You won’t be seeing any new posts from me between Wednesday, November 27 and Sunday, December 1, 2013. And, my planned adventure is totally unrelated to the hunt for Fenn’s treasure chest.
I’m headed for the Black Canyon on the Colorado River. Black Canyon runs for about 12 miles directly downstream from Hoover Dam, and is one of the more accessible sections of the Colorado. There is lots to see on this stretch of the river, as indicated in this American Whitewater Listing which describes the run from North to South, from the put in below the Hoover Dam to the slack water at Mohave Reservoir.
(If you’ve made the run at any time in the past, please leave your suggestions, recommendations and warnings in a Comment Box – especially if you can refer me to some photos or video that you’ve uploaded.)
I’m planning to explore the canyon from South to North, making the round trip from Willow Beach, which provides camping, marina, and other facilities on the Arizona side of the River. I’m camping in one of the spots at the Willow Beach Campground, which provides easy access to the river. This won’t be the first time I’ve been in the canyon. But, it will be the first time I’m on the water, on my own, and making the run upstream rather than down. It’s also the first time I’ll have the opportunity to catch some of the pretty good sized trout in this section of the Colorado.
I’m making the run on my newly acquired Saturn Kaboat SK396. It’s a tactical quality rubber raft that’s closer in dimension to a kayak; 12 feet long and 42″ wide, and two 13″ diameter pontoons. It weighs about 50 pounds fitted and has a load capacity of around 500 pounds. It’s powered by an environmentally friendly Suzuki 2.5 hp 4-stroke which, at full throttle, pushes the watercraft at about 12 knots, and practically sips gas. (The photo is not me in mine, it’s a stock photo downloaded from the boatstogo.com website.
There are several unique areas in the canyon (as described in the American Whitewater Listing referred to above) I plan to explore, so I expect to return with a good collection of images, and, if I’m patient enough, some video.
My good friend Hannu has made similar runs on some beautiful rivers in Swedish Lapland, rigged a little differently with a larger model of Kabot and, correspondingly, a more powerful outboard motor. It was my watching some of his videos that, first, prompted me to contact him; second, make the investment in the boat and motor; and third, run some of the beautiful rivers we have here in America.
I’m especially excited about springtime running some of the big rivers in the American Northwest which look and act similarly to the rivers in Hannu’s videos.
So, wish me luck. I’ll get back to blogging about the treasure when I return. Until then, I hope you and yours have a good, and uneventful, Thanksgiving.
Added to the above:
One of my Facebook Friends, upon reading about my upcoming travels, wrote, “One word: why?”
I responded with, “…uh…Because it’s there?” Not very good, I admit, but it was all that I had at the time. Then I remembered this.
This is a photograph of President Calvin Coolidge signing The Boulder Canyon Project Act in 1929. The gentleman standing in the background, second from the right, represented Arizona in the six-state Colorado River Compact that enabled the project to proceed.
He is Toby Younis, Sr., my grandfather. (My father was Jr., and I’m the III, but I don’t use it.)
Turns out I have a reason for making the trip this holiday.
A couple of weeks ago I was someplace in the mountains North of Santa Fe. I was reconning one of my solutions – this one unique in my portfolio because it begins in Colorado and ends in New Mexico. I was hiking up a dry creekbed running up the side of the mountain, scouring ahead and aside of me for any sign of the infamous blaze. About an hour into the trek, and halfway up the climb, I came face-to-face with a couple of fellow trekkers. Early sixties, I’d guess. (I say that like they were older than me, but at 63, they were probably my age.) They were coming back down the wash. The gentleman, I noticed, was favoring his right leg. They were both wearing generic “athletic” shoes. Low cut, and very stylish.
We stopped to talk, and soon discovered we were in the dry wash for the same reason. I having traveled from Albuquerque, they passing through the area in their RV from Nebraska. I had seen the RV parked at a cemetery near the trailhead, although I wasn’t on much of a trail. We talked a little about the thrill of the chase. Their convenience store water bottles were near empty so I offered them a couple of water packets, letting them know I had plenty. They graciously accepted them. I asked the gentleman if we was OK, nodding in the direction of his right leg. The lady said he had twisted his ankle, and he said he was fine. I suggested they be careful on the way down the wash, as the combination of fine sand, stream-polished stones and gravity made for treacherous walking. The three of us, interested in getting on our way, shook hands, and wished one other luck in the hunt.
Gravity puts the entire weight of your body on your ankles and feet. Between them, both right and left, there are hundreds of bones, tendons, muscles and other pieces of connective tissue that independent of one another, are fairly fragile. Multiply this by the effect of walking over rough, unstable, angular, unpredictable ground and you make recipe for, while not quite a disaster, at least the spoiling of what could be a very good day.
(As I’m preparing for each of my recons, getting my gear ready and packing my knapsack, I ask myself the same question: “How would I feel if I read someone else had found the treasure in an area in which I was searching, but I had to return to my SUV because I didn’t bring my (fill in the blank)).
Good boots, for example.
These are my Herman Survivors. I love them. They’re tough, comfortable, triple stitched, waterproof, and have a steel plate inside the leather protecting the front of my foot. They have a thick, grippy sole that’s stable in water, and they clean up with a jet spray from my garden hose. I go through a pair about every ninety days. Because of me, not the boots. When I’m trekking I wear them with two socks, an inner silk one to prevent blistering and enable wicking and an outer wool one for comfort, and in the cold, warmth. You can find them in your local Wal Mart for about $60, or you can order them online at Amazon.com
There are more expensive boots. There are more technical boots. There are lighter, more expensive and more technical boots.
But, these boots are mine. And, when I find Fenn’s treasure, I’ll be wearing these boots.
I want to be cremated in them, so I can wear them on the other side. Whatever the heck the other side is, I mean.
If you find yourself someplace in the mountains North of Santa Fe, where you will experience a lot of different, challenging terrain, some of it wet and much of it other than level, make sure you’re wearing a pair of good boots. The kind of boots you can learn to love.
Reserve the damned athletic shoes for your next speed-walk around the mall.