Edit Blog Post
Published: March 27th 2019
We had launched and rigged up the boat shortly after we arrived at the Wahweep Campground. We had been prepared to see that the lake was low, as I keep track of it from a website, but we were still shocked to see it in person. This is a different body of water from our St Lawrence, where a 2 foot variance in the level with bring on howls of protest from all around. Lake Powell this year is a stunning 43’ lower than it was when we were here just last March!
We had been amazed by the length of the ramp then, now it must have been 100 yards longer, maybe more. There are a lot of ramps on Lake Powell, but now only two are useable.
Even worse for us, the “Antelope Island Cut” was dry, and several feet above current water level. This would lengthen our planned voyage to Labyrinth Canyon by quite a few miles. That makes a big difference when you can only cover 8 miles in an hour.
We checked the weather carefully to see what day would be best for our adventure. None of the next 3 days looked that
great, either there was cold with a chance of rain, or high winds. It was getting time to think about getting home and back to work, so we couldn’t wait forever. So we chose the next day, it was supposed to be windy, but mostly clear and not too cold.
We left the landing at about 10 AM, any earlier and it would have been very cold, we needed some warm sun on us. The wind was light, and the water calm as we made our way south towards the Glen Canyon Dam, then east as we followed the carved rock meanders of the old Colorado River channel.
Our motor ran perfectly, as it has every time we’ve used it. I like this new 4 stroke Tohatsu, it is incredibly fuel efficient, and pretty quiet. Being a single cylinder, it shakes a bit, but the only thing I really struggle with is it’s sound. No, it’s not too loud, it’s just the way it sounds — Well, it sounds like a Briggs & Stratton. It makes you feel like you should be mowing the lawn, not going for a boat ride.
Labyrinth Canyon is the nearest spot
to our campsite that offers slot canyon hiking, but without being able to use the cut, it would be the best part of 20 miles, each way for us to get there. It was cloudier than the forecast had predicted, and even though we were bundled up, it was cold. I was comfortable enough, with the exception of my feet. I had worn my old “get wet” sneakers so we could push off from the beach, and now, with my wet feet on the boat bottom, they were getting numb.
I took about 2-1/4 hrs to reach our objective. The twisting canyon was hard to see, but we slowly found our way into it. The channel split in places, and it was not always obvious which was the main lead. At one point we went the wrong way, and the twisting sandstone opening closed in to the point that the boat nearly got jammed.
The slot was so narrow here that you could spread your arms and touch both sides at once. The walls were smooth, and they rose maybe 20 feet above us. It was quite unlike anything else we’ve seen.
So I put the ideling
motor into reverse, and we began to back out. It was then that I noticed that the engine sounded rough, and I felt that old, sick feeling in my mechanics gut — we were a long way from salvation if the motor quit. Cathy didn’t seem to notice, but as we continued on back in the main channel, I had to go a little faster to keep the engine happy.
We came around another twist and the narrow canyon suddenly opened, and there pulled up on a little sand beach was a large outboard powered RIB and a whole bunch of kayaks. It was a guide, who had brought a party in there to explore the slots in those little boats. We were quite surprised to see them, as we had maybe seen only two or three boats on the water since we had started.
The guide, probably surprised to see us, and maybe a little peeved that we were invading his domain, yelled at us that this was a “no wake canyon”.
Well, excuse me! We were probably throwing up a huge three inch swell at the time, it’s a wonder that any of the kayakers survived.
Admonished, I slowed back it idle speed. We went maybe another twisty couple hundred yards or so, and the engine coughed and quit. Oh — shit....
I gave it a couple of spirited yanks on the cord, without response. I could smell gas, and see some on the water. (It’s a good thing Captain Kayak didn’t see that, he’d have no doubt clapped me in irons right there.)
Cathy was surprisingly cool and calm, and said that “we can always row back”. Sure, I thought, nothing could be more fun than a brisk 20 mile row.
So I opened my boat box and got out some tools. I pulled the spark plug and it was both black and wet. I suspected that something was stuck in the carb needle, causing the bowl to overflow. The thought of removing the carb a tearing it down out here in the wilderness with only rudimentary tools was, well, unattractive. So, instead I unhooked the fuel line and just started pulling on the starter.
After a bit, I could feel it starting to fire, and then it finally stumbled a bit, and then ran. I found that it would run OK with the gas turned off, until it started to sputter as it ran out. So that’s how we ran it back out of the canyon, briefly turning the valve on, then off — repeat.
Needless to say, thoughts of landing and hiking the higher slots were now gone, we were in “self-rescue” mode. I did insist however (over objections) that we land and eat our lunch. We found a nice red-sandy beach and pulled up. After our sandwiches, we both spent some time walking the shoreline. It was fun thinking that all this was as much as 40 feet underwater just last year.
We both hope we might find some valuables lost overboard in the past, and we did, but nothing we can retire on I’m afraid.
After that we got back in the boat, and with a little trepidation we gave the cord a yank. It started right up, and away we went. As I hoped, the motor ran fine at high speed, and it didn’t miss a single beat for the whole ride home.
So again, we didn’t get to hike a slot canyon, but we spent a whole day boating on one of the most fantastic bodies of water in the country, maybe the world — no complaints here.
When we got back to the launch ramp, I walked up to the campsite and got the truck. We packed up the boat and equipment one more time, the last for this trip, and got ready for heading home. We do have one more stop to make though. We plan to stop at Taos NM on our way east. We haven’t been there since we visited there on our honeymoon, 35 years ago. We loved the place then, and we hope to find that it’s still much the same.
Tot: 2.798s; Tpl: 0.044s; cc: 12; qc: 58; dbt: 0.0401s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb