Thursday, May 04, 2006

Lower Grand Gulch, Utah

-Me and “The Animal”(who earned the name The Lizard King on the trip) in the lower section of the canyon on day 3.
Last week my adventure began on Wednesday evening after work. A group of us set off for the lower Grand Gulch canyon in southern Utah. This was a special trip for my friend Will (aka, The Doctor) as it was his bachelor party. He is all set to get hitched this month in North Carolina. He planned this trip for his friends and truly made it special for everyone there. Thanks Doc!
Day 1:
Our group drove through the night and rolled up to the trail head a few hours before dawn Thursday morning. The 8+ hour drive took its toll on the group, most of which flew into Denver that day or the day before, so we unpacked the sleeping bags and crashed out on the rocks and sand at the trailhead. I was out after about ten minutes in the bag and slept for about three hours before the heat from the Utah sun woke me. We had a leisurely breakfast of eggs, bacon, bagels and coffee before gooping up good with sun screen (SPF 45) and starting our 7 mile hike to Camp #1. We soon realized that our 10:30am start was good considering that we had been driving all night, but for desert walking it was a little late. The Utah heat by noon was intense, with day time temperatures in the 80’s. Luckily the trail to camp had a couple mandatory water crossings which we all took advantage of by playing and splashing around in, making sure to get completely soaked before carrying on.
Side Note: I saw real quicksand in action for the first time on this walk. The Animal (pictured) was almost completely consumed (buried up to his waist and still sinking) in a rather deep hole near Camp #1. He was able to escape unassisted by thrusting his trekking poles into the quicksand, which completely submerged and allowed him enough leverage to jump out of there. If he had been alone and had no poles, he may have been in considerable danger…and I thought that stuff only happened in the movies.
The group strolled into Camp #1 just after 5pm and was in high spirits (most of the walk was at a slight decline...and we had just seen The Animal squirming around waist deep in mud!) We filtered water, ate dinner (pasta with marinara sauce) and lounged around into the night with most everybody turning in early (~9:30pm). I slept in my Hammock and sleeping bag between two cottonwood trees…like a log, I might add.
With the group well rested, we tried to rally an earlier start than the day before. But no such luck, by the time we were done cleaning up breakfast (oats/fruit and coffee) we only managed to shave about 30 minutes off our start time. The gang headed out for Camp#2 just after10am. Today’s walk down the canyon would reveal an ancient civilization. Not long into the walk the group came upon “Redman canyon”, so named because of the Redman pictograph at the mouth of the canyon. This was the first time I’d ever seen a non managed hieroglyph. Unfortunately it had been slightly defaced by some thoughtless moron in past years (why they manage them), but still delivered a strong presents of the ancient Anasazi people who inhabited this area.

“As the Anasazi settled into their village/farming lifestyle, recognizable regional variants or subcultures emerged, which can be usefully combined into two larger groups. The eastern branches of the Anasazi culture include the Mesa Verde Anasazi of southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado, and the Chaco Anasazi of northwestern New Mexico. The western Anasazi include the Kayenta Anasazi of northeastern Arizona and the Virgin Anasazi of southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona.”
The group made it into Camp#2 below Shaw Arch just after 6pm, after accidentally walking past it about a mile. We could not believe we missed it! With so much to look at, we forgot to find where we were going. We laughed it off and were glad to be home. This would be camp for the next two days. We prepared a large dinner of bean and veggie burritos, with fresh guacamole, jalapenos peppers, cheese and salsa. A great feed!!
*Side note: At this point the group was pretty well spent. Most of the group slept where they fell underneath the stars that night. With soar muscles and blistered feet the tequila and whiskey rations I packed were heavily taxed. The evening canyon noises are like nothing I’d ever heard. It sounded almost like a cocktail party.

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