Lake Powell & Glen Canyon Dam

Trip Start Jun 24, 2012
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Trip End Sep 21, 2012


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Flag of United States  , Utah
Tuesday, August 21, 2012

As we packed up our camp this morning, we realised that today would be our last night of camping for the whole trip...we were heading to Zion National Park for one evening, before continuing on to Las Vegas. We set off from our rubbishy Grand Canyon campsite at 8am with plans to stop off at Lake Powell around midday before Zion.

I'm sure everyone knows by now what the days routine entailed; we sat in the van for a couple of hours in the stifling heat, before stopping back off at the Cameron trading post we'd been to before getting to the Grand Canyon. Whilst here I picked up a cute little hessian make up bag with a wolf motif, and some more jellybeans, which took the edge of the heat somewhat, but then Graeme dropped us off at a place called Horseshoe Bend for us to do a little hike whilst he went to a nearby Walmart to pick up some lunch. He'd pitched this walk to us as a short one with spectacular views...what he hadn't said is that it was a sheer drop of 1000ft down into the Colorado river below and there was no shade at all one the one and a half mile hike straight up. By the time the group was done, we were all practically collapsing. It was the hottest day we had experienced, at around 40 degrees and we were in no way prepared for the walk.

In my opinion, the view wasn't worth the pain of trying to drag ourselves back up the hill and it was with relief that Graeme picked us up and pulled up to a 'secret entrance' to Lake Powell, in the shadow of Glen Canyon Dam - the younger, less impressive sister (brother?) of the Hoover Dam.

I say 'secret' entrance, because according to Graeme if you go in the official way, you have to pay $60 entrance in order to swim in the lake, but I'm not convinced that it was very secret; we were fairly obviously heading down the road to the lake, and when we got there there were at least three other groups already taking advantage of the cooling water! Hmmm...

We used the on site toilets to get changed into our swimmers and then headed down the rock slopes towards the water. This was fairly treacherous, as the sandstone had been worn smooth by countless years of erosion, so we slipped and skipped along as best as our flip flops would allow. In fact, it was easier to go barefoot to provide some form of friction...except for when Rose tripped and managed to slice her big toe nail off...that wasn't pretty at all, and she looked like she was in loads of pain.

We slathered on the sun cream like maniacs, as there was no shade at all from the sun, and then got stuck into a happy little lunch of fried chicken and sweet buns before popping into the lake. The relief from the heat was instant and so welcome - Nanette even dived in fully clothed as she hadn't brought any swimwear with her! Graeme and the others were commenting about how beautiful they thought the lake was, but all I could see were the scars from the blasting that had occurred to form the reservoir; it was also sad to think of how disappointed John Wesley Powell - the man the lake is named for - would have been had he been alive...he was a great environmental advocate, and much of the natural geography and environment of the Lake Powell area was destroyed as it was built and flooded.

Despite this, it was nice to have a little swim and cool off from the heat of the day. The relief was short lived, however, as we saw some serious thunderclouds piling up over the horizon; Graeme ordered us back onto the van, and we scrabbled barefoot up the rocks to avoid the approaching storm.

We sat happily in damp clothes in the van, drying out in the heat as we headed across the Arizona border into Utah. We got into Zion National Park in the late afternoon, and Graeme drove us through the southwest section of it before we left to get to our campsite. Zion was beautiful, with vast jagged peaks of coral coloured Navajo sandstone intercut with canyons and river valleys, trees and rockfall. The drive was spectacular, winding us through tunnels in the mountains and around switchbacks leading to the valley floor...it looked untouched by human hands and I had a hard time in reigning in my imagination...in my head, dinosaurs grazed in the valleys instead of deer and pterosaurs replaced the ravens and hawks I could see from the window!

All too soon, we were through the park and out to a little town on the banks of the virgin river. We got into our camp, where we discovered that our pitches were alongside the river itself, and set up our tents for the last time. As it was the last night of camping, we had housekeeping chores to do, such as cleaning the trailer, tents and all the coolers, and i had the inspired idea to fashion a sweeping broom from the mini brush and my walking stick, which the liberal application of duct tape. Apparently, i was a bit too vigorous in my sweeping efforts, however, as ten minutes into cleaning the trailer, my stick snapped in half! =[

Graeme was cooking our last camp meal again for us, so with nothing to do I set about whittling the end of my deceased stick into a cat, using Graeme's Swiss army knife and his tips. I did very well, if I say so myself, and I didn't even slice my fingers off...bonus! My whittling was brought to an end with the arrival of dinner; 1lb rib eye steaks cooked over the fire, with baked potatoes, corn and broccoli...it was absolutely unreal, seriously the best food I've eaten on the whole trip...Graeme is a superstar!

Shortly after dinner, and much to the chagrin of those who were trying to have a few drinks and make 'hobo pies' - pie filling cooked between two slices of bread in a toaster clamp over the fire - the heavens opened like I've never seen, and forced us all into our tents to avoid it.

The rain continued throughout the night, as well as a terrible thunderstorm, which meant we had very little sleep...not great when we were due to wake up at 4am to go into Zion and do the Angels Landing hike....

Wondering if the rain will ever stop!

Deej x
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