Friday, February 3, 2017

Day Eleven

Heidi our cook navigating a slot canyon
I woke up in the middle of the night for the first time and watched the moon set over a downstream rim. The sky was clear and shone brilliantly with starlight even with the absence of the torch-like moon. When I woke up a second time, clouds had moved in enshrouding the inner canyon and would stay with us until mid-morning before dissolving away. As a treat for the cook and her assistant, Bronco cooked breakfast this morning to let them sleep in and for a half hour, it was just the two of us. With the heavy clouding, people slept in and after they finally gathered in the kitchen area, we ate a breakfast of French toast served with an apple/raisin sauce and bacon.

After we got packed up and shoved off, I almost immediately saw a coyote scrambling for cover in the rocks overhead. They are definitely a hardy animal to be found way down here at the bottom of the canyon. We pushed through Forster, Fossil, Specter and Bedrock Rapids, all of which had large waves. We did hop out and quickly scout Bedrock but ran it without difficulty. The last rapid of the half-day on the river was Duebendorf Rapid and it was a dandy. We pulled into the eddy below at Stone Creek and after a lunch of pita sandwiches, hiked up the creek.

Although it had obviously been scoured clean in a flash flood several years ago, there were many waterfalls and Anasazi ruins left behind. At one point, there is an old Anasazi ruin with a door still sealed, something that may not exist anywhere else. Whether it is a forgotten grainery or perhaps a burial chamber, our guides didn't know and forbade us from walking up to it. Although it is visible with the naked eye, unless you knew what you were looking at and where, it can only be seen by binoculars. It is that well disguised and I was content to see it through the binoculars and use my imagination as to its contents.

At the very end of Stone Creek was a beautiful slot canyon with a thirty feet tall waterfall. Nick, Lee and I hunkered down in the icebox coolness of the shade and just waited out the heat of the day. We were wonderfully successful and by the time I got back to camp, supper was underway. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, yams, dressing and a salad. Eleven days out with no supplies brought in and we are still eating like kings. I'm glad I've been doing a lot of hiking or I surely would have put on several pounds by now.

I must say that the pre-dinner entertainment before supper was particularly good today. Our campsite was fairly open and little in the way of hiding behind for those who decided to bathe tonight which seemed to be a few of the younger women among the crew. For privacy sake, I kept my eyes averted as much as possible but I wouldn't be a red-blooded man if I didn't sneak a few long peeks now and then. In a land full of sharp rocks, prickly cactus and stinging scorpions, their well toned, tanned and now wet bodies certainly fell softly on the eyes.

Just as dinner was finishing up, the moon rose from behind the upstream rim of Stone Creek. The usual crowd sat around a fire and told stories well into the night while passing around some of the German's apparently bottomless supply of brandy. Why would anyone else want to do anything else with their life but repeat this day over and over?

Rock wedged near top of slot canyon


sage said...

I miss exploring slot canyons and laying out and watching the moon and stars at night. That is so natural in the desert. Here, you'd probably get wet! I remember being in a few slot canyons with a full moon and hiking around in the dark--magical times. This was quite a trip you had.

Kelly said...

Okay...I'm trying to imagine myself trying to climb around like your cook, Heidi, in that first photo.

Nope. Not even in my better days.

Ed said...

Sage - Not to mention here if it is fit to sleep out overnight, the mosquitoes will carry you off if you aren't at least in a tent!

Kelly - I'm sure I could still do it right now, but my chances of falling and breaking many bones in my body are much much higher than back then! The rock was actually a pretty sticky rock if you are wearing hiking shoes or other rubber soled shoes. It didn't take a lot of effort but it did take a lot of faith that you weren't going to slip off!

Leigh said...

Ah, but if you repeated it over and over it wouldn't be all that special, would it? ;) You certainly have some excellent and wonderful memories to take with you forever.

Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

The layers of the canyon are so pretty and probably helpful in navigating them like in this picture, but I'm with Kelly...nope. I like hiking, but climbing makes me nervous.

Ed said...

Leigh - I've thought about that very question a lot. Perhaps. However, I think for me is resonated so much that I could have stayed down there forever. The hard part would have been what to do for a living. Herding clients through the canyon wouldn't be something I could so.

Pumpkin Delight - I'm not a rock climber by any means thanks to a healthy respect for heights. On the majority of our hikes (with the one up Elves Chasm being the lone exception) there was not a lot trails that were "exposed" to cause one to worry, unless one deliberately chose to walk off the trail and get closer to the edge!