Last weekend’s trip to Lake Powell was an exploratory trip to find a place to camp with a few more people joining us. This weekend I pulled the camp trailer down and was joined by my friend Chris M., my wife’s family, and my other friend Chris G. and his family. Almost everyone drove down on Thursday evening and set up camp at Hite, with Chris and his family not joining us until Friday night. I didn’t arrive until around 7PM, with just enough time to set up camp before dark, then enjoy a few drinks before a late bedtime. Chris and I experimented with lighting some steel wool on fire and taking some long exposures by the reservoir’s shore, but the stiff breeze kept us from trying more than a couple of times.
On Friday morning, Chris and I finished exploring the slot canyon that my family and I had checked out the previous weekend. Things started out badly when I led Chris into jumping down a dryfall while believing that he could walk out the bottom to where I’d hiked last weekend, only to find out that there were two more dryfalls between there and where I’d actually hiked to. We lucked out and Chris was able to do a sketchy climb out of the slot and we resumed scrambling down the canyon. Since I didn’t have my kids with me this time, we easily descended the section that stopped me the last time. It turns out that I wasn’t missing much. Just beyond where Bradley and I turned around the last time, the canyon widens and becomes green and brushy. As we descended toward the Dirty Devil River the thick brush became too much and we climbed out of the canyon and began our overland ascent back toward the highway. Just after climbing out of the canyon we reached the high water mark of Lake Powell and found an enormous log jam. There were trees, lumber, and all sorts of debris piled up on the sandstone. We explored the old flotsam for a while before resuming our course to the east. We made way toward a cliff where we found some flint flakes but nothing else of interest. There was an old road that we encountered and followed back to the highway, the walked along the pavement back to the truck.
At camp everyone ate lunch then hopped in my truck. We drove to the southern shore at Hite and tried swimming, but it wasn’t much fun so we drove down the highway and swam at Farley Canyon which, after last weekend, we knew would be a fun place. Chris and I kept finding progressively higher cliffs to jump off of until at last we jumped off a 30′ cliff. That was plenty enough excitement for me. After everyone had their fill of swimming, we returned to camp for dinner and another night of drinks, light painting, and lighting things on fire. Relatively late on Friday evening the Gravetts arrived.
The next morning, both Chrises and I explored all of White Canyon that we could without getting too wet. It was only a few minutes’ drive from Hite to the White Canyon trailhead. We descended into the canyon without really knowing what to expect, as the only research any of us had done was me poking around in Google Earth. We scrambled into the bottom of White Canyon and headed downstream toward the Black Hole. It was more than a mile before we reached an impassible stretch of deep, cold water that nobody wanted to enter. We turned around and ascended the canyon about a mile beyond our entry point and only turned around when the canyon widened and became less interesting, but surprisingly we got more wet on the trip up the canyon from our entry point. The climb out of the canyon was the most strenuous part of the day. We stopped to find a geocache on the drive back to camp, then after lunch went to Farley Canyon again for a little swimming. Chris M. had to go home that afternoon, and that evening everyone else ate dinner together and spent quite a bit of time around the fire.
On Sunday, our last day there, Chris G. and I explored a canyon just off of UT-95. I wasn’t expecting it to be spectacular from what I’d seen in Google Earth, but the canyon was close to our camp and easy to access on foot. It turned out to be a complete dud. We descended the canyon easily and it stayed shallow and relatively wide until finally it narrowed up and dropped steeply into another canyon. The narrow section was too steep to descend without ropes, but too short to bother with finding a route around the narrows to the bottom. Instead, Chris and I walked the canyon rim upstream and found a spot to drop into the larger canyon and used that canyon to return to the truck. Along the way I was keeping an eye on the ground and cliff walls for any Indian relics, and sure enough I found some. I first spotted a nice lithic flake but couldn’t find anything else near it, so we continued exploring up the canyon until we finally found a few more. In the same area was a small alcove with a grinding stone, many lithic flakes and broken arrowheads, and a flat rock with some curious peck marks in it. That got me excited enough, but just up-canyon from there I found a couple of alcoves with stacked rocks inside that appear to have been used as granaries or shelters. By then we were close to the truck and the time was approaching when we said we’d be back to camp. I could have spent the entire day exploring further, but our families were expecting us back soon, so we drove back to camp and began the task of packing up to go home. It was nice to find some remnants of ancient cultures, but as we were speculating during the hike, I’m sure the best stuff is buried under Lake Powell and the silt accompanying it.