CHAPTER VII. JIMMY GOES OVER THE MOUNTAIN
Our two and a half hours' dash through the fourteen miles of rapid water in Whirlpool Canyon put us in a joyful frame of mind. Rapid after rapid was left behind us without a pause in our rowing, with only a hasty survey standing on the deck of the boats before going over. Others that were free from rocks were rowed in bow first, the big waves breaking over our boats and ourselves. We bailed while drifting in the quiet stretches, then got ready for the next rapids. Two large rapids only were looked over from the shore and these were run in the same manner. We could hardly believe it was true when we emerged from the mountain so quickly into a little flat park or valley sheltered in the hills. This was Island or Rainbow Park, the latter name being suggested by the brilliant colouring of the rocks, in the mountains to our left. Perhaps the form of the rocks themselves helped a little, for here was one end of the rainbow of rock which began on the other side of the mountains. Jagged-edged canyons looking almost as if their sides had been rent asunder came out of these mountains. There was very little dark red here except away on top, 2300 feet above, where a covering of pines made a soft background for light-cream and gorgeous yellow-coloured pinnacles, or rocky walls of pink and purple and delicate shades of various hues. Large cottonwoods appeared again along the river banks, in brilliant autumn colours, adding to the beauties of the scene. Back from the river, to the west, stretched the level park, well covered with bunch-grass on which some cattle grazed, an occasional small prickly pear cactus, and the ever present, pungent sage. Verdure-covered islands dotted the course of the stream, which was quiet and sluggish, doubling back and forth like a serpent over many a useless mile. Nine miles of rowing brought us back to a point about three miles from the mouth of Whirlpool Canyon; where the river again enters the mountain, deliberately choosing this course to one, unobstructed for several miles, to the right.
The next gorge was Split Mountain Canyon, so named because the stream divided the ridge length-wise, from one end to the other. It was short, only nine miles long, with a depth of 2700 feet in the centre of the canyon. Three miles of the nine were put behind us before we camped that evening. These were run in the same manner as the rapids of Whirlpool, scarcely pausing to look them over, but these rapids were bigger, much bigger. One we thought was just formed or at least increased in size by a great slide of rock that had fallen since the recent rains. We just escaped trouble in this rapid, both boats going over a large rock with a great cresting wave below, and followed by a very rough rapid. Emery was standing on top of a fifteen-foot rock below the rapid when I went over, and for a few moments could see nothing of my boat, hardly believing it possible that I had come through without a scratch. These rapids with the high water looked more like rapids we had seen in the Grand Canyon, and were very unlike the shallow water of a week previous. We had only travelled a half day, but felt as if it had been a very complete day when we camped at the foot of a rock slide on the right, just above another big rapid.
On Thursday, October 5, Camp No. 20 was left behind. The rapid below the camp was big, big enough for a moving picture, so we took each other in turns as we ran the rapid. More rapids followed, but these were not so large. A few sharp-pointed spires of tinted rock lifted above us a thousand feet or more. Framed in with the branches of the near-by cottonwood trees, they made a charming picture. Less than three hours brought us to the end of Split Mountain Canyon, and the last bad water we were to have for some time. Just before leaving the canyon, we came to some curious grottos, or alcoves, under the rock walls on the left shore. The river has cut into these until they overhang, some of them twenty-five feet or over. In one of these was a beaver lying on a pile of floating sticks. Although we passed quite close, the beaver never moved, and we did not molest it.
Another shower greeted us as we emerged into the Uinta Valley as it is called by the Ute Indians. This valley is eighty-seven miles long. It did not have the fertileness of Brown's Park, being raised in bare rolling hills, runnelled and gullied by the elements. The water was quiet here, and hard rowing was necessary to make any progress. We had gone about seven miles when we spied a large placer dredge close to the river. To the uninitiated this dredge would look much like a dredging steamboat out of water, but digging its own channel, which is what it really does.
Great beds of gravel lay on either side of the river and placer gold in large or small quantities, but usually the latter is likely to exist in these beds. When a dredge like the one found here is to be installed, an opening is made in the river's bank leading to an excavation which has been made, then a large flatboat is floated in this. The dredging machinery is on this float, as well as most of the machinery through which the gravel is passed accompanied by a stream of water; then with quicksilver and rockers of various designs, the gold is separated from the gravel and sand.