I left work about 3 pm on Thursday so David and I were on the road heading south by about 4:30 pm. We were pulling my boat and heading for Lake Powell to do some arch hunting by boat. We had some trouble getting up Spanish Fork Canyon to the top of Soldier Summit because the boat is so heavy and it caused my Explorer to overheat. We made about a half dozen stops to cool down and found that it helped to disperse the engine heat if we ran the heater full blast.
We stopped for the night near Goblin Valley State Park, at the mouth of Temple Mountain Wash. However, it was hot, there was a nearly full moon and we had been drinking Mountain Dew all afternoon. We set up the tent and then blew up our air mattresses only to find that they no longer held air. We ended up sleeping on the boat since the seats fold down. We got to sleep about 1:00 am and we were up by 6:00 am.
We drove into Hanksville and filled up with gasoline. After filling the boat, the Explorer and a 2.5 gallon gas can with $1.65/gallon gasoline, the total was $65! Ouch!
An hour later we were at the Bullfrog Marina and ready to hit Lake Powell. We launched the boat and David stayed with it as it idled and I took the Explorer to the parking area a half a mile away. By the time I walked back to the boat, I found the engine had quit. I tried to restart it but couldn’t. I checked the engine compartment and found it was filling with water! We were sinking and we hadn’t even left the dock yet!
I ran most of the way up the hill to get the Explorer and boat trailer. I then zoomed past all of the people waiting to launch and pulled up next to the person at the front of the line. I rolled down my window and explained to him that we had a boat tied to the dock that was taking on water and I needed to cut in front of him. He waved me on but his wife nearly had a fit from the back of their boat.
While I was gone to get the Explorer, I had David unload everything onto the dock to lessen the weight. When I got the trailer in the water, I ran back to the boat and was glad to see it hadn’t gotten any worse. I then flagged down a kid on a personal watercraft and had him pull the boat over to the trailer.
We got the boat back on the trailer and pulled it part of the way up the ramp. I then pulled the drain plug and drained several hundred gallons of water back into the lake.
We then pulled the boat up to the gas station where they have a boat repair place to try to find a repairman to advise us. No one was interested in helping in any way whatsoever, so we left. We found a shady spot under a tree to the side of the gas station and began to look at the problem ourselves.
I then found two plugs in the glove box, left over from my winterizing job last fall. It took a while to find where they went but I finally found a drain hole on both sides of the engine to put them in. In other words, we were using the engine to pump water into the boat. There was no leak! When the engine quit, the water stopped coming in. We were in business again!
Back to the lake!
This time I waited my turn to launch the boat. When I started the engine, there was no sign of water coming in. Sweet!
It was afternoon by then and the water was really rough when we hit the main channel and turned west heading towards the dam many miles away. I wasn’t sure how to handle the boat so we just plowed through the waves. Slow speeds didn’t seem any better than fast speeds. Sometimes the waves were really bad and we did a lot of crashing through them. It was frightening at times. Still, we kept going, stopping along the way to take pictures of the natural arches.
We had taken some pictures of the same arches on our previous Lake Powell trip some five years earlier. My latest boat did handle the rough waves somewhat better than my previous boat. The further we traveled, the less the traffic and many stretches of the channel were fairly calm. We simply made the best way we could, stopping to take pictures along the way.
One of the first arches we stopped for was Annie’s Canyon Arch. That gave us a brief respite from the waves as we entered the short side canyon.
Another side canyon allowed access to the almost submerged Alice J. Arch. By the looks of the watermarks on the sandstone, it had been underwater not too long ago.
Several hours later (at between 30 and 35 miles mph) we had traveled the 58 miles to Dangling Rope Marina and we were low on gas. We stopped to fill up and have a Root Beer Float ($3.50) at the marina. Gasoline was $2.43/gallon! To fill up our 30-gallon tank cost $70! Ouch again! I hadn’t counted on this additional cost! It appears that this boat only gets about 2 miles per gallon.
Dangling Roper Marina is about half the way between Bullfrog Marina and Glen Canyon Dam. They had to put a marina here since boats wouldn’t have enough gas to go from one end to the other without filling up. There are no roads into Dangling Rope so everything is boated in. There is a convenience store with an ice cream stand, a ranger station, a boat repair station (imagine what they charge!), restrooms with flush toilets, a floating picnic area, and of course, a gas station. Stopping here is a nice break from being on the choppy water all day.
After filling up with gas and Root Beer, we continued to head downstream five or six miles to Rock Creek Bay where we wanted to revisit a couple of arches.
The last time we were here, we couldn’t find Humdinger Arch and my picture of Alcove Arch wasn’t very good. In fact, since it was getting late in the afternoon and the good camping areas would be taken, we found a place to dock and camp near where Humdinger Arch was supposed to be. We ended up setting up our tent on an incline but by the time we were ready for bed, we were too tired to care.
We were glad that it cooled off well when the sun disappeared behind the clouds. In fact, bathing in the lake was almost cold… and it felt great! Just after retiring for the night, we were treated to a short and illegal fireworks show by some people on a houseboat nearby. It was interesting how the fireworks lit up the canyons. I can’t say that I slept too well that night but it is hard for me to sleep the first night out anywhere I go. It didn’t help that we were using some cheap air mattresses that we had bought in Hanksville. I guess it was better than nothing though.
The next morning after breakfast, we moved the boat so we could hike up the canyon to find Humdinger Arch. Towards the top of the canyon, we ran into a covey of Chuckers. This is a game bird that I hadn’t seen in the wild for twenty years or more.
We never did find the arch in the area we were looking in. We did notice a rather large arch behind the fireworks houseboat so we decided that was it. We took the boat further up Rock Creek Bay to look at the possibility of hiking to Woolsey Arch but it was a five-mile hike to get there so we decided not to try. Too hot for such things.
However, we did locate a large class ‘C’ arch called Overlooked Arch, up the east arm of Rock Creek Bay, nearly to the end. (We are really good at locating arches when they are next to the water.)
Back in the boat, we headed back upstream and stopped in Wetherill Canyon to see if we could see Keyhole Arch. However, there was no place to dock the boat. It was all sheer cliffs. We had to give up that project.
Just around the corner from Wetherill Canyon, we found Carrot Top Arch near the sandstone tower referred to as the Carrot Top.
We then headed further upstream, past Dangling Rope Marina to Rainbow Bridge National Park. We really didn’t need to go there but we were in the area and we felt an obligation to pay tribute to one of the premier natural bridges in the world. The boat dock was near the bridge and the lake water actually reached under the bridge. We took a few pictures and got back on the boat.
On the way up the canyon to Rainbow Bridge, we passed a smaller class ‘D’ size natural arch called Bridge Canyon Arch.
Now we didn’t have enough gas to get anywhere else so it was 12 miles back to Dangling Rope Marina for another $70 fill up and another Root Beer Float. More ouch!
We then headed upstream to the San Juan arm of Lake Powell which runs mostly east and west. This was an amazing area! Because of the remoteness of this arm, most people can’t carry enough gas to enjoy these canyons. Yet the San Juan represents a quarter of Lake Powell. It was wonderful. Very few people, fantastic canyon scenery and mirror surface water to fly over. However, the area was not marked by sign buoys so we got confused several times as to where the main channel went.
We wanted to go up the San Juan arm for 12 miles to Deep Canyon where we wanted to visit a large class ‘A’ arch called Beverly Arch. We finally found the canyon but it quickly narrowed into sheer cliffs. At the very end there was a place to dock a boat but there was already a large boat there. We asked permission to squeeze by and that turned out to be a tricky maneuver that required the help of both boat crews. A guy on the other boat told us where we could see Beverly Arch by heading up the channel a short way. Sure enough, it could be seen in the high cliffs but our pictures into the sun surely wouldn’t turn out well.
Trying to maneuver in this tight canyon, I managed to bump the cliff wall with one corner of the boat. There wasn’t much damage but it did upset me some.
I would have liked to see a little more of the San Juan arm but we were passing the halfway point on our gas. It was time to head back to Dangling Rope Maria and hour third $70 gasoline fill up. We were tired of Root Beer Floats so we passed on that.
By now we were hot and tired. We were especially tired of bouncing around on the water and paying $70 for gas. We decided to head back towards Bullfrog Marian and get that long trip behind us. The next couple of hours of travel were especially punishing. Especially hitting the wake of those big tour boats that take tourists from Glen Canyon Dam to Rainbow Bridge. I thought those rolling waves were going to topple us over. We had to hit three of them just that day. And it didn’t help that a harsh wind had come up and was really whipping up big waves.
By the time we pulled into Halls Creek Bay (the bay next to Bullfrog Bay) we were hammered and just wanted to get off the water. We were also almost out of gas since it takes a lot of gas to push a boat through those waves. We had a small 2.5-gallon gas can left that we hoped would finish the trip to the marina the next morning.
We pulled into a beach on the lee side of a small island that we hoped would help protect us from the wind and waves. We set up the tent in a strong wind and discovered that the “sandy beach” was wind-blown sand — not beach sand. Soon the inside of the tent and all of our gear was coated in fine sand. We just hoped that the wind would quit after sundown as it had the night before.
That night the wind got stronger. At times I thought it was going to blow the tent down. I got up several times to check the status of the boat. I couldn’t sleep on the boat either since it was rolling too much in the waves. I went back to the tent and got some sleep in the sand and flapping tent material. It was miserable. Even earplugs didn’t help much.
By sun up, the wind had almost quit. We used the opportunity to bathe in the lake and get the sand off. After breakfast, we drove the boat a short distance away where it took quite some time to find a safe place to dock again. We then hiked up the right (north) side of a small canyon to Halls Creek Bridge, a class ‘B’ sized bridge which was located about a mile from the shore. That was the most fun we had all trip.
We took pictures and headed back to the boat. We had lunch there and then decided to head for home. Our remaining gas got us across Hall Creek Bay and halfway across Bullfrog Bay before giving out. (There is a small passage between the two bays so we didn’t have to go clear out to the main channel.) In the middle of Bullfrog Bay, we used our 2.5-gallon gas can to get us to the marina. Then it was a half-mile hike up the hill to get the Explorer and boat trailer. A while later we were off the lake — probably for another five years!
It was Saturday afternoon and we headed home, tired and sunburned. I think I even sunburned my hair!