Kirk Marshall Photography | A March across Powell, 13

A March across Powell, 13

May 25, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

March 13, 2014


I wake because my hands are numb and my right shoulder is aching.  It seems my down jacket in a stuff sack isn't providing my neck the needed support. I've got a contour pillow at home which was recommended by a chiropractor for a pinched nerve in my neck.  I'm missing it now.  I roll over and try and reposition myself to minimize the discomfort but I'm not very successful.  I drift off but will wake again soon.  Lather, rinse, repeat.


By the time the sky is lightening with the coming dawn I can see that the blanket of stars has been replaced by a blanket of clouds. The forecast storm has arrived.


A few years ago Pippa gave me a Hi-Tec device for Christmas.  It has a bunch of functions (clock, thermometer, compass, altimeter, barometer, etc.) and a carabiner clip that keeps it in view hanging on my lifejacket. Nice. Wondering about the water temperature I stuck it in 4" of water. The small print on the back of the device clearly states "10M Water Resistant".  When I pulled it out after 20 minutes it read about 64°. I picked it up an hour later and the display was blank. Bummer.  I guess I should have focused more on the word 'resistant' and not the '10M'. Anyway, my point is I have no idea of the temperature, barometric pressure, or even what time it is. Both camera's, the radio and my phone all display the time but there doesn't seem to be a consensus among them. I'm forced to let go of artificial time and flow with the rhythm of the earth. Not a bad thing, really.


From this spot on the shore, which faces southwest, the paddling conditions look promising.  A moderate wind is coming from the west and the lake surface is rippled with small waves.  Since I'll be heading east, a tailwind from the west sounds delightful. I'm anxious to take advantage of it so I quickly pack and launch.


Ten minutes off easy paddling brings me to the rounding of the next point where I realized my assessment of the conditions was wrong--though not really my fault, the canyons and cliffs can do weird things with the wind down here.  In reality the wind is still blowing strong out of the northeast and I'm heading right into it with a long fetch of open water to address.  The chop is manageable but the headwind is disheartening.  I had deceived myself into thinking that today would be different from yesterday, easier.  But it's not, it's just more of the same.  I seek shelter in an alcove on the lee of the next point to rest my shoulders and bolster my determination.

I climb the nob above the beach and gaze back out over the water I just crossed.  I'm amazed at the different view of it from here. Bobbing up and down in the kayak the waves looked substantial.  Occasionally one would break over the bow of the boat and run back and down around the bow hatch.  I could feel the gusts pushing me back as I struggled to make headway.  But from here, on the solid rock of the shore, I can hardly tell what all the fuss was about and I wonder 'why did I leave the water?'  A situation can look completely different from a slightly different point of view. The application of this observation to life in general is obvious but what I'm contemplating now is the application of it to a conversation that Anna and I had three nights ago. Leaving those thought for a moment I turn and survey the next stretch of the channel which passes by Teddy's Horse Pasture and the entrance to Dangling Rope Marina. I might was well get to it.

Near Mile 42, Glen Canyon NRA, UTNear Mile 42, Glen Canyon NRA, UTStorm clouds blow over an unnamed peak on the shores of Lake Powell.

Back in the boat I work my way past the marina and into a small cove on the north side of the channel for another break.  Unfortunately there's no possibility of getting out of the boat so I try and stretch my legs and shoulders as best I can while still in the cockpit.

The channel ahead runs through a steep-walled section of the canyon about a half mile long that ends with Balance Rock Canyon on the north. The wall on the north side of the channel is concave.  I'll pass close to the start and end of the 'cave' and be about 150-200 yards from the middle. 

When I'm rested and ready, I move out of the protection of the cove and head upwind. As I pass the near-end of the concave wall the waves, which were uniform, straight lines heading directly toward me, turn to non-directional chop, sloshing me every-which-way. As I struggle to stay upright, I realize the waves are hitting the walls of the canyon and echoing back just as a sound would. Kinda cool.

By the time I'm halfway past the concave wall the chop has lessened and the waves are more uniform and manageable again. Balance Rock Canyon arrives none too soon and I pull in to it's shelter and relax. After a look around I find a small beach and get off the water.

14:55pm, 37° 06.64 111° 02.99

Sandstone, Glen Canyon NRA, UTSandstone, Glen Canyon NRA, UTPatterns in sandstone.

After a snack I head out to look around with my camera in hand. While I'm out it starts to rain, lightly, so lightly I almost don't notice it. Could this be the cold front? By the time I return to camp the wind has dropped noticeably and by the time I've eaten it's calm.  As I turn in the clouds break and the moon, Orion and the rest of the stars are revealed.

I'm close to buoy #45, so I've paddled about seven miles today.  After yesterday seven is enough.

Tomorrow the fun starts. Up to now I've just been trying to get as far as possible each day.  But tomorrow I'm not longer concerned with mileage but exploring.  Two miles up the channel is Driftwood Canyon on the north and Cathedral Canyon on the south, then another mile further is Cascade Canyon on the north and a bit further Forbidden Canyon with Rainbow Bridge on the south.  I plan on exploring them all. Wahoo! The fun begins.


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