10 Entertaining Days on Lake Powell - JFR's journal from 2010

JFRCalifornia

Escalante-Class Member
With all this talk swirling around about declining lake levels and uncertain launch ramps, I thought I'd lighten it up a bit, and let you in on one of my more interesting past trips to Lake Powell, that being in 2010. An entertaining adventure to say the least. It had a little bit of everything, maybe even too much of everything--great hikes, getting stranded on one of those hikes after dark and sleeping overnight on the walkway at Rainbow Bridge, some very "interesting" characters and conflicts, and to top it all off, an adventure with the greywater tank... We covered everything from Wahweap to the end of the Escalante... It was also a long trip--10 days--which meant that for better or worse, we'd all have to get along... and with two newbies in the group with very different ways of seeing things (and who didn't know each other beforehand), let's just say that was going to be a challenge... And my job, as it usually is, was to figure out how to make this all work...

But for all that, it was one of the more memorable trips I've ever been on...

Here's a link:

 

nzaugg

Well-Known Member
I always love your travelogues! I'm just curious if Scott and Ben ever joined in together again. We always go as family and know each other so well we don't have the cyclic mood issue come up very often. The worst it ever got was when I lost my cool at the brother-in-law who dropped the anchors lines on the boat without really telling me with two boats on the back and about 10 feet of clearance on either side of the boat. I couldn't start the engines to stabilize things because the lines were sitting in the water and a breeze was pushing me into all the rocks. After receiving the first scolding for curse words I have had in a long time, we fixed the situation. I would love to go on one of your adventure hikes though. Everyone in our group is too content to stay in one place, play behind the boat, and eat too much food. Perhaps when we are a little older.
 

JFRCalifornia

Escalante-Class Member
I always love your travelogues! I'm just curious if Scott and Ben ever joined in together again. We always go as family and know each other so well we don't have the cyclic mood issue come up very often. The worst it ever got was when I lost my cool at the brother-in-law who dropped the anchors lines on the boat without really telling me with two boats on the back and about 10 feet of clearance on either side of the boat. I couldn't start the engines to stabilize things because the lines were sitting in the water and a breeze was pushing me into all the rocks. After receiving the first scolding for curse words I have had in a long time, we fixed the situation. I would love to go on one of your adventure hikes though. Everyone in our group is too content to stay in one place, play behind the boat, and eat too much food. Perhaps when we are a little older.
Thanks--I enjoy writing them. Sometimes people in the group challenge my account of things, and so I tell them--write your own. Which they never do.

And good question about Scott and Ben--Scott has been back to Lake Powell, but not Ben. He might be open to it, but knows he was sort of a fish out of water and is okay with not going back.

Yes, compatibility of any group is the most important factor to having a good time. And by "compatibility", it doesn't necessarily mean having common interests, or even similar personalities or approaches to issues. It mostly means "I can deal with uncertainty, and I trust that you can too". That is the key to everything--if you have just one person who can't handle adversity, or bad weather, or being dirty for a week, or not knowing what's going to happen that day, the whole group dynamic is thrown off. And so in the case of our group, I should have known better, because my one friend--much as I think highly of him--lacks that key quality. And boy did that make a difference in a small group. A sense of humor helps too. At one point, when we were deep in the Escalante, my friend demanded that we go back to Wahweap right away. He was serious. And of course I said "No, we're not doing that. We have five more days, and are 80 miles from the marina. Instead, you are going to calm down, and if you have nothing productive to say, remain quiet. Sleep. Float on the lake. I don't care. But you will not ruin this trip. Period." And then I told any other instigators on the boat who liked to get a rise out of him to back off, leave him alone. I only had to say those things once. All was better after that.

Live and learn. Based on that experience, there are certain friends I will just not invite to Lake Powell, as much as I might like them. And on the other hand, there are other friends who I know would never choose to go to Lake Powell, but something about the way they are tells me that they would love it. And so I invite them. And when they go, they love it.

Over the years that's the only trip where some fundamental conflict has happened, and there's been dozens of people who I've gone with to Lake Powell over the last 30 years or so.

As for the idea that some groups are content to float and eat, that's fine. I learned that you can't count on a big group to do a good hike. It's always just 1 or 2 in my group who are consistently committed to doing those kinds of things, and it's better that way, but of course I tell the rest they're missing out. And they don't care. I set a time--let's say 8 AM--and that's when we go. No lingering around waiting for stragglers to join in.... or else it never happens...
 

nzaugg

Well-Known Member
Reading your story, I could tell early on that you saw the storm brewing. Unfortunately, a 10 day trip makes it difficult to avoid that kind of conflict. It seems you did a nice job of helping everyone recover when the bomb went off.

Unfortunately for me, our new ski boat is a inboard surf boat and we are so paranoid about hitting that prop underneath the boat beaching for hikes seems like a taboo these days. I have been wistfully looking for runabouts capable of getting me to good hiking spots so I can have some of my own top-of-rock adventures. Usually I will hike from the front of the boat or take a paddle board to an accessible spot near the houseboat, but it doesn't allow me to do something like your top of tapestry wall hike, which I really want to do someday. We have hiked into the Defiance House ruins several times in different water levels, but it rarely seems like I can convince anyone that a hike is worth doing just so you can get through something challenging and instead there must be a worthwhile "destination." On top of that, as hard as I try I can't convince the other interested parties to take a trip south of Halls. It's always Moki to Cedar for the spots. One day I will just drive the boat where I want it to go and there we will camp!
 

JFRCalifornia

Escalante-Class Member
Reading your story, I could tell early on that you saw the storm brewing. Unfortunately, a 10 day trip makes it difficult to avoid that kind of conflict. It seems you did a nice job of helping everyone recover when the bomb went off.

Unfortunately for me, our new ski boat is a inboard surf boat and we are so paranoid about hitting that prop underneath the boat beaching for hikes seems like a taboo these days. I have been wistfully looking for runabouts capable of getting me to good hiking spots so I can have some of my own top-of-rock adventures. Usually I will hike from the front of the boat or take a paddle board to an accessible spot near the houseboat, but it doesn't allow me to do something like your top of tapestry wall hike, which I really want to do someday. We have hiked into the Defiance House ruins several times in different water levels, but it rarely seems like I can convince anyone that a hike is worth doing just so you can get through something challenging and instead there must be a worthwhile "destination." On top of that, as hard as I try I can't convince the other interested parties to take a trip south of Halls. It's always Moki to Cedar for the spots. One day I will just drive the boat where I want it to go and there we will camp!
I hear you. Next time, you should dictate terms to your group and go where you want to go. You're missing out on some great (and boat-accessible) hikes if you don't go south of Halls. And if your crew needs a "destination", how about the remnant "lake" in Iceberg Canyon? Or Bechan Cave in Bowns Canyon? Or some good pictographs in Reflection Canyon? Or a nice waterfall in Davis Gulch? Or just the fact that you're in a great place wherever you are?

As for the Tapestry Wall hike, I think the landing is usually pretty forgiving on the back end of a boat--a pretty steep slope to a little beach, in one of those small inlets just south of the Wall, directly across from Knowles Canyon. Of course, when I've gone on that hike, the lake has been over 3600, but just the same, I think you could do it even at low levels. But that's just a guess.

Lots of good hikes at Powell have pretty forgiving landings, but not all of them. And occasionally you run into mudflats, logs or debris. And for those, I land early, put stuff in a big dry bag, and swim through the muck to get to dry land. It's never very far. And in those cases, you're pretty much guaranteed to be the only ones on the trail...
 
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