September 14-21, 2008: Lake Powell, Utah

One of many trip reports by Alan Silverstein.
Last update: December 16, 2008

Contents:

Less than a month after returning home from my August adventure... Off I went again for my second Lake Powell houseboating trip of the summer. This time my wife Cathie stayed behind, and I had four others in the crew: Regulars Bob Laing and Perry Scott, plus first-timers Raj Basudev and Judy Walker.

We didn't find a ski boat, but we shared a fabulous time on the lake anyway! As it turned out, everyone in the group was a serious hiker. Personally I did six walks in six days, missing one... To set up the hikes, we moved the boat a lot, probably setting a record. We moored in a different place each night, and tied up 10 more times during the days, for a total of 17 anchorings!

The pond had dropped about five feet in the last month to 3627', 73' below full, but still higher than it was over the last five years. I wanted to go north to Good Hope Bay for the first time since 2000, and we did. As expected, it was moderately crowded around the marinas, and nearly empty once we reached the bay.

Also the weather was very nice for September, warm but not hot, no precipitation all week, and not too windy either (until Saturday). The moon was full Monday morning, so we saw lots of great moonrises, a little later each night.


September 12, Friday -- Start the Fun Early

The houseboat sat unused both the weeks before and after our trip. That meant it was out at the buoy... I had to retrieve it at the start, and later return it. This took some extra time and added to the adventure, but it really wasn't too bad, even without a ski boat. I brought both of my flatwater kayaks, and with a little help from Bob, I was able to use one of them as a taxi.

Now since I had to go to the buoy, and the weather looked nice, I decided to leave home earlier than usual, on Friday afternoon, and spend two nights exploring on the way to the lake. To my surprise, Bob said, "pick me up in west Denver on the way through," and Perry said, "I'm leaving Friday too, and I'll caravan with you in my truck." So we did! We had a mini-vacation together before starting the real one.

Friday morning, I loaded the boats on my car and drove into work at Avago in Fort Collins, Colorado. I left again after a very short day at 12:45, picked up a spare houseboat prop at a boat shop, met Perry at the next I25 exit, and then Bob at the I70 Morrison exit.

Here it was rainy as we departed again at 2:20 pm. We took advantage of Perry's (open) truck bed to haul some of the (copious) cargo. Fortunately the rain didn't bother the gear much, since it rained intermittently through lunch in Silverthorne, and beyond.

We reached Fruita in western Colorado around 7 pm. I wanted to do the fresh-food shopping no earlier than the next morning, so we stayed there. And, despite clear weather, and although prepared to camp out, we decided instead to share a cushy motel room at the Super 8. We offloaded the exposed cargo to the room (a common theme the next few days), then had a nice Mexican dinner at Panchos. I enjoyed the hot spa at the motel before bedding down on the floor by an open window...


September 13, Saturday -- Rockhound Utah

We realized we could leave the truck cargo in the room while shopping "across the street" (I70) at the City Market, so we did. We loaded up with produce on ice, checked out, lost track of each other trying to buy a snack at the McDonald's (sorry Perry), and finally left Fruita at 10:35 am.

It was a gorgeous, clear, warm fall day in the high desert. We turned south off I70 to Yellowcat Flat, north of Arches, and drove south on gravel about 7 miles towards the La Sals. We parked in two different spots in the Morrison formation to wander around looking for pretty agates of various kinds. Our total time off the highway was 4.5 hours, and we saw almost no one else. Bob had his own rock hammer, and Perry had fun bashing stones using mine.

Back on I70, we continued west to the "main" road south to Moab. Bob and Perry being agreeable, we did another side-trip, this time 3.5 hours until we returned; 15 miles down the pavement, then a very rough unpaved road east into Klondike Bluffs, again about 7 miles. I took them to a spot first shown to me over ten years ago by Steve Speer featuring big fossil logs (and small chips), agates, and even some dino bone nuggets.

Back on I70 once more, we proceeded the rest of the way to Green River, Utah, arriving at 7:45 pm. To my surprise, we all elected to share a (smaller) motel room again, rather than camp. We were lucky to get the very last non-smoking room available at Motel 6.

After unloading, we visited the Tradewinds restaurant at the truck stop for a late, delicious dinner. Around 9:15, Raj and Judy (remember them?) showed up to join us. We'd been in touch by cell phones, and as it turned out, they also stayed at the Motel 6.


September 14, Sunday -- Finally Floating

We got an earlier start this morning. Bob and I in my car, and Perry in his truck, took off at 7:50 am, bought some Arby's breakfast before the highway, and drove non-stop to Bullfrog Marina at 10 am. We went down to the boat rental dock, near the north buoy field, and they launched me in my kayak at 10:35.

Ten minutes later I was on the houseboat alone, giving it a fast going-over and prepping it for travel. I detached from the buoy cable at 11:10, and we had the boat tied up (mooring #1) at Hobie Cat Beach at 11:45. (Sure enough, over an hour extra to retrieve the houseboat.) It took two tries to find a deep enough spot along shore, and this was not as early as I'd originally hoped, but it was still plenty fine, and the weather was great too.

We unloaded both vehicles; talked Raj and Judy in her van down to the boat by cell phone and got them unloaded; she bought herself a fishing license; Perry bought block and crushed ice for the trip -- all the usual logistics. We finally left Hobie at 2:20 pm, motored down Bullfrog Bay, turned left, and went north (upstream) for the week.

The first point of interest was a pass by Stanton Canyon just to look at it. Later we entered Forgotten Canyon, drove all the way to the end, couldn't quite see the Defiance House Ruins (but knew they were nearby), got stuck briefly in shallow mud, and finally tied up (#2) temporarily on the left side (river-right). This was the beginning of a drawn-out comedy of errors that left me doubting my houseboating skills! Just mucking around in the mud and vegetation to place sufficiently solid anchor lines here was a prolonged affair.

View up to Defiance House ruins That done, with gusto, the entire crew marched off the Wildwind, up the rocky hill, around the corner, and... Came to a dead stop within minutes atop a small hill. The bench on our side ended at water of unknown depth reaching all the way to a cliff face. We could see the ruins upstream a little bit, including the famous pictographs, but there was no practical way to reach them. Sigh!

It was too late in the day to think about moving Wildwind to the other side of the canyon, and another houseboat was already anchored there anyway. In fact, we saw their crew out on foot, getting lost trying to bushwhack up the valley to see the ruins.

Then I had a brilliant idea -- "Let's tie up for the night nearby, and we can take turns exploring by kayak, tonight and in the morning." We messed around for an agonizingly long time pulling up at a couple of marginal spots... To prove to myself that we were always in sight of other boats, and would be intruding on them. "Forget it! We can return to this canyon at the end of the week." (But by then, nobody cared, and we didn't.)

Well I still wanted to hike the Smith Fork slots (across the main channel from Forgotten) the next morning (and we did), so next I took Wildwind out of the canyon and over there. We spent a bunch more beautiful late-day minutes fruitlessly scouting around several spots hoping for a tie-up near the mouth of the canyon. Twice I had someone pin the boat on shore so I could run up and look for anchoring. So close -- but nothing solid -- to heck with this too.

By now I was 100% ready to moor somewhere, and daylight was getting short. We cruised back over to the east (Forgotten) side, and found a small private cove off the main channel a little ways downstream. The boulders here seemed pretty good -- but, testing one line with the motors, we pulled it off -- sigh again. "I do know what I'm doing, really!"

Around sunset (at 7:33 pm), quite tired of it all, I finally had the boat secured (#3), and went for a walk! I knew there were moki steps (holes pecked into the cliff wall hundreds of years ago) somewhere nearby, but I couldn't remember where. Then I found them right across from the stern of the Wildwind! That was cool.

We enjoyed our first of seven dinners together on the roof, and watched a full moon rise above the cliffs across from us. The first two nights it was calm enough to light a candle while dining. It was gorgeous!


September 15, Monday -- Smith Fork Slot Canyon

It was a lazy first morning on the lake. Judy fished, and everyone played on the moki steps. I snorkeled a little, and found one golfball on the bottom with Judy's previous initials marked on it (weird).

We detached and left around 11:30 am for the short trip across the channel and up to the end of Smith Fork to visit the famous slot canyon (my first time too). There was just one place, very tight, where we could barely tie up the Wildwind (#4) near the end, but it sufficed. After getting all sweaty handling this, I jumped in for a quick swim and to explore the small creek running nearby. There were a lot of bright green algae "blooms" here, and all over the lake in fact.

Everyone hiked together from 1:15 until 4:30 (3:15 round-trip), a few back 15 minutes later than that. I'd heard that some swimming might be required, so I wore a swimsuit and water shoes, and took only a light pack, with bags for waterproofing it. As it turned out, while walking in the water was pleasant, hiking boots would have been OK too. It had been a dry season.

Out from side canyon of Smith Fork I didn't have a map of the area, but had heard that the slots were 30-45 minutes walk upstream at this water level. What no one mentioned was an ambiguous fork in the trail, down in the overgrown streambed, about 35 minutes in. I went up the right fork far enough to see a narrowing, then told the others to follow me. As it turned out, this was a worthwhile side-trip just a few hundred feet to a gorgeous, cave-like dead-end "mini-cathedral" with a sandy plunge pool.

Returning to the main drainage, I found a foot trail above the streambed on the same side, an easier route, then met a couple of people walking out. "Just another quarter mile," they said. I think it was closer to 1/3 of a mile, but then, sure enough, the gulch narrowed, and we found ourselves in a fantastic slot canyon.

Slot canyon in Smith Fork Slot canyon in Smith Fork The floor varied from pink, purple, and white sandstone boulders to just plain gray sand. The walls were sinuous and colorful too. We meandered up at differing paces, each as far as they were inclined. I decided at 3:30 that I'd seen as much as I needed, and turned around to get back to the houseboat ahead of the others.

From the mouth of the slots, I walked back fairly directly, and it really was just 35 minutes total, one-way, without dawdling. Still, the creek stroll featured gorgeous reflections.

All aboard, we untied again, left at 5 pm, were out to the main channel at 5:35, and stopped there to float a while and swim. After that, we had enough daylight left to do one of my favorite things "up north" -- skim the mile-long base of the 650' tall Tapestry Wall as fast and close as I dared with the big boat.

Moonlight photo of nearby campfire Raj in kayak I wanted to hike up some inviting slickrock slopes beyond the Wall and Warm Springs Canyon. We eventually moored (#5) at what turned out to be just the right place, the shallow end of the biggest canyon on river-right about 1.5 miles upstream from Warm Springs. Raj and I took kayaks out to say hello to some neighbors (unfortunately still barely in sight), and to view the sunset colors at the main channel. We all enjoyed Mexican dinner on the roof. It was very calm and pretty, with the neighbors's campfire glowing in the distance as the full moon rose.


September 16, Tuesday -- Up and Out, Over and Back (Warm Springs)

Somehow I conned everyone into joining me on a jaunt 900' up the slickrock to a local 4524' high point. We secured the houseboat and strode off at 9:25 am on another pretty morning. First we had to scramble up the little hill by the houseboat, then walk across rough flats towards the main hill (huge bare slickrock visible from the lake), then find the best way to start up that slope.

Hikers spread out on the route From slickrock slope down to boat and crew hiking Our first rest in the shade was a huge outcrop on the initial Navajo slickrock exposure above and to the left of the end of the canyon. From there we tried to find the best route on the unrelenting inclined hillside, avoiding anything uncomfortably steep for "frictioning". We took our time, and eventually came over the top -- only to see the true summit, set back farther, above a cliffy remnant layer of pink Entrada sandstone perhaps 80' thick.

I was pleased that everyone was OK to keep going. We walked about a quarter mile around to the right to find a sandslide route up to the top. And then, on the brushy, coarse flats of Ticaboo Mesa, there was an old jeep road running right back to the edge of the cliff. Total time so far, 1:40; views, excellent: Navajo Mountain in the distance; the Tapestry Wall closer beyond the dark cut of Warm Springs Canyon; the Henry Mountains to the northwest and north; a little of Good Hope Bay to the northeast; and so forth.

After a while, three people started straight back down the ascent route for a round-trip of 4:05. Meanwhile Bob and I, in radio contact with them, strolled north on the jeep road to the next high point, then west from there down a little to look over the edge. Surprise -- there was a doable way down through the Entrada cliff here to keep going. The rest of the crew being agreeable, we did.

Bob and I got onto several square miles of barren (and even shadeless), hillocky, Navajo sandstone. We made a fast walk, mostly downhill, on the slickrock, over a mile southwest toward the head of Warm Springs Canyon. Upon reaching that point just 35 minutes after leaving the group, we saw a sinuous slot arriving at the pour-off, and no view down the canyon either.

View down Warm Spring Canyon from above Walking a little bit back east took us to a point where we could look down about 400' to the lake, and out to the end of the canyon. It was very nice, but now getting hot. We didn't stay long before starting a return march, more direct and to the right of how we'd come down, trying to minimize our gains and losses across the stone badlands. We had plenty of water, but I wanted to rest and eat in the shade -- any shade -- and there wasn't any for over a mile.

In sight of our earlier 4527' high point to the north, we went right and over the crest, up a drainage, to see the eastern slope of slickrock again, and the houseboat 0.6 miles away up the main channel. We did a high traverse in that direction, at risk of encountering an uncrossably deep gully, but it worked out just right. We even found a small patch of shade along the way.

Looking down on the moored houseboat Bob and I descended a section of hillside steeper than anything we'd walked up, but it worked out as a direct route. We made our long way down to the houseboat at 3:30 (6:05 round trip). I was told I was beet red from the heat, but I didn't feel too awful.

We untied the houseboat, backed out, turned, motored to the main channel, and floated out there for another pleasant swim in deep, clean, warm water decorated with fluorescent green algae swirls. Next we drove up to Good Hope Bay.

I pulled into the southeast bay and, following an old GPS waypoint, got us as close as possible to a big fossil log I'd seen years ago. We ran out of water 0.2 miles away. We tied up the boat (#6) at the best spot I could find, although it was on the opposite side of the overgrown creekbed.

As the lake went up and down, the tamarisks and tumbleweeds were thickening along the shorelines. When the lake rose, it drowned the weed patches. But since it was now up to within five feet of a five-year high, many of the back fingers were muddy, brushy nightmares.

Nonetheless we all went for a walk. Those of us in water shoes suffered with stickery baby tumbleweeds, and the gray hillsides turned out to be deep, soft, recycled volcanic ash. After a while I went down to the dry creekbed, found a way to bushwhack across, and to my surprise, everyone else followed me through the thicket.

Fossil log in hillside of Good Hope Bay Before too much longer we found the log "right where I'd left it," weathering out of the ancient mudstone. While the others explored here, I went back alone (ouch again), untied the boat, and moved it across the channel. Beaching up against weedy rocks made a more direct and easier route for the others to return. All aboard, at 6:20 pm, we drove back into the main bay again.

I wanted to hike Ticaboo Canyon the next day, but I had a bright idea. It was getting late, mooring was unknown at the end of the canyon, and why bottle ourselves up? I called a powwow, and everyone agreed it would be cool to instead stay on the west side of the main bay (for moonrise later), out in the open. So we did. And it was!

We found a marginal but doable spot (#7) just south of the spit that marked the very end of Ticaboo Canyon's wide mouth on the bay. Some folks built and fed a campfire up on the rocky shore. We shared a great steak dinner on the roof with a mild breeze. We watched a long time as a serene post-full moon crested the cliffs across the bay, and then imperceptibly climbed the eastern sky. It illuminated a few scattered drifting silver clouds. Way up to the north beyond Castle Butte, we witnessed silent lightning flashes in the far, far distance.


September 17, Wednesday -- Ticaboo Canyon, Paradise and Purgatory

It was another lazy morning with lots of eye-candy in all directions.

Houseboat moored in Good Hope Bay I took a walk with Raj up the nearby peninsula rocks to the north. As usual, getting around and up to the high outcrop wasn't really hard, less than 10 minutes, but it was farther and more tedious than I'd guessed. Of course the view from the top was great.

At about 10 am we untied and drove the Wildwind up Ticaboo Canyon. There were mirror reflections, and one very tight and shallow spot to negotiate. We had it to ourselves as we moored (#8) near the end.

I make this sound quick and simple, but actually here's how it went: Without realizing that we were only in about four feet of water, with a muddy bottom, I put the bow against a cobble-rock shoreline. I had someone pin the boat there with one engine. I ran off, up the 10' hill, then several hundred feet upstream. I was pleased to find trails and footpaths through the brush. After I was sure we could walk from the houseboat up the canyon (remembering what happened Sunday in Forgotten), I ran back to study the anchoring.

I saw that by moving a little bit downstream, we'd have an easier place to do it. I stayed on shore and directed Perry at the helm how to back off, turn a little, and move the bow maybe 50'. This took a little trial and error. Also I was concerned at the muddy water being churned up by the props, but no harm was done.

Once the nose was in the right place, I ran an anchor line out on each side to whatever I could find, with the help of someone at the rear to feed it out and then tie it. I used an anchor in sand on one side, which apparently dragged a ways much later, when the others were back before me and they had to fix it.

Small tapestry wall in Ticaboo Canyon So eventually the houseboat was secured, and we all walked off at 11:35 am. We bushwhacked a little to the mostly dry floor of the creek. There were many pools richly green with algae, and some flowing water in a few spots. Before too long we arrived at a curving, surreal "tapestry wall" I vaguely remembered, stained brown and orange from permanent springs. The whole wall had been underwater more than five years ago.

It was a pleasant, cool day. It took us about an hour to reach what I called, based on studying Google views, the "main fork." After resting and regrouping in the shade there, we proceeded up the left (major) drainage. It was a wide canyon with steep, colorful walls, and a floor ranging from rocky to sandy.

Tree and reflection in Ticaboo Canyon We kept going and after a while turned right at a second fork. I had some idea where I was, but no map. I wanted to reach a nearly 5000' hilltop between the main forks that I'd seen on Google maps. The nature of the canyon varied as we walked, and there were nice glimpses of the southern Henry Mountains towering in the distance.

At some point I noticed that my cheap old digital camera in my belt pouch with the worn-out velcro -- was gone. It must have fallen out without me noticing. I wasn't too upset, because just a few days ago it had developed some incurable problem of overexposing the images, or at least it appeared so when played back on the screen. I hadn't yet gotten around to asking Raj to download it to his laptop. I mentally noted the spot, and decided to look for the camera on the return trip.

I kept taking pictures on my second, newer, "backup" digital camera. I didn't like it very much because I thought it did a poor job. Well that was my fault too; I'd forced it to ISO 400! (That's why some of the pictures through Wednesday are grainy.) Later Raj helped me figure this out, I fixed it, and it was great. (Whew.)

Anyway after two hours and more breaks, to my surprise everyone was up to keep going, so we did. Before long I found a deer trail between brush and trees on a long bench to the right, easier walking than the canyon floor, although eventually we were back at it again. It was mostly dry, with some sections of water emerging and forming pools.

View down from several miles up Ticaboo After a total of 2.5 hours, at around 2:10 pm, the majority decided they were done. We were less than a mile from the hilltop goal, and 1.92 miles GPS direct from the houseboat, meaning probably three miles up the canyon. I wasn't too disappointed about quitting; it had been obvious for a while that we just didn't have enough time to get that far. (Paradoxically, cooler weather, which is good for longer hikes, means less daylight.)

I sat in the shade with Bob for some lunch. We turned around at 2:40 pm and trailed the others back, in radio contact. They got to the houseboat at 4:30. I was somewhat slower... Because before long, I had a small accident...

Here's an email I sent five days later, after I got home, which recounts the tale:

  From:  Alan Silverstein <ajs@frii.com>
  Date:  22 Sep 2008 11:36:16 -0600
  Subject:  Alan's excellent [mis]adventure

  A brief note about a recent adventure...  No, not our week at Lake
  Powell, which was awesome, but stories and photos on that will come
  later.

  While we were there, last Wednesday, three miles up Ticaboo Creek, I
  stepped on a rock in the streambed that rolled under me and dumped me
  down violently a couple of feet.  I slammed hard on my left lower thigh
  onto a boulder.  This caused a fair bit of pain immediately, and ever
  since, but with ibuprofen I was able to hike out, and in fact hike some
  more on Thursday and Friday.  It was getting better, and there was no
  visible bruising.

  But, during the long drive home yesterday, my leg swelled up and turned
  various shades of purple around my knee.  I developed aches and tingles
  from my hip down to my ankle.  I got home at 10:45 pm, my wife helped me
  unload the car and get ready for bed, and we talked more...  Next thing
  you know, I was on the phone with an RN at NurseLine who asked lots of
  questions and then basically said, "I wouldn't wait until morning...
  You could die, or lose your leg."

  So, somewhere between 1 am and 3 am, I got a fabulous gurney ride
  through our amazing state-of-the-art emergency room at PVH on Lemay to
  visit Ultrasound and X-ray...

  My leg still looks awful, and it aches a lot, but they mostly ruled out
  anything too serious.  Whew.

  And that's really why I got in late today.  :-)

Reflection at tapestry in Ticaboo So, back to Wednesday: I limped out with Bob, trying to find and retrace my tracks based on my unique boot sole impression. I did pretty well, but I never did find that old camera! And at the main fork, getting worse rather than better, I had to borrow Bob's collapsible walking pole for the rest of the journey.

I gutted out the return, which was more and more painful. We reached the houseboat at 5:25 pm (5:50 round trip). There was no visible surface bruising on my thigh, but I could hardly bend my left knee.

I needed help to deanchor. We drove out into a mild wind, crossed the bay, and then floated and swam a while. Even being in the water was painful on my leg. I assumed I was done hiking for the week, which was a real bummer.

We cruised upstream (north) a mile or two further towards Castle Butte. There were almost no boats in Good Hope Bay, but there was one in the gulch where I would have liked to park (for walking around the next morning). Oh well, we motored back out and south a little to a random spot (tie-up #9) in the lee of the now persistent wind, due south of the Butte, just in sight of the upper half of it. This turned out to be a really pretty place, next to a small island.

Island near houseboat (in the morning) We shared Italian dinner on the roof at about 7 pm. While eating, a chunk of rock randomly fell off the island, making a large noise and a small splash. That was weird. Anyway, we enjoyed watching a late moonrise, an ISS (International Space Station) pass, and an Iridium flare (satellite solar panel flash).


September 18, Thursday -- Castle Butte or Bust!

Castle Butte and reflection It was a little hard to sleep because in certain positions my banged-up thigh hurt a lot. I was awake at 5:51 to watch another Iridium flare, but as expected it was washed out by the post-full moon. Back to bed, sleep in... Later, a pretty morning.

My leg felt better. We moved Wildwind partway up Blue Notch Canyon, beyond the other boat, still on the same side (river-right), in a shallow, muddy finger (mooring #10), out of sight of anyone. There was Moenkopi formation fossil ripple rock up the hill. I found it while walking around a little to assess my leg, which really wasn't doing too badly.

So at 10:50 I set out on a "short" hike with Bob and Raj up the hill, onto higher flats maybe a hundred feet above us. We found an old abandoned road past the base of Castle Butte, and lots of petrified wood chunks scattered around in spots.

Raj sitting below on Castle Butte slope Route up/down Castle Butte Near the edge of the Butte, we studied the hillside, then went up one steep ridgelet that got us through some broken Chinle cliffs (and below others). Raj was happy going up this far and no further. He sat a while as Bob and I traversed around (clockwise), and found a somewhat easier slope covered with boulders of various sizes. We continued up this steep, somewhat loose, but surprisingly doable hillside.

Looking down at Bob climbing Also I was pleasantly surprised how good my leg felt. Once in a while if I bent my knee too far, I got a sharp reminder in the thigh muscle, but it wasn't debilitating. I knew I might hurt it more again on the way down, but I really wanted to keep going. And I'm really glad I did! The climb wasn't terribly long, hot (just warm), or risky, and the scenery was fantastic.

High view of Blue Notch Canyon from Castle Butte Bob sitting before huge rock cleft Bob and I reached some blocks with huge clefts at the base of the Wingate formation sandstone (4330' GPS) at 12:10, 1:20 up from the boat. We rested here, talked with the other three by radio, and flashed them with my signal mirror -- we could just barely see the back of the houseboat over the hillside.

Looking up at Bob in final chimney After a while we proceeded back into the sunshine, down a little, around a few hundred feet north (counter-clockwise), and up to another patch of shade, higher than before at 4420'. The map on the boat said the summit was 4527', and it was so rugged I knew we weren't going all the way there anyhow. But, taking only my camera, I left my pack and explored further up the narrow, steep V above us. It turned into a nearly vertical rocky chimney, but it was climbable!

This route gave us access to the broken "north ridge" of Castle Butte, with a view over the far side, up the rest of Good Hope Bay. We were at least 50' higher than our packs, so within 50' of the true summit. It was fantastic.

We carefully returned to our packs, then descended the steep, loose hillside, 1:45 - 2:50 back to the houseboat, just 4:00 round-trip. Reaching the road only took us 38 minutes, partly because we walked down a different ridgelet, more to the right, that we could see from above was easier. Again I had to be careful with my left leg, but other than some painful jolts, no harm was done.

Once back on the houseboat, we wasted no time moving out at 3:10. I wanted cleaner water in which to swim, but then figured we might as well go all the way south a few miles to... Popcorn Canyon! It was the first time I'd been back there since the USGS Board on Geographic Names accepted (in 2005) my proposal to name this canyon, along with a few other Glen Canyon features.

Houseboat moored in Popcorn Canyon We tied up (#11) on a small-rocky and not-too-overgrown shore 0.16 miles from "Popcorn Beach", and all strolled over to see it. After a pleasant time playing here, I took a nice long swim off the back of the houseboat, then got it going again at 5:50 pm.

We motored downstream toward the Tapestry Wall as far as we could get before running out of daylight, and it worked out great. We found a very sweet spot (#12) at 7:10 pm, one we had passed up on Monday to go farther north, open to a wide bay and in sight of a glorious sunrise on the Tapestry Wall the next morning. It took long anchor lines, but the wind wasn't bad, and the lake was 23' deep off the stern.

That evening we enjoyed a rooftop dinner of burgers and brats before twilight, plus a very bright (-8) Iridium flare. After eating, I did a solo night kayak to some neighbors (a fishing party) near the mouth of Warm Springs Canyon, about a mile away, and back as the moon rose. It was a lovely, warm, calm night.


September 19, Friday -- Tapestry Wall

Sunrise on Tapestry Wall I limped awake early, quietly, to shoot way too many pictures of a slowly progressing, awesome golden sunrise on the Tapestry Wall. The nearby reflections were splendid too. Later I did a little snorkeling, but we still pulled out before 9 am. We drove a relatively short distance, maybe three miles, to the downstream end of the Wall to start a hike to the top of it.

In the past I'd gotten onto the slickrock about one mile from the summit, but this area had been a sheer cliff for many years since the lake dropped. I'd heard there was a way up, "further south", and sure enough, the next canyon downstream was it. I figured if my leg was OK for walking, and we could find a decent spot to tie up the boat, I'd join the group. Otherwise I'd just drop them off and float around waiting. Well we found a marginal but acceptable mooring (#13), given it was another calm day, and I went up the hill with them.

All five of us loaded up and walked off at 10:15 to begin a grinding stroll up massive, bare sandstone ridges. We found some old cairns, and we left more behind us as we went, but we still missed the last set coming down, thus making a small loop.

Crew hiking up Tapestry Wall route Anyway the first perhaps 500' of ascending felt long and slow. I must have been tired, and my leg hurt enough to make me more careful. We got to where we could see a long traverse north, still mostly climbing but less steeply, to a pink Entrada clifftop above the bare red/gray Navajo sandstone.

North to summit above Tapestry Wall North across Ticaboo Mesa to Henry Mtns Following cairns and a path angling to the right, we reached the sandy, scrubby, rolling top of Ticaboo Mesa (4250') about 0.9 miles from the boat and 0.6 from the conical summit plainly visible in the distance in front of assorted Henry Mountains.

The hilltop (4312') was only about 60' higher, but a long walk to reach. We spread out, each taking our own route.

Down along Tapestry Wall Raj accompanied me close to the edge of the cliff, with increasingly spectacular views down and out over the Tapestry Wall. We could see part of it curving to the right upstream in the distance.

View down from top of Tapestry Wall I reached the hilltop at 11:50, that is, 1:35 from the boat; not a terribly long journey, but it felt tedious. The others sauntered up over time. The weatherbeaten old wooden four-legged tower was still standing on the summit. It was such a gorgeous day, I lingered there a long while, as others came and later went. What a grand view for lunch!

Bob standing above Tapestry Wall cliff Way down below on the lake, we saw people moor their ski boat in a lagoon-like area and swim around. I also watched the comical meanderings of a large houseboat... You could guess what they were thinking... "Is this Cedar Canyon? No, let's turn back out... Is this Cedar? Yes..." They disappeared up the gulch, turning left and right to study the shoreline, only to reappear a while later. Finally they crossed up the channel and moored... Right where we had been the previous night!

I hung out until 12:45, then went down pretty much the same way I'd come up. Despite Perry's good idea of leaving separated tracks across the mesa, the "down" point was not obvious. I used my GPS to head for the spot... "Four degrees right of Navajo Mountain..." And a while later, "now it's four degrees left..." It didn't seem correct, I started to doubt the GPS unit, but ultimately it did lead me right back to the cairn we'd placed above the dropoff.

We arrived at the Wildwind at 2:15 (1:30 down, 4:00 round trip). I was relieved to find that no wind had disturbed our floating home. We took a refreshing swim; nine feet deep at the stern, but clear and green. Motoring out at 3:35, it dropped rapidly to 120'.

It was time to make some miles toward the marinas. But, passing the mouth of Smith Fork, I really wanted to run up the slope on the downstream side that I'd first eyed so many years ago. There were some boat-wake waves and a little breeze, but I thought I had the Wildwind tied up adequately to shore with one line... Nope! (So I'm not counting this as a mooring!)

Down hillside at Smith Fork mouth Perry and Bob went up the hill, and when they were near the top, I followed them. When I was most of the way up, the boat came loose despite Raj trying to resecure it. I had to call Judy on the radio, and tell her how to start a motor and drive it back to shore. Oh well! Nonetheless we got a good fast look, and confirmed the "up and out" access point there.

Later I looked for a good place along river-right, near Moki, for the rest of the crew to go for a hike while I rested my sore leg and cooked dinner. Parking and anchoring wasn't trivial, and there was a dead fish floating in our cove... But we did find a nice, anonymous little bay exactly one mile (at 276 degrees bearing) from the mouth of Moki, across the channel, southeast of the 4031' hilltop. We were secured (#14) by 5:30 pm.

The others left on a walk at 5:50, which ended up being 80 minutes total, to the higher flats above the lake, out of sight. I suggested they go to the local high point for a wraparound view of the lake (Colorado River) from our peninsula, but they didn't make it that far.

Sunset colors Kayaks on back of houseboat Meanwhile I enjoyed tidying the boat, barbecuing chicken (not really knowing how, but they did eat it), etc. We shared dinner together on the roof once more, before dark, under a lovely, partly cloudy sunset. There was a good stiff wind, but it was up our tail, which was OK with me since there wasn't room for big waves to form. We saw the ISS again, and another Iridium flash.


September 20, Saturday -- Stanton Canyon and Marina Chores

I had big plans for today: Take the crew to Stanton Canyon, drop them off to hike up the "Monotit" hill west of the canyon (I'd been up it at least twice before), and meanwhile, hobnob with folks from WaynesWords.com at the fall "Shad Rally" campout. Later, visit Halls Marina for dock duties, then beach somewhere near Bullfrog for the night. But, it was a pleasant morning, and there was no rush.

Wearing just water shoes and a light pack, but with a radio and a water bottle, I took my sore leg for a stroll up the slickrock. It was only 10 minutes to the rim above, so I talked with folks on the boat and kept walking. In the distance was a small cobble-covered, cone-shaped hill that looked interesting -- and it was -- and it only took me 12 more minutes to get to the top of it.

Southeast to Moki Cyn from hill Well at 4002' it wasn't as high as the bluffs to the west, but it had an even more spectacular view of the lake than I recalled from the higher spot. I could see continuous water for all but about 40 degrees of panorama! I called down to the boat again, told them what they could share with a 25-minute hike, but I guess they were too mellow, 'cause no one took the bait.

I wandered back down, again cursing the pain in my leg at points, but it still functioned OK. I was back at about 9:40 am, and had been out for 70 minutes! There still wasn't any hurry, so I snorkeled a little, avoiding the floating dead fish, to unhook Judy's snagged line.

Eventually we took off for Stanton. When we got there, I couldn't find an obvious sign of the Rally! I took the boat through six-foot-deep shallows to the west where I saw big tents on shore, but it was some kind of a family reunion! Feeling silly, I did a 180 back east, and then I recognized Pete Klocki's houseboat, the Pattycake, which I'd only known about from Web postings.

Well finally I realized it was too far for the hikers, so we kept going north up Stanton Creek anyway. We parked in a nice place (#15) surrounded by other boats (and cars that had come down the road for camping), launched the other four afoot, and -- why walk when you can paddle? -- I took a kayak ride, which turned out to be 0.4 miles, back to Pattycake. I was out 12:30 - 3:15, returning home the same time as Raj and Judy. (Bob and Perry got back later at 3:50.)

South across Stanton mouth to Halls Crossing Anyway, I beached my kayak by the Pattycake, requested permission to come aboard, and hung out on the stern a while talking with Pete and others. Then I took a walk up a nearby hill to eat some lunch and try reaching my crew by radio -- which was surprisingly difficult. Eventually I heard they were making slow progress, having had to walk a mile or more to the north end of the hill and the north saddle to get on top.

Child in kayak It was another gorgeous, sunny, warm but not too hot, Lake Powell fall afternoon. But the wind picked up as the forecast had predicted. Waiting for Perry and Bob to reach the top of the hill, I went back down by Pattycake and offered short kayak demo rides to five very cute kids, whom I learned later were all from one family.

Tiny images of people high on hillside The hikers arrived at the south end of the hill, could barely stand up in the gale force wind, and stayed only long enough for me to take some telephotos. It was fun pointing them out to the "Wordlings", who were suitably impressed.

Hill and pillar from Stanton Canyon mouth While Bob and Perry retraced their steps, I paddled like mad into the wind and big waves to the southernmost boulders across the canyon. I stopped on a beach for a while, then scrambled around the base of one of the "Haystack" pillars, presently a small island. The downwind return to the houseboat was very fast, 10 minutes with a huge tailwind and being overtaken by large rollers.

Raj and Judy took a short tour in the kayaks while I prepared myself and the boat for departure.

By the time the last hikers returned, I was an hour "behind schedule", and not thrilled about the strong winds. Regardless, we made waves for the marina, with a short "hot stop" on the beach by Pattycake to donate some extra ice to them. We went through the fuel and water docks without incident, despite the incessant adverse gusts, 5:00 - 6:30 pm, although with the usual small gotchas to be overcome.

Next we drove posthaste a few miles across to southwest Bullfrog Bay -- crowded with other boats -- finally found an adequate spot, and were tied up (#16) just 18 minutes before sunset (7:24 pm).

Moonrise over houseboat roof Sunset in Bullfrog Bay over Garys Rock There wasn't time left to do a long walk up a nearby hill for sunset, so some of us just strolled around the area. I found myself on top of "Garys Rock", previously a barely submerged, prop-eating, boat-dinging island way out in the bay. It was yet another pretty sunset. We watched two more ISS passes about 90 minutes (one orbit) apart, and later a gorgeous waning gibbous moonrise around 10:30 pm.

What a great week it had been! And, personally I was out on foot for about 24.5 hours on 6 significant hikes, not even counting a number of shorter strolls.


September 21, Sunday -- Clean Up and Go Home

Morning sun glowing on rocks in Bullfrog Bay Going-home day from the lake is always tedious... I awoke too early, dragged out of my sleeping bag at 6:40 am a little tired, and continued cleaning and packing along with everyone else. We moored at Hobie Cat (#17, final tie-up if you don't count the buoy) at about 9:30 - 11:10 am. I released the rest of the crew at about 10:55, then Bob and I reversed the buoy procedure from a week ago. He helped me deanchor and drove my car around, while I took the houseboat alone to the north buoy field.

Despite a persistent breeze, I got the houseboat attached OK to buoy 501 at 11:30... Shut it down, and finished putting it away for at least the next couple of weeks. Underway by kayak at noon, oops, I had to run back a minute to retrieve the windsock I'd forgotten hanging on the bow.

Bullfrog rental dock On the beach by the rental dock, we added the second kayak to the roof of my car, then both took a last swim and bath. We departed Bullfrog at 12:55; not great, but could be worse. The car was jammed with gear again.

The drive home was long but blissfully uneventful. We went through Fruita at 5:15 pm. Later in southwest Denver I did a 26-minute round-trip detour to drop Bob (and his many pounds of Utah rocks) with a friend at the Morrison exit. I pulled into my own driveway at 10:45 pm, and Cathie helped me unload the car.

That's normally the end of the story... There's always a lot of followup trivia in the week or two after, putting everything away, making repairs, etc; not interesting to write about. But as you've already read, heading for bed around midnight, Cathie and I decided that a trip to the PVH ER was warranted first! During the long ride home, my left leg had developed a bad attitude. Fortunately the doctor concluded that my leg injury was "just a flesh wound," and I straggled into work the next day limping and exhausted. It hurt a distracting lot for about two more weeks, but eventually was good as new.