The Old Buzzards Hiking Club
Then There were Three!
When Dangerous started hiking and riding the High Plateau 36 years ago, he tells me you had to stand in line to get a ticket to go with him and Utah Jack. They even had a catchy name for their back country adventures -- "S & M Toorz." Don't get too excited or offended about the name because in this case "S & M" stands for scenic and majestic and not something else you might be thinking of. In those days, Dangerous tells me that a typical group was six to eight adventurers from all over the country, and you had to make a reservation sometimes a year in advance. With age and lack of interest, the group has dwindled to three. So, during our most recent trip, we decided a more appropriate name is the "Old Buzzards Hiking Club." Since we are down to three active members, no reservations are required, and we are actively taking new applications.
Well, you're probably wondering where I have been this past year. Since I don't type, no thumbs or fingers, I haven't had anyone to transcribe my adventurers for me. It doesn't mean that Dangerous and I have been staying home, but only that I haven't had a reliable scribe. With a little prodding from past readers and his wife, I convinced Dangerous to help me again. Probably what convinced him was the support I received from those attending the "Grover Boyz" annual Labor Day picnic this year. Whatever the reason, I plan to start posting again beginning with our most recent hike on the Escalante River. I hope you will be interested in following along.
Nature Dan, Red Rock Rosie, and Dangerous Doug
I'm not sure what prompted two aging old men and a not so young sheep dog to backpack again, but I have my theories. I suspect this middle sixties pair are nostalgic about their past and are trying to recapture a bit of it before their demise. Why they dragged me along is a great mystery, but I suspect Dangerous just wanted someone else to share the pain with. Whatever their reasons for going, I do know what makes these late age trips possible -- light weight backpacking equipment. In the past, Dangerous and Nature Dan loaded their old external frame packs with over 40 pounds of equipment and supplies before trudging into the Escalante Wilderness. If Utah Jack came along, an extra ten to 15 pounds of food was always required. But on this trip, these two elderly gentlemen reduced their loads to about 25 pounds each by leaving Utah Jack home and loading me with extra water and my own dog food. Dangerous' new Osprey 58 pack weighs only 2 lbs, 10 oz, and the new MSR Pocket Rocket stove was 3 oz.
We have made the hike to Death Hollow many times over the years. What made this trip unique were the changes in distances. On our long rests after short spurts of walking, we came to the conclusion that the distances between landmarks had changed. While all the landmarks are the same, we believe that the Greek Titans visited the Escalante River since we were there last and stretched the topography somehow increasing the miles between points significantly. None of us were willing to admit that age had anything to do with the time it took us to make the round trip.
You wouldn't think it possible to improve the beauty of the Escalante Canyons, but we found on this trip that the hand of man can not only destroy but restore. Anyone who has ever hiked this beautiful canyon country complains about the Russian olive trees and tamarisk lining the river's banks. Dangerous' Mormon ancestors introduced both invasive species over 150 years ago without understanding the consequences. Both species make an almost impenetrable barrier for hikers and horses as well as suck precious water from the river and streams. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) who manages the Grand Staircase has aggressively attacked both species. Crews of young volunteers are cutting down the Russian olives and the BLM has introduced a tamarisk eating beetle which appears to be doing its job.
By now, you are probably wondering how we came up with the new name for our little hiking group -- "The Old Buzzards Hiking Club." Actually, it was the natural result of visitors to our night camps. Whenever we would lie down to rest or sleep, our two friends watched us closely for any signs of weakness. One of us had to be alert at all times to avoid one of these two from joining us for dinner, or should I say having us for dinner. When we were younger, we never had this problem.
Well, that's about all I have for now, In future posts, I will bring you up-to-date about what has happened over the past year or so along with new adventures as they occur. I have a lot of stuff to tell you like the progress on the house Dangerous and Trea are building, and new members of the family. You will enjoy hearing about Gennie the three year old filly who came to live with us in April. I will also share with you the trips Dangerous made to Yellowstone National Park to ride with Walking Horse Bill. Drop me a note occasionally! It helps to know your are interested.