It’s dark. The wind has been blowing since, well, about 2 days prior. We’ve all had a little bit to drink when Casey wanders off to take a leak. When he reaches about 30 feet from where we are camped, he hollers back in surprise that it is raining. At first, we believe he means it’s sprinkling as that is what it had been doing all evening, but no it was pouring and appeared to have been doing so for at least a bit.

We were ecstatic.

Casey Anderson is one of my favorite people in the world. I met him on a snowy, late April day in Logan at Sunrise Cyclery. I was managing the shop and we were in the process of trying to find staff for the 3 months out of the year when you didn’t get excited about selling one bottle of lube all day. The owner had mentioned he had met someone who he thought would be a good fit and would be stopping by in the afternoon.

The snow was swirling. It wasn’t quite cold enough for it to stick so everything was just getting wet. I hear the doorbell chime and in walks a stocky redheaded guy wearing a sweater pants that were rolled up a bit on both side and Chacos. Within about 3 minutes, we had offered him a job and he stayed for a bit to chat and get a schedule worked out.

For the next 2-3 years, we worked together at Sunrise off and on. We even got to the point of sitting down with the owner, who is in a perpetual state of selling the place, to see what it would take to buy it. While I look back and wonder how fun it would have been to run that shop together, I know we made the right decision to walk away. It’s still for sale if anyone is interested.

The weekend hadn’t been planned as an Alcoving trip which was fitting because nothing about the weekend had gone as planned. 

Casey was going to meet us on Hole in the Rock road. That didn’t happen. Instead we both spent about 5 hours driving around in circles trying to find the other basically doing circles that were just outside of each other. Casey had given up on us convinced that we had headed down 50 Mile Canyon without him and was hightailing it back the 8 hours he had driven to get to Escalante home. 

We initially were convinced something horrible had happened. And we spent the morning trying to eliminate that possibility. When I was convinced that he wasn’t within my circle we sent a message that we were heading back toward town on the Hole in the Rock road. He got my message about the time he hit town and was finally able to respond. After looking for each other from about 7 AM that morning, we met up at the Outfitter’s at about 3:30.

As much as I love being out in the middle of nowhere, it wasn’t quite what we had planned. The whole point was to see Casey after 2 years of not being able to.

At this point, none of us, including Mama Bear, were interested in driving clear out to 50 Mile Canyon again. Luckily, there are almost infinite possibilities in the Grand Staircase and we settled on a quick overnighter into Harris Wash.

You’ve probably never heard of Alcoving. It’s a new sport and seeing that, we here at the Alliance are cutting edge, we are all about it. Alcoving is similar to canyoneering, but instead of exploring the canyon, you go to see the alcoves. The benefits are plenty and the downsides are none.

When ‘coving, there are a few things to keep in mind. Alcoves were created by water, if there is imminent precipitation it’s best to find one that isn’t currently being carved out by said liquid. It needs to be big enough to keep the rain at bay, be high enough that any flashing or flooding that might occur won’t wake you up to an unpleasant situation. You can tell when one is deep enough when you have about 50 feet between the last bit of vegetation and where you plan to sleep inside. The vegetation will stop where the rain stops.

Some of the benefits of Alcoving:

  • There is no need for a tent.
  • You essentially sleep outside while being inside.
  • As long as you abide by the above rules, you will stay dry.
  • If you happen to be into Cove Core, a sub genre of metal that is recorded in alcoves, it is the best place to listen to said music.
  • There’s probably no better way to observe a desert thunderstorm than from within an alcove.

We left the car a little after 5 with hopes of making it deep enough into the canyon to get away from the bovine and enjoy some sandstone walls and, of course, do some alcoving.

It was about a mile in that KB asked me if I had our tent. The clouds were gathering, the wind that had been blowing all day was still ripping and it was pretty clear that things weren’t going to stay dry all night. I had half the tent. The poles and rain fly to be exact. The rest was on the back seat of the car where I had handed it to her and said, “Here’s your half of the tent.”

Casey had his and worst case scenario we could all get real cozy, best case scenario was a bitching Alcoving Trip. We hiked for about 2 hours. The sun started to drop and the lighting was going off, but it was time to find a camp. Over the trees in a bend in the canyon, I could see a little bit of a cove. We began our way over with little hope that it would work. As we got closer, it kept getting bigger and bigger. Bonus, it was well above the flood levels.

We made our way and found the drip line to be well outside of where we would camp and plenty of almost perfectly flat spot to camp. We set up and began going about the usual mundane things you do once you hit camp. I walked down to the stream to get water. It starts to sprinkle. We get the bags, pads and stove set up and going. The wind is still ripping.

The sun drops and it becomes dark. The booze comes out and we all just take in our surroundings completely forgetting about the start of the day and instead begin to feel like this is exactly what we needed. Casey wanders out to take a leak and yells back that it is raining. We assume he means it’s sprinkling as we could not hear or feel the rain. It comes back wet and reports that it is pouring. We wander to the drip line and sure as shit it is coming down. We can hear water streaming off the cliff and find our way down to a lower section of the alcove to find two Junipers being pummeled by a water fall coming over the edge of the alcove. 

It was, as usual, just about exactly what we needed. And we were all more than ecstatic about how the day had ended.


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