Thursday, August 14, 2008

Running the Canyon at Flaming Gorge

There was only one stretch of Flaming Gorge, that we hadn't traveled, from Sheep Creek to the dam. This stretch has canyon walls that rise 1500 feet above the lake . So, as a last hurrah we drove to Sheep Creek Boat ramp and headed down the lake.
Joining us in our voyage of exploration were Pam and Roy, Renita's sister and brother in law. As we left the Sheep Creek bay we boated past a huge island, called Kingisher Island, alas we didn't see any Kingfishers. The water was green blue and clear as the we ran south. Protected from the wind, by the steep canyon walls, the lake was almost glassy and I increased the throttle as the canyon walls sped by.
Wider than the canyons at Yellowtail/Bighorn Lake, it was easy to open the boat to wide open throttle, but I resisted the urge so we could sightsee along the way.
The trip to the dam turned out to only be 15 miles so it took about half an hour to reach. Along the way we passed several boat camps, the Red Canyon Visitor center,( Perched on the canyon rim above), and nearing the dam the Ceder Creek Marina and Dutch John Campground. A boat was jigging macs and the angler in the bow glared at us as we passed, (I did slow down and gave him a wide berth, or at least as wide a berth as I could as we threaded our way past two islands. The depth finder read 418 feet as we neared the dam face. We were surprised, or at least I was, that there were no barriers to the dam. When we toured it earlier we had to go through airport like security,(the security gave Renita a hardtime as she had her diabetic kit with her).
After a brief cruise along the dam face we headed back upstream, passing Kingfisher Island, traveling through the lake cutoff and then headed down Horseshoe Canyon. There the speed limit is about 4 mph as its a wakefree area, so we serenely glided pass the shear canyon walls and ate lunch, marveling at the exposures of the aeolian deposited Navajo Sandstone. This four mile stetch took about an hour, but was probably the neatest and narrowest part of the canyon.
As we left the canyon storm clouds threatened, so we ran to the boat ramp where we quickly loaded, just missing getting caught in the rain. A fine day and a day of discovery in the spirit of John Wesley Powell. Clear skies.

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