Day 21. Sisyphus in a nutshell

Never say “wind” on the river. Kate taught me that. I didn’t, but I did think it once or twice… maybe that was my mistake? Either way, “Mr. W” is up and in my face all day. I barely make miles in my boat and paddling against the big W just really sucks. The river is scattered with pieces of debris, sandstone bricks floating on it and I look up at the cliffs to my left and right from time to time, hoping they wont dump any of this on me. Amused I notice, that after all, besides keeping my head and face dry in the rain, this is another reason for me to wear the helmet on this absolutely flat water, where falling out of my boat and hitting a rock with my head would be seriously hard work…

I get increasingly frustrated because I feel stuck in this bright yellow nutshell. The rain still hasn’t stopped, when I pull over into a muddy eddy, tie up my boat (“Always tie up your boat, Ana!”) and hike up into a Canyon. According to Doug I can find granaries and ruins here. It feels like a friendly sign of nature that the rain stops, while I am out of the boat and I send a big thank you to the spirits that inhabit this magical canyon.

Seeing the Anasazi ruins up in the wall beside the little trail puts a jolt through me. I immediately feel the place and its historic weight and value effect me somehow. I hike up to where I can look at them more closely and then I find a granary next to them too. They stone and mortar storage bins, that were constructed by the ancient Anasazi people to store their seed stock and food. They sealed them with a little fire on the inside, that gave them almost a vacuum and preserved food for a long time. So long in fact, that apparently a bean that had been distinct was found in a granary only a few years ago, was then re-bred and is now regularly available as the Anasazi bean in supermarkets.

The sign of nature is confirmed to me, when it immediately starts raining again once I push my boat of the muddy shore. But even though I am frustrated, I make an effort not to lose my good humor. It is what keeps me going on days like this. To get an idea on what that looks like in action, I have uploaded this video for you. I know I look grumpy, but watch it to the end…

It gets worse though. I come around a bend in the afternoon, and there is white fluffing the air above the river from rim to rim in front of me. It seems so strange and until I am in it, I deny to believe what this is. But when the first flake melts on my face, it dawns on me and when shortly after, a thousand little white needles sting my face, it is abundantly clear. A blizzard. It immediately gets very cold and the wind picks up even more. From here on out all I do is look for a good place to take out, that offers any kind of shelter from the weather. And after a mile or so I actually see what looks like a cave and I yell out a big “”yihaaa” for all the weather spirits that want to hear me. I am feeling stiff and sore when I haul my boat and gear to shore, tie it and fight the storm up to the cave. It is a big one, but there is so much water running through it that I decide not to risk the midnight flashflood and spread my sleeping bag in a smaller cave nearby instead.

I actually wrote all of the above a day later. But to give you an idea, this is all I wrote on the actual day 21:

Found cave to camp in. There was another bigger one, but I chose this cuz worried about flashfloods there with water everywhere. White fluff falling, looks like ashes, could be salt, but is some sort of snow… WTF. Making food with my last energy, its good to get something warm into me. Can’t write more, too tired.

I cover 17 miles in 7 hours of more or less intense work on this day. And the thought of paddling the 190 miles of Lake Powell, with more wind than this, minus current, plus waves becomes less and less appealing.

At night I dream of the color green. I dream of lush pastures and colorful flowers in the Alps. And then I wake up to a muddy sky and the different shades of desert brown with the equally brown river seemingly reflecting the muddy sky in it. Am I getting the desert blues? But no, blue is not in the picture here. Maybe the desert browns? Does that exist here?

2 Replies to “Day 21. Sisyphus in a nutshell”

  1. By the time you paddle all of the reservoirs of Powell, Mead, Mohave, and Havasu your going to really dislike not having current. It really begins to hit you just how backed up and contained the Colorado River is when you’ll reach Hoover Dam in about, I guessing, 5 weeks.

    BTW, you’re probably going to end up meeting me at least once when you get on to the lower Colorado River. I’m usually one of the people helping Source to Sea paddlers around the dams in that section and I’ll probably be running shuttle for you when you reach Yuma and Morelos Dam on the US / Mexico border.
    I hope your visit with Kerri was great. She’s an awesome person.

    1. Hey James, of course! I have heard of you! There are a few people who are mentioned whenever talking to another source to sea person and Zoe are most definitely one of those legendary helpers! By the way, I just decided not to paddle all of Lake Powell but go hike in Escalante instead ;-). I am looking forward to meet you and will get ion touch once I get closer…

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