|Rights||No Copyright - United States (NoC-US)|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
Wednesday, May 26, 1976 Page 9 v . IT Mpp)Dn) il (0 Story and Photographs by Scott Nelson Moab is a small Southern Utah town located near; Green River between Arches National Monument and Canyonlands Recreation area, thru which the Colorado River flows. It's the type of town that when passingHhru, one is bound to ask,"I wonder what it would be like to live here?" without really wanting to know. It's purpose seems to be nothing less than catering to the thousands who pass thru annually on their way from here to there. Dust covers everything; the countless gas stations and ice cream stands, the truck stops burger joints, and cowboy bars and it's respectable main street. Yet it's an oasis in a parched sandstone locale. The Colorado river has been wisely used to feed irrigation systems so that the surrounding fields are abundant with a lush alfalfa cover. It was from here that we began our voyage down river into Canyonlands through Cataract Canyon to Lake Powell. You feel the presence of the sun long before you see it's firey orange form. It rises through the warm winds stirring above the eroded cliffs surrounding you or so it was on our first morning on the river. From that point on we lost all sense of time and the days flowed, as the river, into one another. We floated with the current into deepening channels between ever rising time-eroded walls, wanting the experience to never end. Along the way there were volleyball matches on sand bars, and water fights between boats and hikes up deserted side canyons whose only mark of habitation was an occasional deer track or rabbit dropping among the flowering cactus and Indian nnint hmsh W .stared .m. amazement at precariously balanced rocksand wondered aloud if they would still be there in five, ten, or a hundred years. Walking vnear- abandoned Indian dwellings beneath faded petroglyphs, searching for arrowheads, we let our minds drift back to the time of their inhabitation and their reasons for leaving the area. The scent of sage and pinion pine filled the air. Off to one side a struggling juniper tree held so many secrets of the past; if only it could talk. It will survive long after we are gone and behind its clever facade of antiquity it s laughing at our concern for the passage of time and of aging. The thought that what we were viewing was once ocean bottom seemed too incredible to grasp, yet the thirty to fifty million year old fossils we held in our hands served as indisputable in-disputable proof of the creation of the canyon. No matter what we saw or felt there were no words to describe the expectation of what was to come, the reason we had all joined together: the rapids! ,yr f ja-- ''"dia. iVTtii I--, v mJ ILmJ - "Wave after wave covered not only our boat but also our screams as wo made our way through the rapids." ir j riously dfrfS $WV r WUU1U - . t - Cr;: - IS . ? w - .... av v x tr X -i-.V Lit?.' i' ' " -;,-,-" ..v'v'' -v. : . f- 'Sjfe.A. , . A -Win if The canyon narrowed and the red cliffs rose sharply all around us as we entered our first drop, a passage that would later seem minor compared to the bigger rapids of the days to rnm o At the Hme it was the deenoet darkest most terrifying water we had ever seen. The sand and silt-filled brown water boiled ominously. Wave after wave covered not only our boat but also our screams as we made our -way through to still water on the lower side. Camp that evening was electric with boatsmen telling tall tales of previous trips and we, the passangers, having visions of what was to come tomorrow. . Morning dawned cloudy and after a lengthy climb to explore the legendary "Doll House" and its time-eroded sandstone figures reminiscent of Easter Island, we descended through Spanish Bottoms to rejoin our boat After lunch we were off into an area known only to our boatmen. We were at the mercy of not only the river but also ttia onahilifv rt tut anilAe Fighting precipitous drops, waves, back eddies ed-dies and incredible pulls, the boatmen brought us through another series of rapids nicknamed "Mile Long" - a series more demanding than before but still no comparison to what was come. Luckily, everything was lashed down, for if not we would have surely lost most of our gear. Sleeping under the stars that last night on a sandy beach, listening to the roar of tomorrow's rapids was both frightening and beautiful. We remembered how minutes before, through the fading evening light we viewed the narrow channel through which our boats would pass the next morning. Sleep, however, came easily, and at dawn we once again awoke to clouds and a light drizzle. After breakfast we loaded the boats and lashed ' everything down as securely as possible. We experienced a high not felt before. We were off! Rookie boatmen quickly matured as we passed through one drop after another, the names of which were enough to keep you won-riarincr won-riarincr what as tn enmp' Martv's Hoi. Satan's Gut. Niagara, and the Bm DroD. to name a fewt We came through intact and suddenly felt like veteran river runners. What a logical progression it was; we are so much a part of the water. We ski it all winter and in the SDrine follow its natural course in another form as it Our vocabularies increased with the learning of river talk and lore. Beyond that, we. learned more than just words; the experience was total. After five days on the river we could understand , its flow a little better. Although we will probably never come close to understanding the complexity of the canyon's formation, we are closer to the simplicity of its purpose. "Rookie boatmen quickly matured as we passed through one drop after another; Marty's Mar-ty's Hole, Satan's Gut and Niagara." Late one afternoon, several days out, we heard this roar of white water and felt the goose bumps rise out of our sunburned skin. We had already passed the confluence where the Green River joins the Colorado and the water's flow was approaching fourty thousand gallons per second. It ,1 4 (4 "T sand and sllt-fllM brown water Dotod ominously as we approached the tii9tlllhm9",',l$ t""eerooeasanastonet,gures J-jfc ff W. ...... WWW... W W.W.WW. WIIIWi Iff W. - - "Fighting precipitous drops, waves, back eddies and Incredible pulls, the boatmen brought us through another series of rapids." i !wk . I V5 "After climbing tor several hours we descended through Spanish Bottoms to Uu99"n9 Juniper tree holds so many secrets of the past; If only It could rejoin our boats." talk."