Friday, May 22, 2009

"No Country for These Old Men:" The River

Dangerous Reassures Rosie

The other day Dangerous was showing me the REI Catalog. Don't start thinking he is buying expensive, high-tech hiking gear. You can tell from the picture above that Dangerous is a low tech guy. However, he does buy an occasional pair of hiking boots during closeout sales. Well, while he was thumbing through the catalog, he shared with me an ad for a K9 Float Coat. At $39.93, plus shipping, I think it is a real steal. However, Dangerous is a bit cheap and won't order it for me, so if you want to keep reading my blog, you readers need to chip in and buy me one. Unless you do, I am going to drown on one of Dangerous' crazy, backcountry expeditions.

Getting Help Crossing the River

You probably know that Aussies really like water. There is nothing I like better than a cool dip in a a lake or stream on a hot summer day. However, I don't particularly like crossing and re-crossing the Escalante River fearing that I will be swept away to Lake Powell. As you can see from the picture, I have fear in my eyes. To get across the river safely, Dangerous holds my collar and I doggy-paddle like mad. This approach works most of the time, but at his age, Dangerous sometimes struggles to maintain his footing while keeping me from being swept away. We had a few close calls when I thought both of us might have to swim for it. I figure I had a chance because Dangerous does take my pack off when crossing the river. However, I figure I might need a new home if he does a face plant in the Escalante River with his pack on. Anyone interested in taking me in?

"Two Sticks"

It is interesting the impact hiking across swift water has on different people. Any other time, you would never see Utah Jack with a hiking stick in his hand. As you can see, even he changes his style and approach to stay upright while crossing fast, deep water. You need to understand that Utah won't even take baths. He is a complete, total non-swimmer. Dangerous and Denver Dan were with him years ago when he almost drown trying to swim a short stretch of narrows. He saved himself by walking, submerged, back to the sandstone bank.

Finally, Shallow Water!

The Escalante River runs through a deep, beautiful canyon choked with Coyote willows and tamarisk. Finding a consistent trail to avoid the willows and brush is impossible. You basically follow one trail after another left by cows or other hikers that eventually "peter" out. In addition to experiencing the quiet and beauty, Dangerous loves to watch first time hikers. He isn't so much interested in their reaction to the incredible natural world they see firsthand, but how they cope with difficult hiking conditions. He takes perverse pleasure in watching first time hikers who show up wearing the latest hiking shorts. Shorts are soon abandoned for long pants followed by a long sleeved shirt if they have one. Even with your legs and arms protected you usually go home with multiple scratches and contusions. If the Coyote willows and tamarisk aren't enough, an unnoticed patch of poison ivy converts hikers to long pants in a hurry not to mention the gnats and mosquitoes.

Trials End

You might think the boys were happy to see the sign marking the end of their six day adventure. By now you have probably guessed that the difficulties and adverse conditions are part of the fun. On their way to Boulder for a cheeseburger and beer they were already discussing their next adventure. You can take these guys out of the Escalante, but you can't take the Escalante out of them. Even though they talk about giving it up, I am sure all of us will be back again.

I have attached an additional blog with the pictures of the Escalante River from the Gulch junction to the Highway 12 Bridge, Also, I have one more blog entry about the trip that I plan to share with you in a few days. I thought you might be interested in seeing and meeting some of the strange creatures that inhabit the Escalante drainage. Love to hear from you!

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