Have you ever been doing something, anything and had someone die? And then, kept doing that thing that you were doing?
Yea, me neither.
About a month ago, Mama Bear and I spent the weekend off of Hole in the Rock road culminating in our hiking down to the lake through the hole. It was there that I learned that the only appropriate synonym for Pioneer is “Crazy Mother Fucker.” It was an “adventure” for us two able-bodied humans to trek to the bottom of the hole and all we were carrying was water and a couple of packrafts. Lower wagons, cattle, children and what not over that wall is just insane. And yet they did it and they did it after having lost men and horses in the first attempt. Which is to say, they set out to do something, people died, it was extremely hard, but they just kept doing it.
Since that trip, and realistically for the past year or so, I’ve had a hard time writing about my “adventures” because it all seems so self-indulgent. Maybe it’s my pure disdain for selfies and the culture surrounding taking a picture of yourself in hopes that others will like it so you can feel some self worth. Or maybe I just don’t get it. Either way, taking pictures of yourself or writing about what you did is more or less the exact same thing. That trip to the Hole did nothing to ease my uneasiness about writing about what I’ve done. In fact, I have set this odd bar that if no one died, it doesn’t matter and no one will care.
That’s not to say that I am hoping that someone dies on one of our trips, it’s more a reminder that I haven’t done anything significant and chances are, I won’t.
With that said, let me begin this story by informing you that no one died. You probably don’t care about anything that happens from here on down. I’ll try and keep it to things you might at least find mildly amusing.
The trip began with a bang. After just a mile of paddling/floating, we took our first side trip to see the Golden Cathedral. A short hike up the canyon opened to an alcove that has 3 holes coming down through it. The way the sun shines into the alcove makes for a stunning view. The side trip simply added to the splendor and excitement we were all feeling. And despite getting “sick” of seeing amazing red sandstone canyons after several days, the Cathedral was rad and certainly worth the small trip up the river.
This also happens to be where some garbage ass dragged their muddy boat over Jason’s leaving his brand new packraft covered in sludge.
Wilding was ahead of me. He had been giggling and expelling stoke since we started paddling. This behavior was typical for the whole group, everyone had their own way of doing it, but smiles were abundant and gasps of awe frequent. The river had widened for a second slowing us down, there was some comment about how rad it was and then Wilding took a deep pull with his paddle. The smile that had so constantly covered his face for the proceeding couple of hours, vanished. The change was the first thing I noticed as it was a drastic contrast.
The second thing I noticed was the blade of Jason’s paddle floating next to him while a stream of expletives left his mouth. Understandably so. We were only a few hours into day one, using half a paddle to navigate the shallow river and giant boulders that lay ahead would have made me think about hiking back up river to get to the car. After a brief stop, we continued down river. One of the most important qualities one must posses when in the backcountry is holding your shit together regardless of what happens.
Once we hit camp, the ideas of how to fix the paddle began. There was Guerrilla Tape, a tent peg was involved at one point, fire was used in addition to my tiny micro-tool to create some grooves and the whole thing was then expertly wrapped in paracord. We had some pretty big doubts on how well it would work out, but it did and held with zero issues for the rest of the trip.
Moody Canyon was not in any shape or form a slot canyon. As you can see from the above photo, it’s a wide canyon with tall sandstone walls. It was beautiful and we found a bunch of petrified would that hand been tossed by water during floods creating some pretty stunning rocks.
The significant piece of this side trip was the drift wood and log jams that we found because they were anywhere from 20-30 feet above the canyon ground. That means a shit ton of water was rolling through here. It explained the line of erosions high up the canyon and the giant boulders that were tossed around, everywhere. I would not want to be in the bottom when that flood was coming through, but my imagination can’t stop thinking about how awesome it would be to see.
Steven’s Arch is not a new sight to me. It was the first place that Mama Bear took me when she convinced me that Escalante had more to offer than high mountains and alpine lakes. It sits at the confluence of Coyote Gulch and the Escalante. Every time I see it I am amazed. It’s a feature that will take your breath away despite how many times you see it.
The entire group was ahead of me when it came into view. I could tell we were near by the walls and the look of the canyon, but the chatter and sounds coming from the group made it clear that we had arrived. I grabbed my phone to get a video of the arch as I came around the bend, but it froze up just as the arch came into view chopping the best part out of the video. Stupid phone.
The only appropriate word that comes to mind for describing a hike up a sand dune with 40+ pound packs (unless you are me cause mine was just sub, just sayin’) is slog. You step up, legs straining under the weight and your effort’s result is cut in third as you slide down with every step. It was a certain reminder of Sisyphus. Our slog was broken up by the crack which required hoisting our packs up the wall to exit the canyon. The only thing that kept is going was the fact that there was no other way out and that Brother and Sister Meinkey had promised beer at the shuttle vehicle.
There is nothing extraordinary about this trip in the large scale of the universe, however, it was a trip that I would do again, and again, and again. It was mind blowing and I can’t wait to get back. I guess on an individual scale, that is pretty significant.
P. L. and R.