Kirk Marshall Photography: Blog en-us (C) Kirk Marshall Photography (Kirk Marshall Photography) Thu, 30 Mar 2017 21:49:00 GMT Thu, 30 Mar 2017 21:49:00 GMT Kirk Marshall Photography: Blog 120 120 Grand Canyon Pippa and I visited Toroweap, AZ over Thanksgiving last year.

Toroweap is on the inner rim of the Grand Canyon and is an amazing place to hang out for a few days. The view down into the canyon is head-spinningly awesome. The site is relatively undeveloped, at least compared to the North Rim or South Rim Villages. No guard rails, no paved paths, no tourist buses. The vertical drop to the river is about 2500' and you could probably toss a rock (but don't do that, you might hit someone) and make a splash; it's that straight down. I'm not acrophobic but standing at the edge, looking down, my head spins.

We spent one sunny afternoon on the rocks overlooking Lava Falls and I shot this image as three rafts were on the last flat-water before the falls. The image is stitched from three photos and is greatly reduced for web consumption. In the full size version, if you look closely, you can pick out the three rafts which are probably 3/4 of a mile away. In this smaller version they're all but invisible.

This image is looking west, downstream and Lava Falls is just past the left-facing point in the river bank in the shadowy area right in the middle of it. From my vantage point here the falls don't look like much, but they are. Rated as 8-10 on the Grand Canyon Scale and IV on the international scale, this is the most talked about rapid on the Colorado river.

Three Rafts for Lava, Grand Canyon NP, AZThree Rafts for Lava, Grand Canyon NP, AZRiver rafts, barely visible, float through the Grand Canyon on the final approach to Lava Falls.


]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) black canyon desert falls grand lava national park raft rapids river toroweap tuweep white Mon, 10 Apr 2017 17:00:00 GMT
Hello again. So it's been a while since I've posted anything. I don't really have any excuse, I've just been lazy.

I was passing through Price, UT last year and had some time to kill so I wandered up and down Main Street window shopping. This scene struck me and I stopped to make the image.

Loan Woman, Price, UTLoan Woman, Price, UTReflections muddle the view into a storefront on Main Street in Price, UT.


]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) black loans price utah white woman Mon, 03 Apr 2017 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 28 Friday, March 28, 2014

Sting wrote: "men go crazy in congregations, they only get better one by one".

The line comes from the song "All This Time" which is about a son who wants to bury his father at sea instead of the traditional burial in the ground which is prescribed by his childhood religion. The conflict between the current desires of our hearts and the traditions of our upbringing can be stark. 

I've been on the 'one' side of the scale for the last three weeks and I'm wondering... am I better?

The thoughts I've written in this journal are not those I learned from in my childhood. I've come to these ideas over the last decade and embraced them in spurts. However, embracing new points of view requires setting aside the old ones which, depending on the depth to which those old points of view are ingrained in our being, can feel like suicide or at the very least an ectomy of sorts. But I think that's just what I've needed. I can't be 'me' while living to someone else's rules and I don't always have the strength to live by my own rules while enduring the onslaught of societal pressures.

This trip has allowed me to gain a measure of distance from my congregation and given me the opportunity to 'get better', if only marginally and momentarily. Right now I feel independently 'me', and if nothing else comes of this adventure, that alone makes it all worthwhile.

]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) Tue, 18 Oct 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 27 Thursday, March 27, 2014

Last night the wind was minimal and I slept well. I'm up at dawn to take a few more photographs.  

Since I didn't get a proper dinner last night I'm especially hungry this morning. After returning from the overlook I put on a double dose of oatmeal and light the stove.

While it's cooking I turn on the radio to hear the weather forecast. Oh joy, more wind, today is supposed to be just like yesterday. That's it. I'm done. There's a perfectly good hotel just across the bay. I'm sure they would be delighted to take my money and give me one of their deluxe, wind-free rooms for the night. I start packing.

I'm packed and the oatmeal hasn't even started boiling yet. Damn, the fuel canister must be getting low.  I turn up the flame and give it a few more minutes but finally give up and eat it half-cooked.

By the time I launch the wind has already whipped up white caps here and there across the bay. Once I'm out of the small, protected cove I turn and head toward the marina at about 45° off straight downwind. Both the wind and the waves are pushing me about, partly helping, partly not. They're pushing me downwind but with each passing wave are nudging me to turn me broadside to the waves, not good. I have to stay vigilant and but thankfully I reach the dock without incident.

Safely ashore it starts to sink in that I'm done. I paddled from Wahweap to Bullfrog. Damn! A sense of great satisfaction washes over me and I breath in and savor the moment.

Now to get to the hotel.

I can probably hike there, it's not far, maybe half a mile, but I can't take the boat; obviously.

I ask the park ranger/police about leaving my kayak until Pippa arrives with the car, they would prefer I don't leave it there and ask me to hang out for a few minutes. Soon they come back and let me know they've arranged transportation for me and my gear. Apparently a bass fisherman whose boat swamped and called for a rescue is coming in. He's going to give me a lift. He motors in, ties up to the dock and heads up the ramp to get his trailer. After loading his boat on the trailer, we lift my kayak on top of his boat and drive up the road to the hotel.  He dumps me on the front lawn and heads off.

I check in, get a ground floor room and haul all my gear to the back patio.

A long hot shower, dinner in the restaurant, a soft bed... all of it wind free.

Save]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) abstract bullfrog canyon desert glen kayak lake powell utah Tue, 27 Sep 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 26 part 3 March 26, 2014, part 3

About 5:00 PM the wind intensity increases noticeably and the downwind view to the east darkens. I glance back over my shoulder to the west, upwind and see a wall of darkness, dust, sand, debris and tumbleweeds bearing down on me. The cold front is here, and it looks pissed. It looks like an overly dramatic scene from a disaster movie, but it's no movie, this is as real as it gets. I grab the Nikon AW110 camera (waterproof equals dust proof, right?) and head down to the beach to watch it come through.  Within minutes it slaps me, blasting me with everything that's been swept up in its fury. The sandstone hills surrounding me alternately fade and sharpen as the clouds of dust obscure the view.

For a minute or two, big, dirty, drops of rain pelt me and the ground but stop as quickly as they started. Gusts of wind careen off the steep sided hills and are channeled down to the water's edge where they hit the water with such force they lift droplets off the surface of the lake spraying them downwind causing them to dance and skip across the surfaced before getting reassimilated into the darkened surface.

With the wind still howling and the sun about to set I stow the camera and grab some dinner. Cooking doesn't seem like an option so I grab a lunch packet and sit down to eat. With the passing of the cold front and the onset of night the temperature is dropping rapidly. Factor in the windchill and it's no surprise that I'm chilled, shivering and in risk of hypothermia.

I need to either get into bed or build a fire. The challenge of trying to get my bed laid out, with me in it, without loosing anything is more than I want to tackle; so I start collecting wood for a fire.

Going through the motions of collecting wood is helping warm my core, slightly. After collecting enough tinder, kindling and wood to start and keep the fire alive for a few hours I pull out a lighter and try to get it going. I've positioned myself in the bottom of the shallow wash to try and get out of the wind as much as possible but every time I try to light the fire the wind blows it out. I can't even get the lighter to stay lit long enough to have the tinder catch. Using my body as a windbreak and timing my next attempt during a lull I manage to get the tinder to light but the next gust of wind kills it. Damn.

To hell with this. I climb out of the wash and hike up to camp and grab the stove. Back in the wash I light the stove and shove the roaring burner under the pile of twigs and directly into the handful of tinder. In seconds the stack is on fire.  I'm worried the fuel canister might explode so I quickly pull it out and turn it off. But still, the wind is too strong and it blows the fire out again.

So again, I light the stove and shove it back into the pile, this time I leave it there piling on additional kindling and sticks until I'm sure the fire will survive on its own. With the wind fanning the flames, its soon roaring on its own and giving me the warmth I need.

For 30 minutes I manage to keep it alive and it returns the favor but it takes constant vigilance. The embers, which would normally accumulate at the bottom of the fire adding mass and warmth to it, are blown away into the darkness with each passing gust. This isn't working well enough, I'm still cold.

Reluctantly I head to bed, nervous about trying to layout my gear in the wind.

Starting with the tarp, I carefully unpack one piece of gear at a time. Keeping the tarp close to the ground I kneel in the middle and drag a few of the bread-loaf sized rocks onto the corners. Next I unroll the Thermarest, lay it flat and fold the tarp over it with the fold-side to the wind. Lastly, in the protected envelope of the tarp, I pull the sleeping bag out of it's stuff sack and quickly push my legs down into it both to hold it down and to get warm. The warming effect is almost immediate, just getting out of the wind is a huge improvement but the added insulation of the down is lifesaving.

I'm still fully dressed and have no desire to change anything except my hat. My sleeping hat is much warmer than the one I'm wearing so I sit up to swap them and in between hats a gust hits me and blows another handful of dust into my face, beard and hair. Ah, now that I'm fully dusted, I'm ready for sleep. Ha!

I lay down and pull the tarp over my upper body and head to shelter me from the wind and sand. I'm not comfortable since the Thermarest hasn't had time to inflate and through it I can feel the cold rock below me, but I'm getting warmer and very happy to be horizontal.

I lay there for 15 or 20 minutes holding the corner of the tarp to stop it from flapping against my head and then suddenly I realize that the wind has stopped. Completely, amazingly, stopped. I pull the tarp back and sit up into calm night air.

SaveSave]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) canyon cold desert front kayak lake powell storm utah wind Tue, 20 Sep 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 26 part 2 As I sit, I realize the wind is growing stronger. I try and compare it to the storm from last week and my perception is that it is now blowing steadily as hard as it was gusting last week. Yikes. It's going to be an interesting day.

After an hour sitting and watching my stuff get buffeted about and having no additional incidents, I'm confident that it's all going to stay put if I wander off. So I do...

This time, I finally reach the overlook. The view is to the south, southwest directly into the wind looking over Hall Creek Bay. The wind is fierce and steady and as I'm standing, no, leaning into it, looking at the view, I glance down at the ground and realize my nose is a full 18" in front of my toes. I have the feeling that if I just had the courage to spread my arms wide, I might fly.

Instead, I back down the leeward side of the hill and sit down behind a low rock outcrop which deflects the wind enough to make it tolerable. I sit and watch the turmoil below as sand and branches and tumbleweeds fly about. I track several tumbleweeds across the valley floor and watch them get pushed into the water on the near side of the inlet. Once in the water they slow down but continue moving downwind to the sandy spit on the other side of the inlet where to my amazement the wind is pushing them out of the water and up the low sand hill. Upon cresting the hill they quickly roll back down the other side and into the water again and slowly move across the Bay toward the marina.

In the air in front of me ravens fly twisting, banking, tucking, diving and climbing in the gusts over the valley floor. Once one appeared to be upside down for a moment. They try to land but the wind appears to be too strong and they lift off again almost immediately.

After about 45 minutes I head back to camp. I eat some lunch and with it get a healthy dose of grit.

Most of the afternoon I spend hunkered down trying, unsuccessfully, to avoid getting sand blasted.  I'm wrapped up in my paddling pats and rain shell with the face-opening narrowed down to just a slit big enough to see through so I can watch the mayhem fly by. The pelting sand is constant and occasionally I'm hit with small pieces of bushes; twice, tumbleweeds crash into my back as they roll by.

]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) bullfrog canyon desert kayak lake powell utah wind Tue, 13 Sep 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 26 part 1 Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Last night was calm and peaceful. I slept well.

I wake just before sunrise and see the moon has risen and is shining through a few clouds to the east. Hoping for a nice sunrise, I get up and head back up to the overlook to photograph the morning light.

As I start back down the hill I notice that the wind has already picked up. It is going to be a blustery day.

As breakfast is cooking I scurry about collecting my gear, putting everything away and clipping or tying all the bags together. My tarp, pad and sleeping bag I leave out and put rocks, about as big as loaves of bread, around the edges. The mess of dry bags and stuff sacks I plop on top of the sleeping bag to hold it all down. With breakfast finished and put away, I add the kitchen gear to the heap and I sit down to watch it blow.

Watching wind isn't all that exciting, so I decide to head west and climb to the overlook to Hall's Creek Bay.

On my first attempt to reach the overlook, I start out across the valley floor into the wind, which is growing stronger, and I'm surprised by all of the debris blowing by--sand, dust, small branches, entire tumbleweeds--but don't think much of it until I start to climb the sandstone dune and stop to look back at camp. There I see my gear all packed and piled on top of my unpacked sleeping setup. And I think 'that's really stupid'. Why didn't I pack up my sleeping stuff? If a corner of the tarp comes loose it'll blow halfway to Hanksville and take everything with it. So, down I go to pack my sleeping bag, clothes, and tarp into their dry bag.

On my second attempt to reach the overlook, I retrace my steps through the blowing debris on the valley floor and start up the slick rock dune. This time I almost reach the saddle before looking back at camp. All the bags are right where I left them. I smile confidently. Then I glance at the kayak. Shit, the wind has blown it upside down! It's fully out of the water but lying at an angle such that if it rolls over several times it could be back in the water. Damn, if it rolls into the water I'm screwed! Panicked I race down the hill as fast as my sore knee can stand and across the valley floor.

When I arrive at the boat its still upside down and I can see that the bow and rudder would probably prevent it from rolling further.  Even so, I right it, drag it another 15' from the water and place it carefully so that another roll is unlikely.

Exhausted from the exertion and stress, I sit down for a while to watch it blow and keep my eye on the boat and bags.

Save]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) bullfrog canyon desert glen kayak lake powell utah Wed, 07 Sep 2016 17:27:50 GMT
A March across Powell, 25 This morning I paddle into Hall's Crossing and stop at the marina. Before I eat lunch, I stop in the bathroom and wash my hands, with warm running water. Ah, the pleasures of civilization. It's the little things, right?

After lunch, I head north thinking I'll find a camp site near Stanton Creek Campground but the water level is so low that the shoreline, which is very low angle, is mud and muck for dozens of yards. Furthermore, there's very little protection from the wind--not that it's blowing now but if the weather report is right, it soon will be.

I need a break so I find a less-mucky place and get out and walk about for a few minutes. The water bottle is helping my knee but I still need the time out of the boat to work some motion back into it.

Back in the boat I head northwest to the opposite shore where I find a cove just opposite the Bull Frog Marina. There's a short beach, a flat-topped, sandstone bulge beside it where I can set up camp and access to the sandstone hills behind so I can get a view of both Bull Frog and Hall Creek Marinas. I settle in.

After dinner I climb the hills behind me and shoot a few panoramas of Bay below. I can see all the way down to Halls Crossing. Nice.

Save]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) black canyon desert kayak lake powell utah white Tue, 30 Aug 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 24 I awake just before dawn and hike back up to the overlook to shoot the sunrise. After the gold washes out of the light, I head back to camp and pack while breakfast is cooking.

I'd like to make 10 miles today and in order to do so I'm going to have to occasionally get out of the boat to loosen up my knee and back. The channel today has a lot of curves and I've noticed there's usually a beachable spot on the down-channel side of them. So, I plan on stopping just before every point-rounding which should come out to be about every 20 to 30 minutes. Hopefully the combination of short paddles and frequent stops will get me 10 miles closer to Bull Frog.

After rounding the second point I encounter two kayakers headed the other way.  We raft up and exchange stories and beta for a few minutes before parting.

Paddling and stopping I continue up the channel to the point at green buoy #87 where I can't find a takeout. So far the plan has been working but cumulatively the sitting is taking its toll and I'm needing to get out of the boat more frequently. In an attempt to prolong the onset of numbness I shift my butt back and forth and tighten my cheeks on every nth paddle stroke in an effort to keep blood flowing to the region. Thankfully, once I round the point I spy a beach on the opposite shore and head for it.

I struggle my way out of the kayak and wander around the beach for a while. As I'm walking and stretching it dawns on me that perhaps my knee issue is due to over extension of the joint. I haven't been using the rudder much and just sit with my legs straight out in front of me. The problem is that my butt is in the seat which is an inch or two above the hull; the heels of my feet are also on the hull but the rest of my leg is unsupported.

Anxious to test my theory and get another few miles behind me I shoehorn myself back into the boat. Once settled, I place my Nalgene water bottle under my knee to support it and hold it up a bit. The bottle isn't quite tall enough so I fold up my paddling jacket and use it as padding between me and the bottle.

The bottle helps, yeah! But the damage is already done and probably won't feel better for a while.

I paddle down to the next point at green buoy #89 (about 10 miles, wahoo I made it), find a fabulous little alcove and call it home for the night.

Save]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) canyon desert kayak lake powell red rincon sandstone utah Wed, 24 Aug 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 23 Sunday, March 23, 2014

After the fleet of early morning bass fishermen speeds past, I pack and launch into a tailwind. Ah, a blessed tailwind. But the one disadvantage of a tailwind is you don't feel it. Consequently, within minutes I'm too hot and have to pull out to shed some layers. Soon I'm down to just my t-shirt and I'm still too hot. With nothing else to take off I resort to dipping my hat in the water which cools off my head.

The channel today winds in a long, slow 'S' with steep, narrow walls. There are few spots to pull out and stretch my legs so by the time I reach the Rincon my lower back and hips are tight and stiff and my legs and feet are going numb. I struggle out of the boat and move slowly about the beach to recover. After 30 minutes of wiggling, massaging and stretching I feel mostly normal. I say 'mostly normal' because my left knee is still sore. I first noticed it this morning when I woke up and after several hours in the kayak it's worse. I'm limping significantly. I resolve to stop and get out of the boat more often. 

Sandstone No.4Sandstone No.4

After setting up camp, eating and resting I decide to wander around a bit. Tomorrow I'm planning to take a day off from paddling and I'm considering hiking to the rim above up the trail in the back of the Rincon. Maybe I can find the start of it today. I grab my camera, just in case, and head off.

I don't get far before I realize a) it's hot and I should have brought water, b) I find the start of the trail and c) my knee is too sore for this kind of abuse. I head back to camp circuitously, stopping at a few overlooks, one looking east, another west.  The views are nice so I resolve to come back for sunset, or sunrise, or both and head down to camp. 

Sandstone No.5Sandstone No.5

NOAA is forecasting another storm with high winds on Wednesday and Thursday. I was planning on hanging out here for a few days before heading into Bullfrog where I'm to meet Pippa on Saturday. Maybe I should rethink my plans.

Instead of a rest day tomorrow exploring the Rincon, which I wouldn't have been able to do anyway with my messed up knee, I'm going to move on and get to Bullfrog Bay before the cold front hits on Wednesday.  Hopefully I can find a spot on the west side of the bay where I can weather the storm, explore, hike, whatever, until Saturday.

At sunset I limp back up to the overlook and shoot some shots of the sunset. Later, back at camp, bugs--mosquitos, gnats and no-see-ums--start to eat me so I head off to bed and take the tent with me. This is the third time I've set it up and the only time it's been of any use.


]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) canyon desert kayak lake powell rincon utah Tue, 16 Aug 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 22 March 22, 2014; Saturday

37° 17.48 110° 32.24

It was another beautiful night and I slept well.

I wake just before sunrise and peeking out from the shelter and comfort of my cocoon the scene inspires me to get up to take a few photos.

Another dream: I was in an unfamiliar town having arrived there with another man. We'd done something wrong, not terribly wrong, but enough to offend the local police chief, who was after us. We drove around together in my truck for a bit, trying to get away but then we ditched the truck and split up on foot. I walked through an open market area and was recognized by a store owner who started broadcasting my whereabouts on a radio station. I quickly left the market, started hitchhiking and got picked up by a woman in a small two seat convertible sports car. I rode around with her for a while and each time a car would pass in the other direction I'd bend down to re-tie my shoes.

I recently read Guns, Germs and Steel and was impressed by the author's analysis of how our progression from hunter/gatherer societies to where we are today has been enabled by leisure time. The surpluses generated by growing crops led to idle time which was put to use by creatives to develop writing, metals, sciences, etc. By that measure we are the most idle society since the dawn of civilization but to what advantage? To what use are we putting it? Are we wasting the gifts our ancestors have bestowed upon us? How can we not? (We? Perhaps I should have written "I".)




]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) canyon desert glen kayak lake powell red rock solo utah Tue, 02 Aug 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 21 March 21, 2014; Friday

All night I slept soundly to the babble of the waterfall trickling down the rock and gently splashing in the pool next to me. The Cathedral, which seemed excessively cold all afternoon, was pleasantly cool all night.

This morning I remembered a few of my dreams, which is unusual for me.

In one scene I was driving through 12" of new snow around a building complex and I bumped over a pile of trash made up of old carpet and padding. I got out of the car to restack it when a younger man walked by.

In another scene I was traveling and passed by a winery so I stopped and went in. The lobby was octagonal with eight nearly identical doors in each wall. One or two were slightly larger. One was marked 'Private Residence, No Girl Scout Cookies'. I rang a buzzer on one door but no one ever answered. I couldn't figure out where the exit was.

In the cool of the morning I paddle up the Escalante and then up Davis Gulch hoping to see an arch.  I got all the way to the end of the water at the back of the  Gulch without seeing it. Maybe the lake is so low that it's further up the canyon. I sit in the kayak for a few minutes thinking about hiking but the shoreline is extremely soft and the first 100 yards look like hip-deep quicksand. I opt to forgo the slog through the muck and turn around and head back.

The hours of sitting in the boat each day are taking their toll on me; my back, butt and legs are getting stiff and numb. I'm having to stop hourly to get out and stretch, walk and work feeling back into my bottom half.

As I leave Davis Gulch it's dead calm, not a ripple, not a swell, not a sound but the rhythm of my paddle as it sweeps through the water. I stopped paddling for a time to listen to the lack of sound, hushed silence, magical.

In the calm I glide past a soon-to-be-fish-food lady bug doing the back stroke in the water. I lift it out of the water and onto the top of the kayak where it rides along for a while until it's dried out, without so much as a 'thank you' it flies off.

NOAA is forecasting a 20% chance of rain tomorrow. Maybe I'll get to use my tent again.

Right Arrow, Glen Canyon NRA, UTRight Arrow, Glen Canyon NRA, UTAn arbitrary rock feature reflected in the surface of Lake Powell creates a familiar symbol.

Save]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) black canyon desert kayak lake utah white Tue, 26 Jul 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 20 Thursday, March 20, 2014

I woke last night while the moon was up and shot a panorama of Hole in the Rock. Even by moonlight it looks like a crazy wagon ride to the bottom.

This morning I paddled the two miles to the confluence with the Escalante River. I turned north into the Escalante arm and then after a few bends in the channel made another left into Clear Creek Canyon.  At the back of the canyon is one of the gems of the Glen Canyon Recreation Area: Cathedral in the Desert. Fortunately I'm here in a low water year since at full-pool the nave and lower part of the apse are buried in the black depths of the lake.  When exposed, the apse is especially majestic in that it includes a small perennial waterfall which, luckily for me, is partially exposed.

At the back of the apse (or alcove) is a sandbar just big enough for a dry campsite. As I paddle in there's another boat (~20' motorboat) nosed into the sand. As I beach the kayak and climb out, the boat's occupants greet me and we chat for a few minutes while we eat our respective lunches. They're from Draper, UT and are out for the first run of the season. Soon, they'll be down here again with their grandkids. As they're readying to go I ask them if by any chance they have a half-roll of toilet paper they could gift me. Thankfully they have one and even more thankfully they're willing to share, so I thank them profusely and they motor off.

The rumbling of their motor persists for a few minutes after they disappear around the bend but soon it fades to silence. I'm alone.

So what's the point of assuming a deterministic view of life? I dunno, maybe there isn't any point.

I started this line of thought based on the discussion Anna and I were having when she posed the question 'what's wrong with the world?' (I'm paraphrasing a bit but that was the gist of it.) If we answer that question; or any other like it, such as 'what's wrong with my life' or ' what's wrong with my spouse' or 'if you could change one thing about blah, what would it be'; from a deterministic point of view the answer will always be the same: 'nothing'. Nothing is wrong with the world, with my life, with my spouse. Everything is exactly the way that it should be. In fact the world, my life, my spouse, are perfect just as they are.

Maybe there is a point after all.

I spend the afternoon experimenting with my camera and resting. As the sun sets beyond my narrow view of the sky the light in the canyon dims and bats, at least five of them, flap about in the void above me. As I sit quietly, still, watching, some pass so close I can hear the hushed flap-tap-flap of their wings as they beat past my head hunting the bugs that are bugging me.

]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) canyon cathedral desert kayak lake powell red redrock rock sandstone utah waterfall Tue, 19 Jul 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 19 March 19, 2014. Wednesday.

I wake at 3:00am after having slept soundly for six hours. I feel alert and ready to rise but it's still too early to get up so I stay comfortably tucked into my sleeping bag and after a while I drift off again. When I wake again the position of moon tells me that now it's time to get up. Leaving the warmth of my bag I dress and collect my camera, tripod and accessories and with an energy bar to munch for breakfast I head up the gully by headlamp toward the plateau above.

In the dark I make a wrong turn, or two, but catch my errors quickly and only have to backtrack a bit. I'm glad I worked out the route yesterday in the daylight. I quickly top-out, work my way over to the overlook and start to set up my tripod and camera just as the light is filling in. Perfect timing.

Moonset over Lake Powell, Glen Canyon NRA, UTMoonset over Lake Powell, Glen Canyon NRA, UT

I brought my cell phone just in case I could get a signal from up here. While I'm setting up the camera it starts chirping with messages its downloading. Amazing, this is the first time I've had reception in several days and it's great. I use the connectivity to send a few messages and post a picture or two to Facebook. Just before heading down I try calling Pippa, the call goes through and we're able to talk for a few minutes. Nice.

Once I pack the boat and launch I'm surprised to find I've got a tailwind, it's really more of a tail-breeze but it's pushing me down the channel. Other than the tail-gale I experienced on the way to Rainbow Bridge this is the only tailwind I've had. I'll take it!

At the confluence with the Colorado I turn right and find that again I've got a headwind. Ugh. The combination of the breeze with the cool morning air chills my core. Somehow I splash my left hand and the evaporating water starts to numb my fingers. I spot a beach and pull out to redress, donning my paddling jacket and full-fingered neoprene gloves. Back on the water I round the next point in about 15 minutes and the wind dies. Okay, now I'm too warm so I pull off the paddling jacket and stuff it under the tie-downs in front of the cockpit in case I need it again. 

I paddle the rest of the way into Hole in the Rock on calm, flat, glassy, black water. With the reflection of the towering walls and blue sky in the depths below me its like I'm gliding through a thin crack between two identical worlds.

I pull up onto a spit opposite Hole in the Rock to camp at 37° 14.92 110° 52.87.

So, back to the point of view discussion...

Here we have two points of view each quite different from each other. There may be other ways to look at life but let's consider these two for a moment.

If we choose to view life, others, etc. from the point of view that we have freewill and can choose our actions what do we get? Well, just look around, this has been our dominant view of the world for centuries. And what do we have? War, destruction, cheating, lying, abuse, psychological manipulations, and on and on.

What would be the result if we assumed a deterministic point of view? A deterministic point of view eliminates our ability to judge, or assign value to a situation or outcome. Everything becomes akin to the weather in that there's nothing we can do about it so we just accept it and get on with life. Sure, we judge a windy, rainy day and call it 'bad weather' but go 'postal' on it? Hardly. Wars aren't started over a blizzard.

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert Pirsig talks of three levels of stillness: physical stillness, where one remains motionless for a time; mental stillness, where one quiets the mind and attempts to think of nothing; and value stillness, where one is free from values or judgement.  A deterministic point of view achieves value stillness.

So what? If I assume a deterministic view will my teeth suddenly be whiter? My car consume less gas? No, life will appear in all visible ways to proceed exactly as it does now.  If you've got a gas-guzzling car it's not suddenly going to run more efficiently.  So what's the point then? Why bother changing your point of view? (to be continued...)

I'm sitting here staring at Hole in the Rock imagining the insanity (read: religious fanaticism)  that could convince anyone to drive a horse-drawn wagon down that hill.  How could anyone, ever, think 'oh, this is a good idea'? Just so you know I've stood at the top of that hill and it looks every bit as stupid from up there. The killer is that once they got to the bottom their troubles had just begun. Getting from the bottom, here at Cottonwood Wash, over to Bluff, UT is every bit as arduous as getting down that hill. Crazy I tell you, it's plumb loco. 

About a dozen times today I worked on stretching out my lower back.  This evening it's still a bit sore as I'm sure it will be for a few more days but it's looser and not nearly as painful as it was yesterday.  I just need to keep stretching and remember 'lift with your legs'.

The rash on my ankles and feet is still there. I'm beginning to think its excessive dryness. I rubbed a bit of lotion into the skin so I'll see how if feels in the morning. Unfortunately I didn't bring much lotion and I'm using most of it on my hands and I'd like to not run out.  I brought some bike chain lube just in case I need to lubricate rudder cables or something mechanical, maybe I can use that on my ankles, but that's not very appealing.


Save]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) Hole in the Rock canyon desert glen kayak lake powell Tue, 12 Jul 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 18 Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The wind went on for hours last night, unable to sleep I tossed and turned and watched the moon come up and creep across the sky. The wind blew on, tormenting me, as I tried to sleep and stay warm and keep the blowing sand at bay.  I succeeded at none of those.

Just before dawn the wind blew itself out. With the ensuing peace I passed out and slept right through sunrise.

When I finally rise, I start a double helping of oatmeal on the stove and start shuttling the kayak and gear back toward the shore. I first load the back half of the boat and prepare to slide it back toward the water.  As I go to lift it across the rock I forget the rule "lift with your knees, not your back" and twinge my lower back. Ouch. Shit. I've done this before and though painful I can get by and usually work it out in a few days with some serious stretching. I hope that's true this time.

I finish packing and launch into glassy water, a beautiful morning for paddling, cool air, warm sun, smooth water. Stroke, glide, stroke, glide.  After several hours I arrive at Buoy #57 and realize that I'm at the mouth of the San Juan Arm and that now I'm on the back page of the map, wahoo! Another milestone.

I paddle up the San Juan Arm and camp at 37° 11.92 110° 52.04.

There's a small gully here that I'm hoping will allow access to the rim above and an overlook of the gooseneck to the south.  After beaching the kayak and eating lunch I head up the gully exploring and looking for an easy way through the cliff bands to the rim above. After snaking around I bit I make it up to the rim and walk out to the edge overlooking the river channel. The view's good but not as great as I was hoping. The map shows another smaller gooseneck just east of this one and I was hopeful that I could see both, but I can't.  I'm not high enough. The cliffs rise another couple of hundred feet above me but there's no way that I can see to get up on top of them.

Back at camp I splash off in the lake and wash the sand from last few days off me and rinse out my clothes. The gully is full of drift wood so I build a fire because even through it's early I'm already in shadow since the canyon walls to the west are close and tall.

What a beautiful night, calm and cool. I lay on my pad for a while with my bag over me like a blanket and stare up at the narrow strip of sky above me. Orion twinkles above me in the blackness as I drift off.

]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) canyon desert glen juan kayak lake powell red rock san utah Tue, 05 Jul 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 17 March 17, 2014

I slept soundly for about six hours until I had to get up and pee.  After that I was in and out until dawn. The overnight winds fluttered the tarp once or twice but were mostly calm.

As I'm getting up I turn on the radio for a weather update. This morning they've updated the forecast to 25-35 mph with gusts to 55.  Okay, I'm not going anywhere. The forecast predicts the front will move through the area this afternoon/evening after which the winds will die down.  I'm hoping.

After breakfast I pack everything away and make sure it's all tied down and head off for a walk.  Between the lake on my north and the cliffs on the south I can't go too far but there are a lot of nooks and crannies to explore and they keep me busy for a couple of hours. As I'm exploring and photographing, the wind is steadily building. As I wader to the west I get a glimpse of the windsock on the pump-out station which during the gusts is straight and horizontal.  I don't know it's rating but it looks like we're exceeding it. Yep, it's gonna blow.

The Lost Hat, Glen Canyon NRA, UTThe Lost Hat, Glen Canyon NRA, UTA lost hat on the beach of Lake Powell, UT.


We're taught right from wrong to control us, or to get us to control ourselves and conform to society.  We're taught societal rules based on the notion that we can choose and have control over our actions.  My lady-friend had a choice, she could choose to break the hood ornament from that car or not. We refer to that freedom of choice as freewill and it's a fundamental tenet of our system of beliefs.

We view our whole world through that basic assumption, that we can choose our actions. The person who has offended us choose to offend us, therefore we're justified in our revenge. But what if we change our point of view and view the world, our lives, others, everything not as if we have a choice, but as if everything, all our actions, all the action of others, are predetermined?  What if we viewed every moment, word and action of our entire lives like a huge complex movie script? That all we, and everyone with which we come in contact, are doing is just playing our predefined role?

How does that change our view, if at all?

Before we proceed, let me be clear. I'm not saying that that is how it is, that we don't have a choice in our actions, that freewill doesn't exist. I'm just asking what happens, how does our view of the world, life, the actions of others, the actions of ourselves, change, if at all, by assuming a different perspective.

A few days ago when it was windy, I marveled at the different perspectives I had between sitting in the puny kayak bouncing among the wave verses standing on a rise of an island looking at them from solid, stable rock. Which point of view of the lake is right, which is correct? The one from amid the turbulence and turmoil with death by drowning just a moment away or the one from the relative safety of the shore where the lake appears to have only a slight ripple?  Okay, maybe this is a bad example with too much emotion wrapped up in it, but it got us started. Let's try another scenario.

Here's one point of view... I'm standing. In front of me is a rectangular piece of wood about three feet by six feet.  The surface is smooth, glossy and the color of honey. It is elevated off the floor about waist height by four legs, one attached to each corner of the rectangle. Arranged around the top surface are six round disks; six tall clear-glass cylinders and next to each of the disks are three metal objects, one on the left and two on the right. In the center of the wooden surface is a container with flowers in it. Okay, I could go on but obviously I'm describing a dinner table with place settings for six.

Now let's consider another point of view... I'm lying on my back. Above me I see a rectangular piece of wood whose surface is rough and unfinished.  The wood is suspended above me by four legs, one in each corner of the rectangle. A piece of pink, putty-like substance is stuck near one corner of the rectangle. Right, so now I'm looking at the bottom of the table. A different point of view can allow you to see something in a completely different way. (To be continued...)

Sometime around noon the gusts start intensifying, picking up sand as they move across the ground and pelting me.  There's not much for me to do so I bundle up in my shell and paddling pants and sit in my Alite chair with my back to the wind.  I've got the zipper pushed all the way up to my nose and the hood cinched in tight so the only thing exposed is my eyes. I sit for about an hour getting buffeted by the gusts. The combination of sun and pulsing wind is lulling me to sleep so I lay down on the rock which is cold but the air and sun are warm, it feels good. For a while I drift in and out of sleep.  Once I'm fully awake, I try sitting again. With the wind howling, neither position is much fun. The small cove directly in front of me is completely covered in white caps. Yikes.

Shore Curve, Glen Canyon NRA, UTShore Curve, Glen Canyon NRA, UTSensuous curves on the shores of Lake Powell.

Dinner preparation is difficult. I find a ledge and some sandstone slabs and build a small windbreak. It helps but I still have to crank the stove up to high to keep it from getting blown out. The water eventually boils and soon I'm eating Beef Strognaoff, yum.

After dinner I head out to take pictures, with all the dust in the air I'm hoping for a colorful sunset. I'm early, by almost an hour, but I setup the tripod and camera anyway. The light is already starting to get good. To make sure I've got everything dialed-in I take a test shot or two. Just then the light goes flat. Damn, a cloud bank has blown in blocking the sun. I wait long past sunset, hoping for a break and some light and some color, but it never happens. Dejected I head back to camp.

I contemplate building a fire but decide to go directly to bed. NOAA said the wind should start easing up about 9:00pm so I'm hoping the worst is over.  It doesn't seem like it's slowing down at all but I don't have an anemometer so what do I know.

I manage to get my sleeping gear laid out without loosing anything, which is a struggle in the wind, and climb in.  Just after I lay down a blast hits me and the tarp starts flapping like crazy and I'm getting pelted with sand, so I grab the corner of the tarp and pull it up to protect my head. It abates for a minute and then buffets me again, another pause, another beating. Every time I think it's done it comes back even stronger, like it was just catching it's breath.  After about a dozen cycles it slows down enough that the sand stops pelting me and I'm able to doze off.

Save]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) camping canyon desert glen kayak lake powell redrock utah wind Tue, 28 Jun 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 16 March 16, 2014, Sunday.

At dawn the raven is back.

I carry a load of gear down to the boat and notice he's pecked holes into the Styrofoam grip of the bilge pump. Damn him. While I'm down there he swoops into camp and attacks a dry bag. Before I find and scare him off he's pecked a hole in it. Bastard. Pissed, I hurl a few rocks in his direction. None of them get as close as I intended but he gets the hint and departs. Thankfully, for good.

The physical and emotional winds of yesterday have blown themselves out and my quiescence is reflected in the water's surface. I launch the kayak and slip effortlessly between the silk sheets of the real and virtual canyons above and below me. Stroke, glide, stroke, glide. The water disappears as I float through three dimensional space in quiet awe at the beauty of the rock and sky that envelops me.

In bliss I pass through the last few swoops of Forbidden Canyon, turn right past the sign that says "Bullfrog 50 Miles" and into the main channel. I'm more than halfway now, it's all downhill from here.

An easy two miles of paddling and I pull out near Oak Canyon and spend the rest of the day chillaxing.

37° 07.26 110° 56.86

Personal Inventory:

I've got the usual chaffing from the straps of my Chacos so I've quit wearing them except as required by the terrain. (When dry, Chacos are very comfortable. When wet, the straps carve groves in my skin. Keeping them dry in this environment is practically impossible.)

Tumbleweeds are all about in the canyons and on the beaches. Consequently, I've got about a dozen tumbleweed thorns in the bottom of my feet. I can feel them when I walk but can't see to pull them out. Annoying.

The tops of my feet and ankles are red and irritated. I'm not sure why. I don't think it's sunburn since they don't see as much sun as the rest of me and the rest of me isn't burnt. It could be from the mud and sand and muck that abounds on the shoreline. I wouldn't be surprised to find it's toxic in one way or another.

I scrapped my left calf today, it bled a bit so I washed it out and applied Neosporin.

My hands are dry and my skin is cracking at the corners of my fingernails. Painful. I've been applying lotion to my hands before I go to bed and superglue to close the cracks. But it's a loosing battle, a downhill run, the alkali will win; all I can do is slow it down.

My once sunburnt and swollen lips are recovering. I've been using the Kiss My Face sunscreen stick that Pippa sent with me religiously. The first few days I forgot I had it and was using a non-sunscreen lip balm, ouch. The Kiss My Face works not just on lips but the whole face, as the name implies, so I've been coating my nose and cheekbones with it too.  So far none of them feel burnt but I don't have a mirror so I can't be sure. I've also been wearing a hat so my bald head is protected.

Lastly, I'm pretty sure I need a bath.

End Personal Inventory

A few days ago I mentioned a conversation I had with Anna, I'd like to get back to that...

A lot was said that evening and I don't remember how we got on the topic but Anna asked something like "What is it about us as humans that makes us ambivalent to the mass extinction of thousands of species?" I agreed that we collectively live our lives with little regard to the consequences on other living beings. But I thought beyond that, that there is something deeply embedded in our thought process that makes us do and justify all kinds of nasty things not just exploit the environment.

As an example, a woman I know, who is generally a kind and thoughtful person, broke the hood ornament off of a car who's driver took a parking space she'd been waiting for. A hood ornament for a parking spot. And she told me about it gloatingly, "I showed her!"

We, as a species, do all kinds of horrible nasty things to each other, lie, cheat, steal, abuse, beat, murder, genocide, and somehow justify it all as okay, as deserved, that we were just meting out due justice because of something, real or perceived, that the offender did. And that right there is, I believe, the root of the matter.  We're taught from childhood to think that we know what is right and what is wrong and when we see someone else do something we judge as wrong, especially when that act is directed at us, we justify our retribution of or retaliation for that act. We're taught... to be continued.

About 2:00pm I turn on the radio and listen to NOAA's forecast for tomorrow's weather. They're predicting 10-20 mph winds out of the southwest in the late afternoon. Nice, I'm heading northeast so I'll get a nice boost, maybe all the way to the San Juan arm of the lake.

At 5:00pm I turn the radio back on and listen in to the forecast again. Oh, my. They've updated the forecast and are now calling for 20-30 mph winds all day with gusts up to 50 mph. Damn, 50 mph! I think I'm going to sit this out and watch from the sidelines, well, lake-shore.

In preparation for the winds I strip the boat of everything and haul it up the slickrock to a sand trap where I partially bury it to prevent it from rocking back and forth in the wind and 'sanding' the bottom. Once it's stable I stow all the gear in the holds and seal the hatches. I stretch the spray skirt over the coaming of the cockpit and adjust the torso hole as closed as I can.

Back at camp I've tied a long parachute cord to a large rock and have tied all my dry bags and stuff sacks to it. Lastly, I collect a bunch of driftwood so I can have another fire tonight. With that, I think I'm ready for the wind.




]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) black canyon desert glen kayak lake powell white Tue, 21 Jun 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 15 part 2 March 15, 2014 (part 2)

By the time I get out of the marina and into Forbidden Canyon the ferry is gone, though it's passing is conspicuous by a huge wake that is still echoing back and forth between the narrow canyon walls causing undulating peaks and valleys in the once flat surface of the lake. I rise and fall with them, sometimes as much as three feet, as I struggle to stay upright and make progress against the still angry wind.

On my way up-canyon I looked for any possible take-out in the event that I had to come back this way today. The steep walls offered little opportunity to escape the madness however I recall passing two small side canyons that I didn't bother to explore. I'm hoping one of them will have a suitable take-out so I don't have to go all the way to the main channel and beyond. The thought of beating through this wind in the steep-walled, main channel for a mile or more is disheartening.

After battling through the wind and residual ferry chop for what seems like hours but is probably more like 20 minutes I finally encounter the first side canyon which offers calmer water and a break from the wind. Hopeful, I turn into the canyon, paddle to the first bend and come round to find myself surrounded by steep sandstone disappearing into the depths of the water. My hopes are dashed, disappointment floods my being as I realize I've got to continue battling the wind and chop.  I want to cry but instead I grit my teeth, turn around and head back into the melee.

After another 15 minutes I reach the next side canyon, this one is larger and after rounding the first bend I'm relieved to find a marginal spot on a slick rock slope where I can exit the boat, its not great but I could make due with what little is there for one night. As I glide forward another few yards my gaze follows the canyon around the next bend and I see that the canyon ends in a nice 10' wide beach that slopes gradually up to a flat, dry sandbar. Oh glorious beach of my salvation, I'm home for the night! A few more paddle strokes, I hit the beach and release a huge emotional sigh.

37° 06.46 110° 58.18 13:37

Instead of firm sand the shoreline is knee-deep, black muck. Yuck! I sink and wallow in it as I exit the kayak and haul my gear up onto higher, clean, dry ground.  Unpacked, I collapse on the sand for a few minutes before I open a dry bag and dive into the first food I come to.

With my appetite satiated and having regained a measure of strength, I get up and wander about checking out the small canyon I've claimed for the night. 

I climb the slick rock behind the postage stamp beach to get an elevated view of the small steep-walled canyon. The slick rock ends about half way up the full-height of the canyon walls in an open field covered in bowling ball rocks.

I flop down on the edge of the rock and stare back down at my gear dumped on the sand below. A gust of wind blasts against my back as it rushes down the narrow cleft on it's way to the beach below. As it hits the dry sand below I can see it kick up a dust cloud which blows out past the kayak, which... isn't where I left it. Wait, is that where I left it? No, didn't I pull in more to the right? What's going on?

Another gust of wind blasts past me down the canyon and I clearly see the tail of the boat swing about under the pressure. Shit! My boat, which is still sitting in the soft silt at the water's edge, is getting blown off the beach!  I scramble down the steep hill, across the short stretch of dry sand, slog through the muck and grab the bow handle just before it drifts off. Whew!

My usual end of day procedure is to beach the boat, unload it and then with it empty and lighter, pull it fully out of the water. This time, in my exhaustion, I forgot to pull it clear after unloading. I got lucky this time. I need to be more careful.

While I'm down dealing with the boat and pulling it completely out of the water, a raven has gotten into my gear at camp.  It's not that far, only 30 yards or so, but there's a large rock in between so I didn't see him until I came back around.  I scare him off only to find that he's pecked holes in my freeze dried dinner and tossed it around in the sand. Lovely. The package won't hold water anymore so I dump the contents into my pot then stack my full water bottle on top of it hoping to keep Mr. Raven out.

While I'm dealing with my dinner the raven has moved over to the boat and is pecking at my life jacket which I left in the cockpit with the spray skirt.  So I go back over to the boat, scare him off, attach the spray skirt to the cockpit coaming and draw it closed.  I walk off a bit and watch as he comes back and starts pecking at the torso hole trying to get inside.  Before I notice, he's got the hole open, reached through, grabbed my hat and is trying to fly off with it. I holler! He drops the hat and flies off empty handed. Hoping to be rid of him I stow the hat, life jacket and spray skirt into the forward hold and securely strap the cover on.

Again, I walk off and watch. Soon he's back and going after the trash bag I've stowed behind the seat. Oops, I forgot about that. After I stow the trash in the hold I again move off to watch. Back he comes again to attack the bailing sponge. Really? For hell's sake, how annoying can one raven be?  I stow the sponge and the paddle float--he hasn't touched the paddle float yet but if he pecked at it and poked a hole in it that would be very bad indeed.  The only thing left out are the painters, paddles and bilge pump which I'm confident he can neither destroy or make off with so I walk back to my camp.

I spend the next few hours sitting, doing nothing, resting, recovering, guarding my stuff while Mr. Raven struts around the periphery of my camp. Thankfully he leaves just before I start dinner. Good riddance. He's gone but not forgotten because while freeze dried food isn't all that appealing on its own it is even less so with a healthy serving of sand.

The wind is still howling and periodically a gust will thunder down the small canyon at my back picking up sand as it comes.  The sand pelts my back and the wind strips what little warmth I have. I'm wearing everything I brought and I'm still chilled; my feet especially so since the only shoes I have are Chaco sandals.

Pacing about to generate some internal warmth I see a small branch and the idea of a fire goes off like a light in my head. I quickly gather wood and kindling and put a match to it. The flame catches, is stoked by the wind and soon warms both my frame and soul, encouraging my determination to continue on--not that I have much choice in the matter. 

As the day dies so does the wind so by the time I'm settled into the comfort and warmth of my sleeping bag dreams quickly drift in to my head on the gentle breeze.


Save]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) camp camping canyon desert forbidden glen kayak lake utah Tue, 14 Jun 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 15 part 1 March 15, 2014, Saturday.

Last night, after sunset, the wind kicked up again. After I packed everything away I climbed into my sleeping bag. Tired, I drifted off quickly.

Sometime later I wake up to the sound of my tarp whipping in the wind.  I've been sleeping on an extra-large tent footprint with the excess flopped over me, like a taco, to break the wind.  It works mostly, if I can predict the prevailing wind direction and get the fold on the upwind side. Last night when I laid out my bag I guessed wrong. Really wrong. Tonight I'm lined up with my head into the wind and it's blowing right down my neck into my bag chilling me. Reluctantly I get up and scurry about repositioning myself.  Resettled, I try and get back to sleep.

Next time I wake the starry sky is hidden behind clouds and several rain drops hit my face.  Checking that the tarp is covering me, I roll over and go back to sleep.

The next time I wake I'm surprised to find the clouds have moved off and the sky is clear again. The wind has strengthened and is now buffeting me from every direction. The tarp is flapping noisily against my head so I try weighting down the free edge with rocks but 10 minutes later it's free and flapping away again. I try tucking it under the edge of my mattress but when I roll over it again flaps free.  I try tying the grommetted corner straps together but that acts like a kite and the tarp balloons up and funnels the wind down next to me and my sleeping bag.  I give up and lay awake holding the corner in my hand.

I've got to pee but don't dare leave my bag for fear it'll blow away.  My fear is well founded since at one point when I'd sat up to address the flapping tarp my pillow, which is a stuff sack with my down jacket inside, got hit by a gust of wind and rolled six feet across the rock.

So I lay awake, needing to pee, hopelessly trying to stay out of the wind.

I start to think about the rest of my gear all neatly tucked into cylindrical dry bags.  I'm perched on top of a roundish island 30' above the water.  If one started rolling it would easily roll off this mound and into the water and be gone.  I console myself that if one hasn't been blown off by now there's no need to worry; on the other hand if one has gone, there's little I can do about it now, in the dark, in the wind. So I lay awake, hanging on to the tarp, hoping for good fortune.

The sun finally gets around to showing up for work, so I follow his lead.  Dressed and with my sleeping gear safely stuffed away in a dry bag I pee and then proceed to inventory the rest of my gear. Shit, one bag is missing! It's a small green bag with my rain shell.  I start scanning the water expecting to see it on it's way to Arizona. Nothing.  Maybe it fell in the water and sank; that bag has a small hole in it so maybe I'll get lucky and find in the shallows near my island. I walk to the edge and look down into the small cove on the lee side of the island. Oh what luck, it didn't blow away or sink, there it is floating against the rock wall in the shadow of the wind.

From where I'm perched, on the top of the island, it's out of reach. I watch it for a few minutes hoping it will drift along the face of the rock to somewhere I can approach and reach it but after 10 minutes it hasn't moved significantly.  So I launch the boat from the other side of the island and paddle around into the cove and retrieve it. The bag has leaked and the coat is partly wet but other than that it's fine. I thank my lucky stars. 

Having recovered my gear I begin to think about the day's journey. Today I'm heading into Forbidden Canyon and down to Rainbow Bridge. I can see the entrance to the canyon, just east of my location and the water between here and there looks manageable. The wind is still blowing but it seems to have calmed a bit and isn't gusting as much as it was. I assume (hope) that once I'm in the canyon the wind and waves will abate.  So I pack and head out.

I'm progressing confidently heading east along hugging the north edge of the channel until I pass the point where the channel bends sharply to the north. Here I start crossing the channel to the entrance to Forbidden Canyon but as I pass the point I see I've been protected from the wind in the lee of a high swooping cliff face that is funneling the wind down the channel. That wind is now hitting me at 45° degrees off my bow. The waves hit me at the skewed angle making holding a course and keeping the boat upright a challenge and several times I have to brace myself to keep from swimming.  Finally I gain the entrance of Forbidden Canyon ready for calmer conditions. 

No such luck. The waves are smaller but the wind, which is heading directly up-canyon, whips through the narrow tunnel careening along the scooped walls.  The slightly good news is that for now I'll be heading downwind, the bad news is that I have to paddle upwind on the return trip, ugh.

Yesterday I settled into a minimum-distance, straight-line track though these snake-like canyons.  I repeat the procedure here, cutting across from inside corner to inside corner. But today, with the wind, I quickly realize I need another tactic. I find that as I approach each inside corner the wind which is whipping around the curves in the canyon hits me full force broadsides and I pass each inside corner.  I come to this realization just as I'm rounding the second corner when a major gust hits hit from the right and almost knocks me over. Shaken, I dig deep and manage to round the point into the relative calm on the other side where I pause to think about my options because clearly this isn't working.

My first thought is to grab my cell phone and call for an extraction team.  I'm not sure how exactly that would work since I'm 50 miles by water from the nearest anything.  Oh, and my phone which hasn't had reception for the last three days is buried in the rear hatch sufficiently out of reach. Damn, I guess its all up to me.

There are two issues at play here: one, I'm exhausted, I didn't get much sleep last night and the last three days of paddling have been long; two, my straight-line attack of the canyon is putting me in hazardous crosswind situations.  I can't get less tired sitting here in the kayak and I can't pull out to rest because the canyon walls are too steep.  In short I can't alter the first issue, with that I'm stuck.  I think about my path down the canyon. If instead of following a straight-lining path I paddle on the long side of each curve the wind will be at my back and not across my beam.  I'll have to paddle further but the advantage of having a tailwind and no crosswind should make up for the extra distance. Oh, and it'll reduce the likelihood that I might go swimming in the frigid water, that's a definite plus.

I decide to give it a go and start off, sticking to the outside wall.  I sail through the first curve easily, then through the next, great, it's working. Now if I can just find somewhere to rest. As I paddle on I'm hoping that there's a campsite or two at Rainbow Bridge and I can call it a day there.

But my hopes are soon dashed, just before I reach the dock at the end of the canyon there's a sign that says "No swimming, No Fishing, No camping". Drat!

There's a Boy Scout Troop on the dock waiting for the weekly ferry. I chat with them as I tie up and clamber out of the boat. They're from Chandler, AZ and have hiked down from up above Rainbow Bridge and are taking the ferry out to Wahweap.  Since I haven't been able to call or send a message to Pippa for several days they agree to contact her when they get to Page, AZ and let her know I've made it this far. 

While I'm having lunch the ferry pulls in and barfs it's payload onto the dock. Lovely. So much for a quiet moment at the Bridge.

After spending a few crowded minutes at the Bridge I head back down to the dock, dreading getting back in the boat.  I briefly consider asking for a ride on the ferry but they're headed back to Wahweap and I'm not ready to admit defeat. As I'm stowing the remains of lunch and camera gear the Ferry sounds a whistle and pulls out. There goes my extraction team. I climb back in the boat and paddle off following them down through the narrow canyon, back into the wind and waves.

]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) bridge canyon desert kayak lake powell rainbow Wed, 08 Jun 2016 17:00:00 GMT
A March across Powell, 14 Friday, March 14, 2014

Last night the breeze kicked up a bit but I slept well.  I think after two days of hard paddling I needed the rest. 

As dawn is breaking I peek out under the brim of my fleece hat, which is long enough to cover my eyes, and I see some scattered clouds.  Yummy; it should be a nice sunrise.  I rise, grab my camera gear and head back up the hills to the east to an overlook where I shot a few images last night. A bass boat speeds by on the lake below and is the only person I'll see all day. Solitude.

After shooting a few frames I head back down to camp anxious to get on the water since the overnight breeze has died and the lake is like glass. I eat, pack and launch. I glide along as though on the surface of a mirror; the inky depths reflect the blue sky and red rocks perfectly. 

I cross the lake and turn south down Cathedral Canyon.  The red, orange and white sandstone walls tower over me as I paddle and drift, stroke and glide, stroke and glide.  I frequently pull out my camera (the Nikon AW110 waterproof one) and try and document the beauty, the stillness, the tranquility and the awe I feel as I glide along. The emotions I feel on this mirror are so different from those I felt yesterday while battling through the wind and chop. This is bliss and I try and capture it.

I spend the day gliding through Cathedral, Driftwood and Cascade Canyons. At the back of each, I beach and look at the sand path leading away from the water but choose to pass them up for the opportunity to stay on the lake.  I've hiked canyons in this country before and I'm not here for them; I'm here for the lake and from what I've seen so far there's a character here that's worth taking the time to get to know.

After a full day exploring I pull out on an island at the mouth of Cascade Canyon right next to buoy #47.

Lake Powell SunsetLake Powell Sunset


]]> (Kirk Marshall Photography) canyon glen canyon kayak lake lake Powell utah Wed, 01 Jun 2016 17:00:00 GMT