult to walk up these canyons very fast. The trails are rocky and difficult at best and the view is so spectacular a man has to take his time to watch his footing while watching for game and taking in the fantastic scenery.
When we rolled out our beds I scooped out of the sand a hole for my hips and one for my shoulders. I had read about this in the past but I don’t do it very often. What a great difference this made in sleeping on the ground. I will have to make a habit of it when preparing my bed. 8 1/2 total miles for today. Day 4, Monday Nov 23, we got up with the sun so Aaron could check and pull our traps while I made coffee and broke camp. Aaron came back with a Ringtail and to quote my good friend, Darrell Nichols “with a smile so big you could barely see your face”!!
He skinned his prize and we packed up and hit the river. We travelled 11 miles through the magnificent Labyrinth Canyon to Keg Spring Canyon. Mile 79. We carried our gear 1/4 mile up the canyon to a bench under some cottonwoods. Another beautiful camp site.
We set out on our hunt immediately. I went at least two miles up the canyon (there was no defined trail here at all) and made a call for predators. Aaron set seven traps for various critters. We saw several sets of lion tracks, deer tracks, fox and ringtail tracks. I found another piece of flint here and as usual struck the fire off of the piece of flint I had found in that place. There are a lot of petrified trees here.
For dinner, I cooked the ringtail and some ship’s biscuit. It was the best Ringtail either of us had ever had! 16 1/2 total miles today.
Day 5, Tuesday Nov 24, Aaron pulled our traps while I made coffee and started packing. He had two sprung traps but nothing caught. I made a trip to the river with my bedroll and other gear and met Aaron with his bedroll on my return.
We made 3 trips to haul our stuff to camp and back to the river. Each trip being 1/2 mile around equals 1 1/2 miles to pack into camp and 1 1/2 miles back to the river this morning. We headed downstream and saw the river registry while watching some coots. We travelled 17 1/2 river miles today. We paddled around Bow Knot bend and saw a Grey fox along the bank. Aaron took a shot at it with his pistol before I could bring my rifle into play. The fox ran away and when we checked the riverbank there was no blood or hair so we figured he missed. We made camp on a bench above the river.
Mile 61.5. Aaron set 5 traps while I made camp and started the fire. This camp was the worst for firewood but we managed. I cooked dried fruit for supper supplemented with piňon nuts, jerky and hot chocolate.
We passed through the picturesque heart of Labyrinth canyon today. My neck got sore from looking up at all of the high walls. 19 total miles today.
Day 6, Wednesday Nov 25, Aaron pulled our traps – nothing. I cooked coffee and broke camp. We hit the river and paddled 9 1/2 miles to Mineral Bottom. Mile 52.25. After we passed Hell Roaring Canyon we had a ferocious head wind for the last 3 miles. 81 total miles afoot & afloat.
We arrived at Mineral Bottom at 1 PM, drove into Moab for some food then drove the river road up the Colorado to I-70 and home to Colorado. As can be seen from the pictures we had clear skies and warm fall weather during the day. Daily temps were in the 50’s & 60’s with night time lows in the 20’s & 30’s. The moon was waxing from 1st quarter to full, so our evenings were bright with moonlight.
Recently, I found myself back in the states in the newly founded town of Atlanta, Georgia. I was without my rifle and was in search of another. The only rifle the trading post would sell me was a version of the air rifle that Lewis & Clark carried with them on the Corp of Discovery. I put together a basic outfit and pointed my steed north east toward the South Carolina border. I was headed toward the little town of Gainesville, GA.
Gainesville was established as Mule Camp Springs by settlers in the early 1800s. Less than three years after the creation of Hall County on December 15, 1818, Mule Camp Springs became Gainesville on April 21, 1821. It was named in honor of General Edmund P. Gaines, a hero of the War of 1812 and a noted military surveyor and road-builder. Gainesville was selected to be the county seat, and was chartered by the Georgia Legislature on November 30, 1821. A gold rush that began in nearby Lumpkin County in the 1830s resulted in an increase in the number of settlers and the beginning of a business community. 
As I reached the town of Gainesville, I found a crossing of the Chattahoochee river where I picketed my steed and scouted up river on foot. I was hoping to find something for supper. As I worked my way along the riverbank, several times I jumped ducks from out in the flooded timber along the shore. They never gave me a shot with my “rifle”. Apparently the natives have been putting quite a bit of hunting pressure on them for they were very skittish. I finally caught sight of a squirrel, but only after he had seen me. He must have recognized the hungry look in my eye ’cause he was having none of it and left me watching the trees to no avail.
I worked my way upstream for another 1/2 mile or so and then started a circle back to my horse. I found fresh coyote tracks and some fresh deer tracks. There seemed to be quite a bit of wild life in the area, however today was not my lucky day and I went hungry.
Northern Georgia is some beautiful country. The river valley with its mix of pines and hardwoods reminds me of the forests of eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin, where I spent my youth. Next time maybe I can get out on the water in my canoe.
1 – Wikipedia; Gainesville, Georgia
October 18, 2015 I took my wife out for a deer hunt. She got her first deer/ big game animal ever!
June 12-14, 2015 several of us returned to Fort Uncompahgre in Delta, CO for an open house weekend. We had a great time bringing the old fort to life.
Since before I joined the American Mountain Men I have heard the phrase “Do it right”. I was somewhat taken by that line, because I am a stickler for authenticity and historical correctness. I have since come to understand that this phrase means different things to different people. To some, “Doing it right” means masochism. Intentionally experiencing the life of suffering and privation of the mountain men. Mr. G and Mr. B seem to think this the high point of the AMM experience. Mr. G told me once he went out without any char cloth so he could learn other ways of starting a fire. This is laudable and a valuable lesson. I appreciate him sharing his experience. However, when he begins to insist we all have to try his brand of masochism, I have to resist. Even Mr. G has to draw the line when Mr. B decides to trump him by only using one blanket for his winter camps. Mr. B apparently enjoys shivering through the night with one baby blanket and has bragged on it to the point of badgering others into trying it. Mr. G was not going to participate and told him so. Not until he protested did Mr. B take back some of his bragging and explain “This is just what I do. I’m not saying anyone else has to do it like this.” The problem is, that is exactly what he was saying! Mr. B is a phenomenal publicity hound. He is constantly bragging on himself and his “accomplishments”. I am sure there are many, many brothers in the AMM who put him to shame as far as individual accomplishment goes, but they are properly humble and don’t shout every little thing they do from the roof top. For Mr. B, Facebook, Email, Google groups and his website are constantly filled with his latest exploits showing him to be the best American Mountain Man!
Recently we have been having some discussion on the AMM forum regarding what the AMM is all about. A brother from Kentucky named Larry Mayes offered this pearl:
To quote from our founding fathers “The American Mountain Men’s primary characteristic is, first and foremost, to be a Brotherhood of Men. In this fraternal concept is embedded the desire of all its members to teach, share, and learn the arts and skills of the original American mountain men, but deeper still, is the desire to be upon the trail, on lake or river, in mountains, plains or woods, as brothers, sharing this great experience. The sense of camaraderie and the shared endeavor are more important, always, than individual gain. These are the goals and the founding wisdom of A.M.M. To keep alive the skills of the freest men our great nation ever birthed; to preserve his abilities and emulate his way of life as historically accurately as possible.”
This quote stuck me as needing to be more widely spread. “The sense of camaraderie and the shared endeavor are more important, always, than individual gain.” Mr. G and especially Mr. B do not seem to agree with this aspect of AMM Brotherhood. During the past few years when I had contact with Mr. B, he constantly complained of no one calling seasonal camps. Yet, when people did call those camps, he would rarely attend. He was usually too busy attending a private camp with one or two of his hand picked cronies. Mr. B is all about individual gain and nothing about camaraderie.
In the Code of the AMM is the following; During any survival situation, I shall be willing to divide any food and water I have and give any other assistance to people found in need. I am going to assume this would include a called camp. I have seen Mr. B withhold food from other members of his camp. I can not really explain why I saw him do this but I certainly saw it happen.
Another pearl that came out of our recent discussion came from Richard James, Hiverano #79. Richard wrote: “Gentlemen: I find it very disturbing when I read of things like you have seen written (NOT authored) in this line of messages. At first I wondered if I had tuned in on conversation of another group. The behavior you have described on the part of some unnamed person is wrong, wrong, wrong! and not in accord with the original purposes of this organization. Purposes? To learn, to share, to teach, and to save this new knowledge with those to follow. What happens – and I saw this from the early days of AMM is: There are some persons who, when joining a group, begin to explore with their political ambitions. Group #2 are those who want to command either from an elevated political position or on an individual or group basis. Simply put – take away another persons decision making processes and force their own on that/those person(s). In any case this kind of thinking is immediate evidence such persons miss the intent of this organization. At the same time they would rob themselves and others of the higher delights that can come from the initially intended principles. Of course I am just describing reality and human nature. The best thing, it would seem, would be to not pay heed to the behavior of those in Group 2. Rather – keep aware of the intents listed in describing Group 1 personalities and build your own personal codes from this. Sounds easy? wrong? too complicated?? Try it if you are curious. Ignore it if you would rather. You have free agency to serve yourself. You ask WHY does this writer presume to qualify to give such information? Because I have recognized it from the very earliest days of AMM and seen it in action as it tore apart this fine organization not too many years ago. Maybe if the mood inspires to learn from past mistakes and not repeat them we may find ourselves to be a happier more positive achieving bunch of little chipmunks.
Good be ye
The point he makes here about political ambition is stunning. “Group #2 are those who want to command either from an elevated political position or on an individual or group basis. Simply put – take away another persons decision making processes and force their own on that/those person(s). In any case this kind of thinking is immediate evidence such persons miss the intent of this organization. At the same time they would rob themselves and others of the higher delights that can come from the initially intended principles.” This is exactly what has happened here in Colorado. When I was party clerk, I was asked to complete an annual report. Mr. B wanted this report before year end. His request included this line: “At a bare minimum, I at least need the volunteer hours reported for the parties.” I gave him the volunteer hours he asked for and as complete of a report as I was able. Yet in exercising his “power”, Brigade Booshway, Mr. B took away my decision making process and shorted our volunteer hours by 50 hours!
Although I have seen some problems within the American Mountain Men as noted above, I still feel the AMM are the finest group of men I have ever called my brothers. I have made many, many friends and I will join Richard James in ignoring those of Group #2.