Published: August 5th 2007July 26th 2007
Another mega entry, as we have been unable to get wi-fi since Moab. here goes....
Day 12, 7/17
Once again we get an early start on the day. Our first stop is, once again, Park Avenue. This time, Bill, Kate and I hike the 1 mile one way trail to Court House Towers where Bowen awaits us in Lurch. Following our strategy to get to the longest hikes first, we head next to Devil’s Garden and walk the trail as far as Landscape Arch. Fabulous! Next, we stop at the overlook to the Firey Furnace. This area requires a permit to enter, as it is a maze of unmarked, difficult to scramble trails. The Park service highly recommends a guided tour, which Bill was keen to take. Sadly, my decrepit knees rule this out, so we confine ourselves to easier trails such as that to the Windows. Here the views, the rocks, the landscape are all amazing.
Once the heat comes up by noon, we head back to the hotel to relax and rest up for our big river trip on Wednesday.
Day 13, 7/18
Rafting West Water canyon - Oh do we have stories to tell!
There are faces in the rock everywhere
In 1973 my father took me salmon fishing on a charter boat out of Westport, Washington. As we were setting out from the harbor, all the fishermen threw a dollar into a pool, to be split three ways: first fish, biggest fish, and most fish caught.
Setting out on our Colorado River Westwater Canyon run, we should have put a pool together for paddlers falling out of the boat. While I missed the first swim by only a fraction of a second, I clearly won biggest swim, and most swims!
Ignorance is truly blissful when running class three and four rapids on the Colorado. Our guide Brian, a student from Florida State University, was in his second year of commercial rafting on the Colorado. His assurances of experience and skill rang false in the end, but in our bliss we had quite the adventure.
“Swimming class four rapids” is an oxymoron. Out of the boat you can only ride class four rapids. After I swallowed a mouthful of Colorado, I remembered Brian’s instructions to only breathe when I could see air.
Remarkably I was able to hang on to my paddle both times I went out of the boat.
You dropped the car keys where?
However it is challenging to swim while holding a paddle.
Seeing the top of Dana’s head level with the water surface after she went out of the boat would have been more disconcerting if I had not been instantly sucked out by the river in the opposite direction. All I knew was that at least three of us had left the boat in The Funnel, and I was the farthest from the boat.
Seeing the top of Kate’s head level with the water surface next to me may have played a small factor in falling out right after and next to her at the bottom of Skull rapids. As Bowen swiftly hauled her back in the boat, I helped boost her up from below from my grip on the “O.S.” line. The O.S. line rings the perimeter of the boat, O.S. for the thought you have going over the side, “Oh, s---!”
A more senior guide admonished Brian later for taking us through The Funnel, because the river level was too low for that route choice.
We were the only clients to request a paddle raft, as the balance of the folks passively rode oar boats rowed by a single
Pine Tree Arch
guide. The only volunteer to join us, to round up our crew, was a Southern Cracker named Wes. He knew everything, was an “expert” paddler from canoeing in his native Florida, and had the inability to keep a steady cadence in his role as bowman on the port side. One sign of Brian’s inexperience was that he allowed Wes to remain in the bow after his deficiencies became apparent.
Despite all this, Wes was a colorful character. He trotted off at lunch break to pan for gold, and he smoked downwind.
After the final rapid, it was recognized that Bowen was the only client who remained in the raft through all the rapids. He wisely recognized us putting down our paddles to toss him over and quickly slipped over the side on his own volition.
RIVER RAFTING IS SCARY!!!!! Do not go on any river rafting trip with class 4 rapids in it unless your plan on bringing your snorkel! Colorado River rafting was fun at first, but O…M…G… We were all in a paddle boat as apposed to an oar boat, which meant WE were the ones rowing and paddling. The other 2 guys with us
were Brian, our guide, and Wes, some adventure crazed, cigarette smokin’, crazy old guy maybe around 65. He was really nice though.
Here’s a time line of my experience:
1. get on bus
2. read for two hours on the bus
7. get in raft
8. float gently downstream while barely listening to rules and conversations
9. reach small rapids
12. notice the one of the oar boat groups found an inflatable dummy, now named “Mr. Stud”
13. repeat 9-11
14. attempt to steal Mr. Stud
16. stop for lunch
17. make allies
18. allies attempt to steal Mr. Stud
19. I help
20. we fail
21. make experimental sandwich
22. YUM!!! Pickles, onions, ham and mustard does taste good!
23. set off again
24. rapids that make you go “AAAAHHHHHH!!!! WE’RE DOOMED!!!!!!”
25. went through several fun rapids
27. went through “funnel”. West’s foot slipped, he fell, hit my mom, they went over the side, so did dad, bo grabbed them all, bo freaked out when Wes didn’t want to get back in the boat.
28. stopped for a break
Bill & Kate on the North Window
that we weren’t supposed to go through funnel, and we were lucky we didn’t flip.
31. went through “skull”. Went in the wrong way, got stuck on a rock, freed ourselves, STILL went through the wrong way, made it out alive
32. Stopped again, some passing fishermen cheered us, saying they thought we were gonna flip ‘r somthin’!
33. man, we’re not doing too well yet…
34. a few bigger rapids
35. oh crap!
36. nearly flip in “bowling alley”. Dad and I fall out, I can’t see, I can’t breathe, I reach the surface. Is that the raft? Where’s the O.S. rope? I can’t find it! Is that a rock? O.S.!!!! I’m going right towards it! O.S. rope!!! O.S. rope!!! O.S. rope!!! ITS GONE!!! (If you don’t understand, I fell out right next to the raft, couldn’t find the O.S., (Oh Sh*t!) rope, was about to crash into a rock.) What’s that on my arm? Bo!!! Bo pulled me up, while my dad, thus far unnoticed, pushed me from behind. I made it back in, soon followed by dad.
37. I start to feel scared-sick.(not nauseous)
38. Oh…We better not be going in that…
39. we are?!?!
More great rocks
40. oh good, we’re only going in the side of that…Right?
41. we made it without any tipping
42. forced Bo to jump out of the raft because he didn’t fall out.
43. got back to shore, rode home, and I played on the computer.
Actually, I think you get the picture, so I'll just add that Brian pointed out the cave where Butch Cassidy set up a counterfeiting operation until the local law tracked him and blasted him out.
The day on the river ended with a somewhat painful, hot, long ride back into town, but we knew that the ride would fade, and our time on the river would live on.
Day 14, 7/19 Mile 2413
Moab to Mesa Verde today. We’re so glad to have put this destination into the loop. Seeing these ancient structures close at hand, and knowing that so much of the culture of these cliff dwellers has been lost, ignites the imagination. We toured Cliff Palace with a ranger guide and eagerly asked questions. The thunder showers that swept by during the tour demonstrated the amazing protection offered by the cliff overhangs. Perpetual seeps formed by the layering of
Bill & Kate
sandstones over shale provided water for these agricultural communities. The stone housing stays cool in the heat and warm in the winter.
It’s cooler here at 8200 feet, than in Moab, (104!), so our evening in the campground is quite pleasant. More thundershowers don’t phase us, as we smart Seattlites have a rain shelter!
Day 15, 7/20 Mile 2590
Mesa Verde to Grand Canyon, south Rim, via Monument Valley.
Making good time today, Bill and I are lured into an intriguing side trip… ever heard of the Moki Dugway? Check it out!
Monument Valley - it all seems so familiar, but with more grandeur in person that on the screen of countless movie westerns and automobile commercials. This portion of our trip includes treasure hunting in the Navajo craft markets: some cheap junk, but mostly beautiful stone & sterling.
Finally - the Grand Canyon. As I head to the El Tovar to register, I send the kids to the edge for a look. After less than a minute they’re back - bored. Immune to wonder, but we try.
We will be on the south rim for just one night, then make the drive to the north, where
we have a log cabin for three nights. It’s been a great day and we look forward to a late start tomorrow, the get-up early prize derby suspended for a day.
Day 16, 7/21 Mile 2937
This is the same drive I made two years ago when I accompanied Jan & Mark & friends to the canyon for their monster hike. They left from the Bright Angel trail on the south rim, crossed the canyon, and came up the North Kaibob trail on the north side IN ONE DAY! I drove around to meet them. This is one of the experiences that inspired me to push for this trip. Great drive, gorgeous scenery, changing terrain, knock-out destination. Thanks for the exposure guys!
The log cabins are cozy and lovely. We arrive with plenty of time for Bill and me to practice for our Golden Years on the front porch rockers. The kids settle in to their electronics, once again oblivious to the surroundings, happy. At bit later, while Bill performs his manly duties with the BBQ, I wander down to the view terrace of the lodge for the sunset. I stand watching the colors intensify, the ponderosa pines black
Swimming, on purpose
in silhouette against the glowing sky, rising in the foreground above the rim. I feel the decompression meter drop by degrees as I breathe in the pine scented night and listen to the hushed conversations in multiple world languages of couples, families and travelers, all sharing this moment.
Day 17, 7/22
We take it easy and cruise the views. A fancy dinner in the lodge is a highlight.
Up early for our most ambitious hike, we take on part of the North Kaibob Trail. The descent is steep, with relentless switchbacks, so Kate and I elect to begin our return just past the Supia Tunnel. Bill and Bo eye the foot bridge 800 feet below, and the cliff-hugging path beyond it and continue. It’s fun to see the mule wranglers and their customers going by, but Kate deeply desires to be one instead of her own feet.
Once we’re all back at the cabin, the afternoon thundershowers begin in earnest. We’re all tired and in need of quiet time, so we enjoy the rain we’re being accused of having brought with us. (A common question to all tourists in the national parks is “Where are
A view from the river
you from?” Seattle is universally thought of as that place where it always rains).
Day 19, 7/24 Mile 3226
Our journey continues today from the North Rim to Bryce Canyon. After one short detour to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State park, just north of Kanab, Ut., (yes, it’s very lovely sand, but we all agree it’s more of an orange color), we arrive in Bryce Canyon. Afternoon thunderstorms are still threatening, so we set up camp before hiking. This proves to be a wise decision.
Our late afternoon stroll of Bryce is magical. This place is unspeakably unique and beautiful. In the afternoon light the colors blow me away. I become annoying in my repetitive exclamations - I just can’t help myself.
Once we get back to camp, Bill & Bo drive to the national Forest for firewood. Our dinner plan is once again roasted hot dogs, but just as Bill tries to start the fire, the thunder and lightning descend at close range. Our peaceful campsite shrinks to the size of the semi-dry patch of picnic table space under our rain canopy, (dubbed the ‘circus tent’ by our neighbors for our colorful streamers). The lightning is nearly overhead
O.K., we're done - no camera during the rapids!
- the thunder seems to shake the earth, and our tent is now, as Bowen remarks, a ‘riverside bedroom’. We are determined to ride out and enjoy our mountain gully-washer. By some stroke of weird luck, Bill bought a can of lighter fluid just days before. Although strictly prohibited by the instructions so thoughtfully provided on the side of the can, lighter fluid is liberally and repeatedly applied to an open flame, in hopes of avoiding a complete drowning of the dinner fire. We shake our fists, everything gets muddy, but we persevere in our huddle and last out the storm. So does our fire. In celebration, Bill selects Aaron Copeland’s ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ for our dinner music. We feel triumphant! (Though no one else in the campground sees our success, as they are all huddling sensibly inside their cars and campers).
Day 20, 7/25
This is the day we have chosen for our make-up trail ride. Despite last night’s wild weather, the morning is absolutely perfect! Everyone is so excited for our 2 hour ride through the canyon. Just look at the photos. It was fantastic! Amazingly, about 15 minutes after our ride is over, the
Mesa Verde 1
In Spruce tree House
rain is back. However, we don’t care as we set out for Zion
So here I am, in the Canyon Ranch Motel in Zion, (a very pretty spot), catching you all up while I have internet access. Take care everyone.
There are more photos below