Yampa River Raft Trip:



Day 2 - Thursday, May 23, 2002






We awoke to clearing skies and warming temperatures - Dee had said the stormy weather would blow through. We hadn’t believed him but now we gladly admitted he was right.
After breakfast and our morning “classes”, we headed up Big Joe Draw (also know as Starvation Canyon), that extended up, all the way to the canyon rim, from behind our camp. Yampa River Raft Trip: Evening Primrose on Beach at Big Joe's The hike consumed the entire morning - observing and studying rocks, flora and fauna. There were Crinoid fossils, mud-cracks, interesting birds and flowers and fresh bighorn droppings. Jeff caught a lizard and gave us all close-up looks. It seemed that we spent our time, almost to a point of frustration, running back and forth from one naturalist to another, afraid we would miss something of value. Yampa River Raft Trip: Dayhike up drainage at Big Joe's
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After the hike, we had lunch at Big Joe and then hit the rafts - for Big Joe’s Rapids. We jumped into Parker’s raft, with Jeff and several other guests. We only traveled 6 miles for the day, with most of it winding back and forth as the Yampa meandered like a snake. Geologically we were still surrounded primarily by Weber sandstone, with the Morgan formation occasionally rising out of the riverbank for a short time and then dipping back out of view.
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Mid-way along our 6-mile day, we stopped at a large park and hiked and climbed a short distance up to Signature Cave. Along the trail we were shown a rather large stand of an introduced plant (can’t remember the name), which has become a noxious weed in the area, much like the tamarisks that are taking over the wild riverbanks throughout the west. Signature Cave is named for its graffiti and signatures, including those of Buss Hatch and Pat Lynch. Dee related a story from his childhood about having had one of the Hatch sons (or brothers) as a schoolteacher. He also read us an excerpt about the colorful and eccentric life of Pat Lynch, who may have been the first white settler to the area back in the 1880’s.
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Yampa River Raft Trip: Dinosaur National Monument-looking out at the Yampa River valley from Signature Cave Yampa River Raft Trip: Yampa River Raft Trip: Yampa River Raft Trip:


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Back on the river, we rounded a final bend and turned into a cove-like area where the canyon walls formed a huge alcove and almost hung out over the river. This was our camp for the night - Mather’s Hole. What a spectacular place to camp!uring the happy hour, among other things, Dee and Emmett got into a geology discussion where they used a plastic relief map of the area to theorize and demonstrate the geologic upthrusts, depositions and erosions over time. They started by sprinkling sand on the map to completely fill in all of the relief indentations. Then they systematically shook some sand out of each area to demonstrate faults, earthquakes and erosion down through the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic ages, all the way to the present. After dinner Laura brought out her laptop and hooked up her sonar bat-tracking equipment. She was able to identify several species in the area but, although she set up 2 nets to catch specimens, she wasn’t able to net any before she gave up for the night.
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