The following is a true story, only the names have been changed, to protect the guilty.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Past Due.... Part 2

When we awoke on Wednesday morning it was clouded over and soon the rain would start. This was actually a blessing since we were running low on water and the spring that we were planning on retrieving water from didn't look all that inviting. We all sat under a ledge near our camp and set cups and pans out so the water could drip into them from the overhang.

Look close , this ruin has two levels
 By the time we sufficiently boiled enough water to make the 6-7 mile hike out, the rain stopped. The hike out was great, we stopped at many ruins and had much more time than the previous day to thoroughly check them out. Once back at the van, we drove a while to get set up for the next day's adventure, but we still had a little more time for a quick little outing.

O'Neil  coming out of a kiva

AF inside  the kiva

for grinding down corn
 We saddled up our bikes and headed for Short Canyon. The bikes were necessary due to the roughness of the road used to access the canyon. True to it's name the section we did was short, but sweet. Towards the exit there was a nice panel to view before climbing to the canyon rim and back to the bikes. The sun was setting about the time we reached the rim and we arrived at camp around dusk. That evening we were able to build a small fire and relax for a short time before going to bed.

This water can sometimes be nasty

.As luck would have it, mother nature would not cooperate with us for the big day we had planned for ourselves., it was raining.  We had our sights set on Cheesebox Canyon, a long 8-9 hour day all down in the canyon. A flash flood was definitely possible and the ten mile bike ride on the primitive roads would have been hell. I'm not sure if the gang thought it would be possible to make the trek, but when I saw how muddy the parking spot/ camp was I started packing my shit to get the hell out of there immediately. My hope was Moab would be better, so we headed there. We arrived in mid afternoon, to our delight  it was sunny and hot. AF, O'Neil and my self would pack up our packrafts, ropes and harnesses for a multi-sport trip down the Medieval Chamber, Morning Glory Arch and paddle back to camp near Moonflower Canyon on the Colorado River.

Setting up for  Medieval and  Morning Glory

I'll let you figure this one out

Into the Medieval Chamber
Young Tim decided to ride his bike instead, still a great choice considering the multitude of fantastic trails in the area, it's Moab after all, it's almost impossible not to have fun doing something. It was perfect for us as well, he dropped us off at the top of the canyon on sand flats road and we met up at camp later. The trip down Medieval and Morning glory was just as awesome as the year before. After the long hike down Negro Bill Canyon we simply walked across the road to the river, aired up the boats and got in. Initially the current was fast and we were have a blast cruising through the riffles of the Colorado.  As we got closer to camp the last few miles were slow and a little headwind was making progress tough. We watched the sun set from our boats and the last rays of the day light up the La Sal's eastern slopes. We arrived at camp in the dark, Young Tim just happened to be near the bank of the river which helped us locate the campground on the other side of the tall vegetation. Once on land we had no time to waste. It was close to 9 o'clock and the three of us on the river were hungry and salivating at the thought of a large Mexican dinner. We quickly deflated the boats and drove to town for a hot meal.

Morning Glory Arch

Colorado River headed towards Moab 

Friday was our last day to play, it's always a somber thought knowing you have to head back to reality. The day before, the three of us got stalled out waiting for a guided group in front of us to complete the rappels. The guide was really cool and told us about another canyoneering trip that would fit into our time frame the next day. The name rang a bell with some of the info I had in "The Oracle" ( my messenger bag filled with maps) that I printed off the internet. Without really reading into the route we headed out. AF and I stuck together on this one while O'Neil and Young Tim hit the MTB trails. Rock of Ages  aka Pool Arch was a short lolly pop route with some big raps. We did a short ride down a sandy road, ditched the bikes and started heading up into a narrow weakness in the rock filled with vegetation. It was an absolutely beautiful day and the scenery was fantastic. I little ways in front of us was a guided canyoneering group, we didn't want to get suck behind them like the day before so we hustled up to the top of the first rappel in front of them. Upon setting up,  it was apparent that our 200' rope set as a double line was about 75 feet short.

Pool Arch

Long way down

Rap #2 about 60 feet
We now looked like a couple imbeciles to the guides who had just shown up. Right about that time I got my printed piece of paper and read in detail about the route.... hmmm ...says here we need 2  200 foot ropes..... ooops my bad. The guides were pretty cool and didn't laugh at least to our faces, they suggested we tie in to the anchors, drop a single line and they would disconnected it after we were down and throw the rope. With our tail's between our legs we did just that. The rap was awesome, my highest at about 175'. We were a little nervous now wondering if our rope was long enough for the last rap listed at a solid 100'. We had one 60 footer before the last rap that dropped us into a small pool....this one was fun. When we got to the final rap it was my turn to go first, AF and I alternate to share the danger of being the first one on the rope. Neither of us will do anything we think is too dangerous and will back shit up if we need to to feel safe, even if it means leaving protection behind (protection;  ie. webbing, nuts, etc.). On this route we did end up leaving webbing to lengthen our usable rope, which was not touching the ground when it was attached to the permanent anchors at the top of the drop. It was fun, but also the last one of the trip.
Last rap of the trip , 100 '

View from the bottom

The Oracle 
When I got back to the van I really, really did not want to leave. I dreamed of calling home, telling Lynn to pack up the boys and whatever else, and come out here to stay. When O'Neil and Young Tim got back to the van from their ride we packed up and headed for home. We stopped one last time in Fruita for quick ride on Horsethief  before driving through the night.        

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Past Due

Now that I'm less than two weeks away from a trip to Utah, I thought it might be time to share the rest of the  story and images of the trip my friends (ArcFlash, Young Tim, and O'Neil ) and I did in 2013. This trek to the desert southwest, in conjunction with the two previous ones, have been so profound that I find myself daydreaming about them almost daily. I did write about the first portion of our trip, packrafting down the Colorado River in Arizona and finding our way through the desert and back to our vehicle. This was a crazy idea pieced together from a 3-4 minute conversation with a Page AZ resident about kayaking in 2011, a brief description of a route to the Colorado River below the Glen Canyon Dam in an out of date guide book, hours spent on Google Earth, and the intractable desire to get to the bottom of the canyon. When we completed the loop I was in disbelief. I was also relieved since I had convinced three others to join me, and I didn't want to let them down.
First bit of swimming in Fry after a rappel 

Young Tim   on rope

I thought the ruins looked more intact from the bottom of the canyon, they weren't but interesting none the less

  Where I left off ..... The four of us driving late into the night (3 am)for our next leg of the adventure, canyoneering. When we woke the next morning after a terrible nights sleep (more of a nap) next to a road in the middle of nowhere we had a little more driving to do. Unfortunately it was raining a little and could potentially make the canyons dangerous...flash flood. We decided on Fry Canyon, ArcFlash and myself had done this one the year before. It was easy, and after the initial slots it opened up very wide making it what we thought would be safe, if the water came up unexpectedly.
We had to go back up the cliff 

These are the worn moki steps, barely visible and marginal for a safe accent to the top. I might add that just below is a 50-60 foot drop and we had to go up from this point another 50' or so

getting ready to drop in to Duckett, note streaks of rain in the photo

O'Neil rapping off a chock-stone, looks scary but it's solid

AF in his element
  Fry Canyon went without incident and was a good warm up for our group. When we were there the previous year, AF and I noted a large ruin tucked under a ledge that was visible on the way down canyon. We were unable to access it at that date but I was determined to reach it this time around. It was a very scary endeavor smearing down the steeply sloped slab high above the canyon floor to the almost non-existent moki steps. Moki steps are basically depressions/steps carved into the rock. These ancient ruins are still something that blows my mind and to think I was using the very same steps people used a thousand years ago was surreal.  Headed back to the van the sun was shining now and we all enjoyed an easy stroll and a hot lunch shortly after.

We rode our bikes down a rough road the van would not be able to manage to get to Powell. With nothing to lock them to, we locked them together 

bath time

  Waiting out more rain, we were not able to do much until the late afternoon. We decided on Duckett Slot due to the relatively short amount of time it would take to complete. This little slot was fantastic! It had a lot to offer in such a short distance of less than a half mile, several rappels, down climbing, stemming, swimming, and wading. The next morning, Monday the 6th, we were greeted with more rain, this was really disappointing. We came to canyoneer and the only thing that could really stop us was rain in the form of flash flooding. Later in the afternoon we would be driving and setting up for an overnight backpack trip. This meant our window of opportunity for a morning canyoneering trip was not going to be possible. Not wanting to waste any of our precious time we decided to drive a short distance to Lake Powell and mess around in the packrafts. This turned out to be a really fun  although short. As luck would have it the sun came out and shown brightly, taunting us, as we took turns jumping off large rocks on the shoreline and swimming around like a bunch of otters.
This scene of gear sprawled out in preparation of a change in discipline would repeat it's self throughout the trip. Everyone always worked fast and would be packed and ready in about 30 minutes  for the next undertaking 

Bike shuttle 

First ruin encountered down &^%$#* Canyon

Hard to believe this ceiling/roof is like a thousand years old , complete with knots tied in some sort of grass

   By mid afternoon it was go time for another van ride, gear change, bike shuttle set-up and our overnight backpack trip. Just before 6 pm were on the ground hiking, towards our camp some 5 to 6 miles away. We stopped numerous times to marvel at many ancient ruins ,wishing we could stay just a little longer at each one. It was nearly dark when we reached our predetermined goal. We setup camp in the fading light and enjoyed a hot meal however simple it was.
This seams like it would be a good place to live 1000 years ago

This place was really cool, could have stayed for a long time but it was getting dark and we had to move on

Camp,   not a flat spot in the place big enough for the smallest tent , much less 3 of them

Granary above camp

  AF and I climbed high above the camp after dinner to check out a granary that was hauntingly visible from camp. The small opening in the rock and mud structure faced our direction and every few seconds I found myself glancing up to it, thinking I would see someone in the opening. Obviously there was no one there, but this place has an energy about it that makes you feel like you have moved back in time to when it was inhabited. AF and I descended in the dark back to camp, spending a while longer chatting amongst our group and reminiscing about the events of the last few days before going to sleep.