Sunday, August 15, 2010

Busy Summer on the Western Slope

Things have been pretty busy here on the Western Slope. Cataract Canyon was navigated, a cardboard viking ship was built, the Gates of Lodore were navigated, a cardboard viking ship was raced on Ken's Lake, I found great new places to explore near the Book Cliff badlands where you can see many stars and lightning storms 80 miles away and there are ghost ranches and you can find black widow spiders underneath your sleeping pad in the morning...

... There was a river trip of suicidal "boy scout" Utahns impervious to reason or logic who completely ignored everything we told them and whose leaders took them to roll rocks off cliffs and start fires in violation of fire bans and who almost drowned in White's Rapid... Further proof that ideologies ostensibly designed to protect innocent youth from the evils of caffeine addiction, alcohol, and premarital fornication can actually place their adherents at greater risk for traumatic injuries as such people have no outlets for impulsive, energetic behavior. In this case, it is a few beleaguered river guides, BLM rangers, various squashed lizards and plants and cryptobiotic soil colonies, peoples of the third world to whom "missions" are dispatched, and anyone else unlucky enough to cross paths with such a group of sexually repressed spoiled teenagers raised on a diet of irresponsibility and wanton destructive impulses who must pick up the pieces and pay the price for damage inflicted...

The cardboard Viking Ship was finished, looked marveolous, and took first place at the first annual Cardboard Boat Regatta in Moab. Head to tail the thing was about 14' long and was constructed of several layers of cardboard, polyurethane, duct tape, and paint. The full story is to come but I must at least share one picture of this beauty in the water

Miles and miles of road were crossed and crisscrossed as I juggled my responsibilities as first mate of a viking crew, assistant river guide of a canoe outfitter, Utah river boat captain rent-a-guide, volunteer adaptive raft guide, private boater, explorer, and hostel kitchen guy. In the past two months there's been more remarkable experiences- many of which have been photographed as well- than I've had time to write about. Today I find myself in Durango, CO with the first relaxing morning I can remember in a while, and I can only begin to go through the backlog of photos. And there's still more geology and water use history I'm trying to read up on, a desolation canyon trip to plan, a proposed month of ghost town exploring to budget, oil that needs to be changed, etc... etc...

Maybe I will find time later this summer or in the fall to go over these stories in greater detail. Until then here are a few snapshots of what can be experienced in a summer on the Western Slope...

A hidden natural arch over a wash in the Morrison Formation just above the Gunnison River

A cave I explored

A sunset in the La Sal Mountains the day I summitted Mt Mellenthin, the second highest mountain on the Colorado Plateau, with Kate and Sarah from the Hostel

Some images of Cataract Canyon

(Campsite at Spanish Bottom just below the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers)

(rowing an oar raft through Cat)

(Cataract Canyon... the day we ran the rapids flash floods upstream had turned the water to chocolate orange)

Here's a few images from Gates of Lodore, more will be posted soon. Not very great pictures, as it is cameraphone quality...

Of course there can be costs to this great, wandering, transient lifestyle... I'm slightly over budgetted for where I'd like to be going into the fall, though I think I can be flexible to accomplish most goals. Running all over two states to guide trips is fun and well and gets me into great places and I get to do something meaningful with pretty interesting people, but business this year is not where it should be and a blow-out just cost me about $180 for two new tires and fresh oil I was due for anyways... and even though I drive under the limit the price of gas is a mighty painful cost for all this scenery. On the positive side there are winter employment prospects- always welcome. Still two or three months of good weather left where sleeping outside every night is pretty comfortable and the roads are unhindered by snow.

Soon to come: tales of Lodore, the Book Cliffs, the Victory of The Dark Crow at the 2010 Moab Cardboard boat race, Cataract- AGAIN, and.... ???

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