Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Hike -- 2008

Dangerous and Rosie -- Big Pour Off

Last year, it was Grand Gulch. This year we are hiking down the Escalante River. Dangerous sent invitations out months ago while snow still covered the ground. Since then, communications among the High Plateau hikers has been constant. Deciding when and where to go takes time and delicate negotiations. Denver Dan still works full time, so we try to accommodate his schedule. Nature Dan has to check with his wife to avoid any conflicts with planned Mediterranean vacations. Utah Jack starts his usual whining about cold, stormy weather telling Dangerous he will go if he doesn't have anything better to do. Invitations are extended to others, but few choose to join me and my aging friends for a 40 mile desert hike carrying 50 lb. packs. Not many men Dangerous' and his friends' age think sleeping on the ground, eating freeze dried food, and pooping in the woods for a week is much fun. Dangerous never has to worry about me. I always show up and never complain about the weather or where Dangerous chooses to take us, and I like pooping in the woods.

Before my time, Dangerous and Utah hiked a lot more than they do today. Dangerous has told me that when he and Utah were young they spent many nights every year sleeping on the ground. If you ask Dangerous about his greatest accomplishment, he will tell you he is most proud of hiking the entire length of the Escalante River. It took him 30 years to hike the entire drainage from Hells-Backbone Bridge to Lake Powell and all the side canyons, but he did it. Utah was along for most of it, but he is missing a short section that we plan to hike this year.

Dangerous, Utah, John, Denver Dan, and Rosie

Most people who meet Dangerous always ask about hiking especially at his age. They want to know what motivates a 62 year old man to take these long wilderness walks. You probably have the same question. Well, I am not sure I can answer it in words, so I thought pictures from our 2008 Spring Hike might help you understand. Each place we visit has its unique attractions, but I think the pictures that follow easily explain our interest in Grand Gulch.

Utah and John Examine a Kiva

If you really want to get to know someone, put on your pack and spend five or seven days walking 40 or 50 miles with them. Wilderness backpacking brings out the best and worst in people. Over the years, Dangerous and Utah have forged lasting friendships with many who have come to hike with them while some visitors never return for a second trip. While last year's forced march from Kane Gulch to Collins Spring did not include Nature Dan, we did pick up a new hiker. John is Utah's youngest. Since he has a job and young family, John hasn't hiked with his dad and Dangerous since he was a kid. Utah Jack really enjoyed his son's company, and Dangerous got a set of fresh ears who feigned interest about prehistoric cultures as Dangerous lectured away at every stop. By the end of the trip, John had heard enough. I know I had!

Cactus in Bloom

Even if you aren't interested in ancient cultures, you can appreciate the beauty of Grand Gulch. Cedar Mesa in spring provides an incredible backdrop for ancient Indian ruins and rock art sites. We wander the canyon floor stopping frequently to visit a ruin or hike to an obscure rock art panel. As Dangerous tells it, stand quietly and you can almost hear the whirl of activity that surrounded the place 800 years ago. Listen closely and you can hear turkeys gobbling, dogs barking and children's voices echoing from the rock overhang. Get him going, and Dangerous will describe the sound of drums beating and voices chanting in the nearby kiva. I usually don't pick up on the sounds Dangerous imagines, but I can faintly smell the odors he describes. He always tells first time visitors that we probably would have smelled the place we are visiting before we ever saw it.

Well, I think you get the idea about what attracts my aging friends to Grand Gulch. They love the ruins and rock art, but most of all they love being outside with each other. For some unknown reason the High Plateau's deep canyons have a way of forging lasting friendships. Love to hear from you!

Since I can only include a limited number of pictures in each blog, I have attached some additional photos in an accompanying entry. I hope you enjoy them.


Becca Hatch said...

How come I haven't received my invitation? Just curious. I'll practice peeing standing up in the meantime so I don't stand out.

Me in a nutshell (heavy on the nut!) said...

I would love to go on some of these hikes this year! I don't do horses, deathly allergic. Walking suits me just fine! Maybe I can talk Bob into a hike this summer. Looks beautiful, very peaceful.