Sunday, August 31, 2008

Outdoor adventures, part one.

I'm sorry it has been so long--this is the first time we have been in a place with any internet service since the last time we posted! We have done so much in that time, I don't know where to start. So I'm going to do this in several parts, hopefully make the task slightly less daunting.

When we last left you, we were in Flagstaff, Arizona, wondering what to do next. We wanted to stay in several national parks, including the Grand Canyon, Zion, a few days on Lake Powell, but we weren't sure the order in which we should do them, and most importantly, what we would do with Chaco. We still hadn't really decided by the time we left, so we just picked a place (Lake Powell it turned out), and took the dog with us!

Lake Powell straddles Utah and Arizona (they are in two different time zones right now, which is incredibly confusing) and is the 2nd largest man-made reservoir in the US. John Wesley Powell originally discovered the area, which was then a series of impressive canyons, and fought hard against the prospect of damming the Colorado to make it a lake. In fact, he was one of the earliest environmentalists in the country. In 1956, construction began to dam the river anyway and somebody thought it would be funny to name the lake after the man who didn't want it there.

Anyway, it is absolutely beautiful and we wanted to kayak on it. So we got to Page, Arizona in the afternoon on Saturday and tried to rent a second kayak (John bought a single 17' expedition kayak before we left Richmond, so we only needed one...). Our restrictions were a bit tough- we wanted something long so I could keep up with john, but it needed to be a sit-on-top and somewhat wide so Chaco could ride on it too. It took the whole afternoon to find one, and the one we found wasn't great, but it would float. The next step was seeing how Chaco would do. So we put his PFD on him, and got him in the back of the kayak....for about 3 minutes. Then he decided he didn't want to be there anymore, so he jumped out, thus flipping the kayak and sending me diving.

Skipping ahead a day, a dozen more tries, and many more frustrations....we are gracefully gliding through a canyon, Chaco sleeping peacefully between john's legs on the sit-on-top, while I am trying to read a map that bears no resemblance to the topography around us. The drought over the past decade has lowered the level of the lake by 30+ feet and drastically changed the shape of the shoreline. We never found the canyon we were actually looking for, and it seemed we were always paddling against the wind, but it was awesome. Bringing together a dessert landscape and a lake really creates a breathtaking view. Picture 500ft tall shear walls and spires colored every shade of red coming together with the lake's crystal clear water. What looks like the reflection of the cliffs above in reality is the rock receding beneath the lakes surface where it connects with the canyon floor some 400 ft below. There could not be a more unique beauty on the planet.

We spent three days on the lake. When we were by somewhat flat ground, Chaco would hop out and swim/run after us for a while, then get tired, and happily climb back into the boat. On the second day, a small storm left us stranded, unable to paddle against the whitecaps, until a pontoon full of Italians picked us up and towed us to a nearby marina. That allowed us to get back to our put-in the next day, just in time to take the rented kayak back and hit the road.

So that's part one. It was certainly the most eventful part, in fact at times it felt everything was working against us, but it was beautiful and exciting and a great arm workout. Stay tuned for the next round of outdoor adventures.


David B Katague said...

I enjoyed your photos and reading your outdoor adventures. Cheers!

cmherrington said...

Did I forget to mention the part about it being monsoon season down here? We have had some amazing storms recently with 60-80 mph winds not uncommon. I'm glad you guys made out ok in the storm on the lake. I'll keep living vicariously through you...

smnewcomb said...

I am so jealous!! I was just in most of the places you have visited back in June. We'll have to compare details once you get back!