San Juan River - Sand Island to Mexican Hat - 10/23

Was 0 for 4 for the scheduled permit lotteries but managed to reserve an October 4th cancellation permit for 2 people. At the same time Mark Jibilian picked up a trip cancellation via Rec.Gov for Oct 7th. We were each planning a solo trip but vehicle issues resulted in my permit cancellation. So I joined Mark on a two-boat, two-person trip launching on the 7th. It was a minimalistic no frills/no hikes straight through float. For a change, absolutely no winds with the temps somewhere around the low eighties for the days and high thirties for the night times.

The ranger implied that Sand Island could well be full and neither of us are fond of the campground. Butler Wash is my preference over our usual alternative of Lime Ridge Road. The spur trailhead for the Wolfman Panel was empty and worked just fine for the pre-launch campsite. We were both expecting pleasant mid-forties for a low and were rudely surprised at how cold we got. Did not make that mistake afterwards as we dressed warmer and setup the tents.

Mark carried essentially all the communal gear in his raft while I took a rare IK trip down the canyon. That brought back memories of a more simplistic time where rigging a boat did not take all morning. Thought that a back or butt ache would be a given, but actually was comfortable the entire trip. It did lower the boating confidence level though. If feeling pretty arrogant about boating skills, you can always try a smaller boat.

As usual, Valerie Lee (435-669-3592) ran the shuttle which has increased to $100 but she does such an exemplary job that it is a no-brainer for a one vehicle trip. For future trips, we will request the vehicle be moved to Valles a day early. Competition for the last couple campsites meant we likely would have gone out a day early if the vehicle had been available. Below Mexican Hat worked out but that was a pretty small camp.

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