Wednesday, September 26, 2012

'There and Back Again' - To Steal a Title From Bilbo Baggins

We are back.  Sunburned, worn, and relaxed.  In spite of the trepidations voiced  in the previous post, it was a good trip.  The weather was almost perfect and we had a very congenial and interesting group of people there.  I'm writing this post as much to ensure that my memory doesn't muddles things as anything. I know that travelogues are often as good as Ambien in relaxing the reader into a coma.

We put in at Bullfrog Marina at about 4:30 pm on September 15, 2012.  We, being Janet and Scott, and Annie and I.  Our destination was Hite Marina, about 50 miles as the channel winds.  We had some perplexing discussions on whether or not to run our own shuttle as we had to get back to Bullfrog to pick up the truck and trailer. Apparently I'm not the only one challenged by the math story problems of the type 'you have a boat, two sheep and a lion. How can you transport them across a river without the lion eating on of the sheep......' as we had to get out toys and  model out our proposed shuttle.  In the end, we were too late getting on the water to also make the two mile trip to Stanton Canyon in the light.  The shuttle would be 1-1/2 hours each way, and we would have had to look for a camp site and the others in the dark.  I've done that enough in previous trips, and it isn't fun, so we left the cars were they were and headed down channel.

It wasn't a long trip, about two miles, and soon a really prominent rock and I think it was Annie that saw someone waving their arms and gesturing us in.  It was a snug little cove with lots of nice sandy beaches and soon we were anchored and ready for the night.

(I have to digress a little about boat camping at Lake Powell a little.  It seems like there would be an almost infinite number of places so tie up and camp on such a big lake, but actually a good camp is fairly hard to fine, and often already taken by another boat.  What pretty much all boaters are looking for is a sandy beach.  What they find is a lot of rock walls (~95% of shore line, especially in canyon areas), some rocky shore line that isn't vertical, but will scratch the heck out of your boat (~2.5%) and about 2.5% sandy beaches.  About 7 in 10 sandy beaches that are big enough for a group like ours are already taken.  So it is kind of a relief to find a good spot to camp.  Also, the lake level fluctuates a good deal from year to year, meaning that where you camped last year is probably either under water or high up on a hill this year. )

Sunday morning we headed for Hansen Creek, which was about 10 miles up channel. Our boat is a Jim Michalak design, a sailboat but one that has a lot of capacity to haul gear and people.  It was loaded down pretty well with supplies and gear  for 4 people for a 7 day trip.  Winds on LP are flukey and undependable.  When they are headed the way that I am headed, it works well to sail, but when they are weak and variable, when you have a boat full of people and gear, and when you have untried sails (newly sown by yours truly, but never tested - another story) it is just better to use the outboard.  And so we did.

We just buzzed along talking and watching the cliffs go by, and watching the progress of other members of our group.  We were the only ones using the engine.  Everyone else was either sailing, rowing or paddling.  They were keeping up pretty well.  We had two Hobie Mirages.  These are fiberglass trimarans that come equipped with a bicycle type drive that powers a couple of swim-fin like paddles under the boat.  The Hobies are very sleek and have very little drag.  John Dennison was leading the pack in his Marige, and we couldn't catch him without using full power. John and Michael (Jackson) could also sail if the wind was to their liking.

So we were following John and finally caught and passed him.  He was ready for us to go by and we did, dropping back to about half-throttle.  The chatting and watching continued for a few more  miles, until we realized that John was nowhere to be seen.  Then it hit me that we hadn't been watching very closely..... Scott fired up his GPS and we discovered that we had overshot Hansen's canyon by about 2 miles.  Turn around....look at the map....started paying attention to the buoys in the channel.  They are mile marked in distance from the dam, and are either green (odd numbers) or red (even numbers) and sometimes there is even a little white buoy at the mouth of the canyon.  How handy!  So up the canyon we went. A little breeze had sprung up and I might have been tempted to sail were it not so much work to go from motor to  sail mode.  A green trimaran was up ahead of us, and he was trying to raise a sail, but not having much luck.  He called out to us as we passed, but we
Saturday  Camp - Stanton Canyon
didn't know him and even with the motor cut way back, we couldn't hear him.  We continued up the canyon, very serpentine until we were almost at the end, about 2 miles, and Annie spotted John's yellow Hobie in a very nice, sandy basin.  John was thinking no one would find him back there, but it wasn't long before different ones started drifting in.  Pretty soon Chuck and Sandra Lienweber were there.  Chuck was rowing a John Welsford designed 'Walkabout' and Sandra in her Michalak Toto.  We kept seeing the guy in the trimaran sailing in the little basin outside of our cove, and I think that Chuck finally went out and got him.  It was Hal Link, a new messabout member, and his friend Joan Daniels.  They are very nice, and Hal is quite a sailor and has completed the Everglades Challenge twice, which is a pretty good accomplishment.
We furnished supper on Sunday.  I had made BBQ  pork and chicken, and put them over a couple of bags of  O'Brien potatoes, made a rhubarb crisp, tried a zucchini casserole that turned into zucchini soup and called it a meal.  After 8 to 10 hours or rowing and paddling, no one was critiquing the food to any great degree.

Monday found us on our way to 7 Mile Canyon.  We paid close attention to the buoys and the maps and got there about 2pm.  7 Mile is a really pretty canyon with straight up walls that seem to be a half a mile tall.  Part of the illusion is that it is narrow, and the walls are pretty close together.   We poked our way up both branches of the canyon and didn't find a place to stay.  This can be a problem as the time gets late, and you can see evening coming on. Either the walls were straight up, or there was a house boat on the sandy beach.... so we were kind of hoping to meet up with some of the others and make a plan.  There was a little nook of an inlet - maybe 100 yards deep off the channel, and we tied up on a little spit of sand and waited.  Scott hiked to the back and found some sand just about the time Kellan showed up.  He rowed to the back of the little cove and we were soon headed there as well.  Sitting here, in the living room, finding a safe place to tie the boat for the night doesn't have the same intensity of purpose.  The sun wasn't anywhere near down, but I was glad to be out of the channel.

I'm going to abbreviate the rest of the story, it is getting a little long.  We traveled up to Good Hope Bay the next day and found and nice and protected little harbor on kind of a peninsula and about half of us were on one side, and half on the other.  This was Tuesday night, and we didn't leave until Thursday morning.  We gave ourselves a day extra in case of bad weather, so we rested, some hiked, I fished a little and caught a little perch that I didn't have the heart to eat, and so released.  Anita and I rowed the big boat into the bay and ghosted back in under the mizzen sail.  I found my sails need a lot of tailoring before they will work well.

Thursday we left Good Hope Bay and headed for 5 Mile Camp.  On the way we stopped at a little island that had an abundance of gooshy green sand that would let you sink up to your knees in some places, and an abundance of petrified wood and many other odd and interesting rocks.  One specimen was a log about 16 in. in diameter and maybe 2 feet long.  I don't know what it weighed - probably a couple of hundred pounds.

Friday  we sailed from 5 Mile Camp to Hite (amazingly it was about 5 miles....where did that name come from?) and Chuck graciously ran a shuttle back to Bullfrog so that we could pick up our truck and trailers.  I had a flat tire waiting for me there, but had my tools and it wasn't a huge problem.

One more little bit of adventure:  As we traveled through the National Park on our way home, we came upon a woman talking to a man in a car by the side of the road.  When she saw us she jumped out into the road and waved us down.  She was about 40something and dressed to hike.  She asked us if we were going to the Visitor's Center, and we told her that we were headed in that direction.  She then told us that she would come with us and proceeded around to Annie's door to get in.  Annie, of course always is ready to meet new people and can charm the birds from the trees.  She could tell that this lady wasn't from around here.  It turned out that her name was Mia, and she was from the Czech Republic and had been hiking and taking a lot of pictures.  We probably drove for 5 miles before we got back to the Visitor's Center and then had to back track about 2 miles to get her to her campground, but she was a happy lady when she hopped out and knew her friends were nearby. 

I guess that is about it.  We got home late, slept in a little and unloaded the boat on Saturday.  It was a good trip, but it really isn't a bad thing to have a working bathroom within 50 feet either. 

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