So long, Barke Diem

Nick

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This is a two trip combo report from our two summer trips out into Glen Canyon this year, and sadly, our last trips on our pontoon boat. We had pretty much forgotten the idea of selling it but on a whim I reposted it with a firm asking price and it was purchased sight unseen. We loved it and all of the trips we took, but we were to the point that 1-2 trips per year out there was all we wanted and we didn't have much desire to use it elsewhere, so it was starting to make less sense to own. It couldn't have been better timing though as we still got two great summer trips in.

Our first was in early June, right after Memorial Day weekend. Last year we determined this was one of the best times of the year out there due to the warm temps and post-holiday lull. It didn't disappoint this year either. We setup camp just upstream from La Gorce Arch in Davis Gulch on the Escalante Arm. For the first time ever our campsite was situated so that we had shade all day, every day. The water would get sunny, and part of our beach would get sunny, but there was prime, nap-worthy shade all over the place, and we took full advantage.

Kayaking up Davis with Sage one evening.
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Audra and Patina paddling Davis. Patina wasn't very good in the kayak. She kept getting too close to the bow and falling out.
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Camp in the distance. It wasn't under much of an overhang so the perma-shade was a surprise.
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It was only 100 yards or so to paddle into the arch room. La Gorce is just out of view on the left.
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The next day we slept until 11 something. SHADE!!! Later that afternoon Taylor and I paddled to the end of the reservoir and hiked up Davis Gulch.
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Davis is definitely more bush-whackey than most Escalante Canyons, but it is still a pleasure to walk. This would all be under water if Lake Powell were full.
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Arriving back at camp to a happy, napping wife.
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I've really fallen in love with evening cruises out there. We usually motor out until we have some nice, glowing walls and then just sit there until it's pretty much dark. Driving back through the narrow canyons after dark is exhilarating.
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We made an attempt at hiking Explorer Canyon in June but it was plugged full of driftwood. And now on to our July trip. It was stupid hot out there. And yeah, I know what you're thinking, it's July at Lake Powell. But this was unusually hot. Highs were around 108˚ each day with the lows in the 90's. We've had trips that were 104-ish. It's amazing how a few extra degrees makes such a big difference.

Lucky for us we scored another incredible campsite that never got any sun. But our beach and swimming area got plenty. Perfect! The only time I ever felt too hot was sleeping at night, and I can deal with that. Our spot was up Fiftymile Creek through a narrow section that kept the houseboats out. I can't imagine a better mid-summer spot out there. Sometime on the second day we decided to paddle to the top of Fiftymile and go for a hike.
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The water was peaking out for the year, and it was also the highest it's been in the last 5 years. It was sad to see the exquisite Fiftymile subterranean narrows under water.
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Those lines of past water/muck levels were still there from when I walked this canyon 4 years ago.
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Lucky for us, the log stew mulch cleared up just as the lake ended.
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The walk up Fiftymile was shorter than I would like, but still wonderful.
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Seeing this waterfall dry was a real surprise. This is usually the high water mark of the reservoir.
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I've never heard of Fiftymile as anything other than a perennial stream, but the 108˚ summer temps had baked it dry. It was clear that water returned in some areas when the sun went down, but the main channel in this area was dry as a bone.
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Heading back into the narrows.
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Our campsite on my birthday, having a feast of bacon and pancakes.
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The birthday noodle session went on for a while. So did the non-birthday noodle sessions each day.
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And then we did a little tubing and I looked scared.
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We went back to Explorer Canyon to find it still plugged with logs. Very disappointing as it has rarely even been accessible for the last few years due to water levels. But our consolation prize turned out to be even more spectacular. We pushed through some logs and made it into the upper Escalante, far beyond where I'd ever been before.
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This area hadn't been flooding in 5+ years so it was kind of like seeing it go down for the first time with mature trees lining the shore in many places.
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We kept going, and going. Past Cow Canyon, and almost to Rose before we were motoring through about 2 feet of water. We tied up the boat and continued walking. The water was almost disgustingly warm. The temp gauge on my boat saw water temperatures into the 90's before we started walking.
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Soon we were walking a beautifully restored section of the Escalante River.
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Back to where we tied up the boat.
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The next day we did a bunch of informal service projects. Knocking down cairns, picking up junk, and in this case, climbing up and removing this huge houseboat rope someone had installed for cliff jumping. In a month or so the water would drop and leave this rope dangling on the wall for the foreseeable future.
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And then a little more wakeboarding. Let's start with this classic wakeboard enema.
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Late that evening we stopped in Clear Creek. The Cathedral in the Desert is well under water but on the bright side, it was easy to get past the next set of waterfalls that I'd never been able to climb up before.
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And that's it. The older I get, the worse I seem to get at taking photos and sharing them, so I missed a lot. And I miss that boat, but knowing I wouldn't even have a chance to use it again until next summer helps to know it was the right decision. I'll be out there again next year for a trip or two, this time with a rental.
 
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Wow! Extraordinarily well photographed. Helps to have world class scenery but you capture it well.

I, for one, will greatly miss the Barke even though I only had one extraordinary whale-hunting trip aboard her. Thanks for that pal.
 
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Nick

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I, for one, will greatly miss the Barke even though I only had one extraordinary whale-hunting trip aboard her. Thanks for that pal.
The motorized cataraft I picked up is well suited for a repeat of that kind of trip if you're ever in the mood. She doesn't move as fast, and it's a bit more of an adventure, but with a more backpacking-like approach and the right crew, she'd do just fine. No slalom skiing though, which reminds me, I need to get yours back to you the next time we see each other.
 
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The motorized cataraft I picked up is well suited for a repeat of that kind of trip if you're ever in the mood. She doesn't move as fast, and it's a bit more of an adventure, but with a more backpacking-like approach and the right crew, she'd do just fine. No slalom skiing though, which reminds me, I need to get yours back to you the next time we see each other.
Are you sure no slalom skiing? I once skied behind a small boat with a 40 hp motor. And another time, as a child, in a backyard swimming pool with my colleagues pulling the tow rope away from the pool. You had to get up and then back down quick. Concrete pool rims hurt. :)

Course both those were on two skis....
 

Nick

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Right now it only has an 18hp motor. I think my max speed is probably 10-ish mph with a heavy load. Can you ski behind that? :)
 
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#7
Beautiful!
 

DrNed

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Concrete pool rims hurt. :)
Ok, that made me literally laugh out loud.

I live in Pleasant Grove and the old timers talk about skiing the Murdock Canal. They'd get
a truck on the dirt road that ran next to it and pull somebody.
 

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