Jason slept for 13 hours. Ken barely slept at all because he was too cold. Ryan and Joel, more or less, slept and rose with the sun. By 9a.m. we were back on the trail. We had our bags packed up, Ryan and Joel's smelling a little less fresh. Today we knew better than to risk our ankles on the rocks to save our dry shoes. Within the first five minutes we were right back in it, soaked.
The views just got better. As we hiked further downstream the Virgin's stream was added to by smaller tributaries. The canyon walls rose hundreds of meters straight up. Deep pockets of water became more common. Joel took every opportunity to jump off boulders into the deeper pools.
The most scenic part of the journey was the last part of it. We began to see day hikers who ventured upstream and back, just part of the way. We knew we were getting close when we saw older people, more overweight people, and families wading through the waters. We still hadn't seen any dry shoes from the people on their way up. Since we were ahead of schedule we branched off one of the side canyons to explore. Jason had his glory of hero of the Christian girls as he gave them each a helping hand up the small waterfall.
Not before long, we found ourselves
once again in society. After walking on rocks like slippery bowling
balls, it felt strange to be walking on a paved sidewalk. Too tired
and lazy and cheap to do anything else, we drove to the day use parking
lot. The beer came out and then it was certain we weren't going
anywhere else that night.
Today we hiked the Angel's Landing and took off for Bryce Canyon National Park. It was a 5a.m. start for Jason since he wanted to finish the hike before the sun rose too high in the sky. Ken and Joel were more interested in sleep. Ryan was more interested in not risking his life teetering along windy cliff edges, so he secured the fort while the others were gone. The park ranger didn't think that was such a good idea though. She recorded Ryan's driver's license number to blacklist him for parking overnight in the parking lot. Ryan was also the only one who wanted to actually go to a campground that night and pay.
The Angel's Landing hike takes you up the backside of a mountain leading to a steep peak that juts up 1500 feet from the canyon floor. Most of it was either coarsely paved switchbacks, grippy rock or narrow pathway bordered by chains on one side. All of it was steep. The summit offers a spectacular view of the canyon but the hike is not for the fearful of heights. A few steps off the path would give you the shortcut ride down - sheer cliffs sometimes on both sides of you.
Jason made the climb in just over an
hour. He saw the bus that Ken and Joel got off far below. Ken
and Joel ripped up the mountain in 45 minutes. After a disappointing
launch of an airplane made from a Fig Newton box, we ran down and met up
with Ryan who took us to Bryce Canyon National Park that day.
Bryce Canyon proved to be entirely different from the previous two canyons we had visited. Never before had we seen such nice hoodoos. The ground was soft and unstable. The colors were vibrant and the unusual peaks and arches stood out boldly in front of the blue sky.
We hiked in through the Queen's Garden trail and followed the popular Peek-a-Boo trail. It was a refreshing change of pace to stroll through this relatively easy park. The heat caught up to us quickly so that was enough playing tourist for the day.
Back at the campground we just waited
for it to get too dark to read. Ryan and Jason were stuck into Lord of
The Rings books. Ken is on standby for book one as soon as it's free.
Joel has probably read more this trip than in school. After a huge
taco dinner and a campfire, we had Lake Powell to look forward to the next
Beach day. The closest we've found to Mexico outside of Mexico has been Lake Powell. We hadn't planned to go there but travelers we met in Zion told us it we'd regret it if we didn't. They were right. For six dollars a night (with our national park pass) we could camp right on the water's edge wherever we wanted. The lake was made when they dammed the Colorado river on the east side of the Grand Canyon in the 1930's. What we were left with was a really warm lake and sandy shoreline as far as we could see.
Driving the Paris-Dakar through sand
is made for 4x4's and that's for a reason. We got so stuck
gallivanting across the beach that the only sand we were moving was from the exhaust
pipe. Another camper towed us to the shore where we set up camp for
the night. By sunset the massive steaks were ablaze on the BBQ and
we'd been well refreshed from a dip in the shallow waters.
Plans changed from leaving to staying. No hiking today thank you very much. The mixed drinks came out with the frisbee and the air mattresses. We figured deserved some R&R as a vacation . . . from vacationing.
Now it's all fun and games until someone has to go to the hospital. Joel was the first one to make use of his travel insurance. We were all playing an innocent game of disk in the water when Joel sliced his big toe open on what must have been the edge of a shell. Ken, Ryan and Jason all high on the scale of zero to drunk were in no state to drive anywhere, so some helpful American friends (Jake's party) whisked him off for stitches. All patched up and drugged up, he's on his way to a good recovery.
The other eye-catching sight was
Jason's fetish-inspired artistic sand sculpture. Her name was Sandy.
It all started with two mounds of sand, then packed, then sculpted. He
then went down on her to finish her body off from breast to toe. Ken
offered his expertise to complete her full package. She was truly a
master piece and may still be there today.
A lot happened today since we were on the move. Each of us were either sunburned or injured so it was time to make our way eastward again. We made it to Moab for Saturday night.
The main attractions away from the water at Lake Powell are the slot canyons in the area. The Navajo Indians govern entrance to the advertised Antelope Canyon but we'd been tipped off by campers to where we could see the same thing for free. Five miles out of Page towards Flagstaff we pulled off the road just before a bridge and low and behold, a slot canyon. It wasn't the easiest climb down but once we made it in, we had no problem working our way around the narrow walls. In some places the only way to continue was to put one foot in front of the other, or to crawl or to climb down a metal ladder.
After a routine stop at Wal-Mart for supplies, we set out destined for mountain bike capital of the world, Moab. We made it into town (6000 people) and pulled out the beer bong. Joel and Ryan each made advances on their bong times to secure their positions in our Beer Bong Hall of Fame. Once we were good and ready, we hit the town.
Eddy McStiff's was supposed to be the
place to be. It wasn't quite the scene we were looking for but they
had food and drinks. After Ryan turned down an eating bet, and Ken
spilled his beer to soak the bill money, we took off in search of more
nightlife. There was none.
Today was a bit slow, except for Ryan and Jason's adventurous encounter with the rapids of the Colorado. We just cruised up and down the river looking for a new place to camp. We saw whitewater rafters in the river and whitewater kayakers.
We figured it would be a good idea to jump in and rumble down the rapids on our air mattresses. It was definitely one of those good idea bad idea things; it's a good idea to do it, a bad idea without a lifejacket. A park ranger lent us two and Kim of Moab lent us one more. Ken, Ryan and Jason were all set to go with Joel at the helm of the Wide Load to meet them at Big Bend. The water was warm enough and was one up on coping with the heat out of the water. The calm parts were relaxing and the rapids exciting. Ryan and Jason headed over a huge six foot wide rock drop that created a swell strong enough to gobble up Ryan's shoe and Jason's hat. As it turned out that is a spot for kayakers to do tricks on the river. Oh well. It was all a lot of fun.
We set up camp right where Joel met us
at the water's edge and got ready for the next day's adventures.
We were up early for a cool start. Ken and Ryan went off to go river rafting. Jason and Joel stayed behind to go mountain biking.
Ken and Ryan's ride left at 6a.m. The drive was a few hours to take them to what would be a full day of rafting in class three and four waters. The first few hours on the calm section of the waters was filled mostly by the rustic guide's stories and jokes. After a great lunch the afternoon was full of action in the rapids. Tired from a full day, they returned to meet up with Joel and Jason.
Joel had done his homework and had all
the main trails listed with directions. Him and Jason headed out of
town to ride a beginner trail as a warm up for the Slickrock Trail the next
day. The ride took less than two hours and offered terrain comparable
to a skate park for mountain bikes. They spent the rest of the day in
town to wait out the heat until Ryan and Ken got back.
Happy Canada Day! It's about as much news down here as elections in Kansas are in B.C. The routine of early night early morning isn't too hard knowing that we get to sleep in the coolest time of the day and get to enjoy the best part of the morning. This morning we rode what could be considered the most renowned mountain bike trail in the world, the Slickrock Trail.
We were all geared up and on the trail by 8a.m. It took three hours and offered some steep climbs and descents over the bald rock hills. The trail was well marked and was not as technical as the wet, obstacle covered trails from the North Shore or Vancouver Island. Don't be fooled into thinking that it wasn't hard though. There was something for everyone. It would be worth a return visit but only if it was Spring or Fall when the climate lends itself better to being outside. A Hummer tour of the area with a drink in hand would be the way to go in the summer.
Arches National Park was the last of the Utah parks on our list of starred items. Yes, we saw the famous arch that is on the postcards and all the license plates in Utah -- check. We also found a few other unnamed more interesting rock formations. So we named them Cock Rock and Tit Hill. The rest of the park we viewed from the comfortable seating of the Wide Load. Good-bye Utah.
Hello Colorado. By
recommendation we began a loop that would have taken us until 5a.m. to complete.
The scenery would lead you to believe that you were in a place that was a
cross between Switzerland and B.C. Basically, the detour amounted to
us cruising up to Ouray, filming some Amish people, turning around and
heading back. We made it as far as New Mexico this night. Three
states in one day, but all for a good cause.
New Orleans or bust! Today we traveled over 800 miles. We're stinky and dirty but we're determined. Must get to New Orleans before the weekend. If we're not going to party on Canada Day then we're going to make damned sure that Independence Day is going to make up for it.
Our travels took us from Aztec south
through Albuquerque and east into Texas. We made it as far as the
outskirts of Dallas before we bunkered down and plugged in for the night,
outside a drive thru breakfast diner.