Autumn 2015 Desert Backpacking

Desert Back Packing

Wow, we sure had a great adventure in the last two weeks of October 2015. Every one of the Colorado Plateau back country trips we have taken has been uniquely excellent. This trip ranks right at the top of that list. Truly remarkable.

Ace and GenhisWe joined on to a longer and larger “trip in progress”  with Ace Kvale and his desert dawg Genghis. Ace and Genghis were at the mid way point of an epic 60 day circle through the heart of the canyon country. Beginning and ending at their home in Boulder, Utah, they traversed the Escalante River zone, crossed and re-crossed Lake Powell, went around Navajo Mountain, followed the Water Pocket Fold, kept up a super positive attitude and generally kicked ass. That’s an impressive way to ring in your sixth decade!

We started with a boat ride, courtesy Captain Max Kendall, from Bullfrog Marina down to where the Water Pocket Fold terminates into Lake Powell. There, we rendezvoused with the pair, and several other intrepid sojourners, at their final crossing of Lake Powell.  After a nice party, we set off on a 14 day backpacking adventure. This would be the longest section without re-supply, of the larger 60 day trip.

We traveled a largely unexplored and circuitous route through very complex geography. Desert BackpackingOne thing for sure, we all kept our core’s engaged. During the first 4-5 days it rained an unusual amount for that dry country. However, it rained almost exclusively at night and only after we had finished dinner and were buttoned up in our tents. It never really impeded progress at all and, even better, there was water everywhere! Waterfalls, overflowing potholes and swimming pools all across the slick rock wilderness.

We had one unfortunate mishap when one of the sojourners momentarily allowed his core to become dis-engaged. In just a split second, whamo, Man Down! The lower leg injury was not too painful and in no way life threatening but he was not going to be able walk any further. As theHeli Evac crow flies we were only about 15 miles from our vehicles and the nearest road. As the person walks it was probably 4-5 days of difficult off trail travel with constant route finding required. We used Ace’s Delorme InReach satellite communication device to arrange a heli evac. Less than 4 hours later the wounded sojourner was at his truck and on his way home for surgery. We are happy to report that a full recovery is well under way at this time.

I had never carried 14 days of food before and wasn’t sure if I was worthy of that. My pack weighed (with 2 liters of water and 1 liter of cactus juice) just about 50lbs at the start. 20 lbs of that was food. It turned out to be very tolerable.

Desert BackpackingI cannot begin to describe the route we traveled. Plus if I did I would get in trouble…. and maybe bitten. I can say that we enjoyed every step of every minute of every day. We are very grateful to have been included in this unforgettable lifetime experience. Photos never truly capture the full impact of the incredible environment and atmosphere but here is a link to my selected best of photos from this extraordinary adventure.

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