300+ Miles from Home


Backside view of Glen Canyon Dam, Page, AZ

It was nearly 11 a.m. when I pulled out of my drive. By then, of course, traffic was not a problem as I easily made my way up I-17 to Flagstaff.

Upon reaching Flag, the heavens parted and down came the rain, quite a torrent at times. As I headed up US-89 toward Page, AZ, I thought I'd top off the ¾ of fuel used. But, as I pulled into the first gas station, I could see they had no lights, so no power for the pumps either. With hardly a change in speed I wheeled my truck back onto the road and continued Northward. However, I could see that the last stations as I left the Flagstaff area were also in the dark. Not knowing if a ¼ tank of gas would get me to Page, the next available (operational) station was at the Cameron Trading Post, 50 miles from Flagstaff. Knowing that few gas stations exist between Flag and Page, it was prudent to fill up when possible. Traffic was slowed by construction on 89 until past Tuba City and intermittent rain, showers and drizzle accompanied me the rest of the day. 


Near to 3:30 I arrived in Page and stopped before crossing the Glen Canyon Dam bridge so that I could take some photos. There were a lot of people venturing back into the area and were headed to the “beaches” to have fun in Lake Powell, which in this case is at the very end of the lake before it meets the dam. Being more interested in the views from higher ground, I hiked up on the red rocks and took in the great views. The  photo at the top of this page shows the backside of the dam and with the very noticeable “bath tub ring” on the gorge’s rocks. This shows just how much our drought has affected the water levels.                        

Keep in mind, what you see translates to a much more significant drop in the water level further and further back into the lake, where once submerged ridges and lower parts of mountains are now exposed again. Still, the marina is functioning and people were out enjoying the water.

From Page, which is on the border with Utah, the drive to Kanab is 73 miles. With one more stop at a scenic overlook on the other side of the lake, I could imagine that large portions of what is now visible, were also under water several years ago. 

With no time to dilly dally and getting tired I continued on through more of the red rock country, which felt like visiting an old friend as I have traveled this road several times before. It is a great place, natural beauty abounds and unusual rock formations are back in those cliffs and mountains, some of which I have ventured in to see. Though I felt beckoned to “come in and visit”, it was getting too late to allow myself time to explore. And, the rain, again hit and miss was my companion on the drive to Kanab.

In Kanab, I have a favorite motel where I always stay, The Redrock Country Inn. It is quaint, a bit dated, but has a charm and comfort that I enjoy. Having talked extensively with the owner on my last visit in this area 2 years ago, he, David, remembered me, as he greeting me at the desk. We talked for some time about the motel, his cave exploring, hiking and the last of my trip 2 years ago near Kanab. So that familiarity, as with seeing an old friend, exists not only in the landscape around these parts. 

Tomorrow I will continue my drive on US-89, until Spanish Fork, UT where I will merge onto Interstate 15 and pass through Salt Lake City with an overnight stop in Ogden. That will be about another 350 miles.

Mounting Up for a New Adventure

Don on horse MVC-004F

From several years ago on a Wagon Train trip in the Grand Teton Mountains

My new adventure to another National Park (Yellowstone) begins Thursday, July 31, 2014. 

Much like the photo above, this year a part of my wilderness experience will also be on horseback.

Bozeman, Montana is the starting point for this trip. I plan to take 3 days to travel to Bozeman, with anticipated stops near Page, AZ (or Kanab, UT), then near Salt Lake City, UT, and finally arriving in Bozeman on Saturday, August 2.  I will travel leisurely and stop to see the sights as time permits. The evening of 8/2 the group of 6 hikers and 2 guides will meet for an orientation to discuss packing our backpacks, backpacking in bear country, bear awareness and avoidance (or escape from) bears, and use of bear spray which the outfitters will supply to each of us. I have not met any of this little group, but know that we all will have a great experience. 

As I have said to several of my friends, the only real concern (FEAR) that I have on this trip is an entanglement with bears. However, I am confident that, being in a group, my chances of any real dangerous encounters with a bear is minimal. 

But, then, I got to thinking…hardly a night goes by that I don’t have to get up and “use the facilities”. What is to happen if I get up, go outside my tent and happen to come face to face with a bruin? 

I guess I could piss on him, but that might cost me - big time! 

Oww, I dread the thought! 

Making a lot of noise to make any critters know I’m up and about would probably only tick off my fellow campers and that would not be good either. Or maybe I should mark my territory each night leaving my “scent” all around my tent. 

Do you think that would work? 

Ummmm, I’ll have to see what the guides suggest and get back to you all on this. (Yeah, I know, more information than you cared to hear from me).

So, meanwhile, back to my schedule.

Here is my planned itinerary:

Thurs, 7/31, leave by early afternoon, drive to Page, AZ (or Kanab, UT)

Fri. 8/1, drive to Salt Lake City, UT (or nearby)

Sat. 8/2, arrive in Bozeman, MT.

Sun. 8/3 - 8/8, backpacking hike on the Bechler River Traverse, with the Wildland Trekking Co. 800-715-4453. This puts me out of reach by any electronic means.

Fri. 8/8, return to Bozeman, MT, spend the night there.

Sat. 8/9 - 8/12, exploring, camping. day hikes at various, yet undetermined places within Yellowstone National Park.

Wed. 8/13 - Sun. 8/17, Horse Pack trip into the Lee Metcalf Wilderness in NW Yellowstone N.P. with Yellowstone Mountain Guides, 406-646-7230. Again, out of reach.

After Sun. 8/17, I may explore more in Montana but will soon thereafter begin a southward journey, to Jackson, WY and the Grand Teton Mountains. I may do several day hikes in that area.

As I continue southward, I hope to stop at Flaming Gorge in lower WY., then continue on the Moah, UT and spend a few days in Arches National Park. After that I may go off road and explore areas like Dead Horse Point State Park, a Base Camp Ranch, Canyonlands, Muley Point, Valley of the Gods (all in Utah). That will bring me into Arizona with possible revisits to Monument Valley, Lake Powell and whatever other places intrigue me and pull me in their direction.

I have yet to complete all my packing, but will have time in the morning to complete that and load up my truck too so that I can set off by late morning, early afternoon for an approximate 300 mile first day drive.

Bear with me and look out for some grizzly tales…