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.