story by Sandra Leinweber - Harper, Texas - USA
photos and videos mostly by Chuck Leinweber

Part 2
(back to Part 1)

Boat traffic (mostly speedboats, houseboats and jet skis) diminished as we got farther from the marina at Bullfrog.  Our general destination was Good Hope Bay, a wide spot in the lake, and we found a perfect spot in a small cove.  Wil and Ruby were instantly in the water, and Helen and I joined them.  The water in Lake Powell is perfect for swimming—clear and cool and if the fish nibbled on our toes a bit that was okay.  After a swim, Chuck and I took a hike up into the hills.  There were big patches of gray powdery looking rock outcrops, and I wanted to see what it looked like up close.  It felt like a mixture of ash or clay and sand, and I am guessing it was eroded siltstone or mudstone.  We found a broken apart log of petrified wood partly buried in one outcrop.  Cottonwood trees and dense thickets of bush marked some of the deeper gullies on the hillsides bright green, and we hiked into one and sat with our hot feet in the cold water of the small spring that disappeared back underground before ever reaching the lake. 

When we first arrived at the Good Hope camp, Sandra and I joined Jim, Steve and Helen for a snack in the shade of Jim's big mainsail.
Sandra's dainty feet give scale to the petrified log we found. It was so far from camp we did not even think about carrying it back - it is illegal to remove them anyway.

Dinner was a la Jim Thayer, and he kept his menu a tight secret until just before serving.  The  drill is that everyone who is not cooking gathers at the boat or cook site of whoever is preparing dinner that night with their plate and utensils and respectfully waits until we are invited to devour.  We feasted on Chow Mein—crisp Chinese vegetables and chicken on rice.  Delicious!  Fresh sliced tomatoes with balsamic vinegar on the side and chocolate cheesecake from Steve Thayer for desert.  Pure heaven. 

Jim converted his cockpit into a kitchen to prepare the wonderful meal that night.
Camp food!  You just can't beat it.

Lots of driftwood here, so we built a big fire, and pretty soon there were fireworks from a boat in the next cove.  “Bottle rockets”, said John.  And our Cremora bomb expert began to assemble the second of our trip.  I don’t know the details, but in involves a little black powder, a length of fuse and a big container of Cremora.  Someone has to light the fuse and run away, and pretty soon, it looks like nothing whatsoever is going to happen, and about the time our expert says, “It’s a dud”, there is a big Whoosh!, and a huge cloud of burning Cremora particles explode into the sky.  Take that, bottle rockets!

This is short but sweet - listen to the whoops at the end

We had pitched our tent on the level top of the hill behind the cove, so we watched the stars for a bit before falling asleep.  The weather had been perfect and would continue to be perfect.  There are no mosquitoes, no no see ums, few spiders, and we saw no snakes.  I heard very distant coyotes howling one night.  Other than the ravens, we saw only small birds, probably sparrows or wrens.

Sandra must have stolen my camera to take this. It is our tent site overlooking Good Hope Bay.


Thursday was our day for stopping at every shore that looked interesting, and the one we stopped at to find some shade and take a nap turned out to be the best.  We could see Tom Gale and John Dennison far across the bay, and since we had all agreed that we would meet below Cathredral Rock that afternoon, we were puzzled, since they had gone south of the rock, and we wondered if they were looking for a campsite somewhere else. 

Heather took this great picture of Tom sailing near Castle Rock.

We stopped where we could keep an eye on them, just to see where they might go.  After snoozing under some tamarisk, we walked along the beach and came to a short section that was covered with geodes.  Some of them were still round and whole, but most had split open, and they were filled with beautiful crystals.  The way geodes form is debated by geologists, but we like the theory of them being spit fully formed from volcanoes, (even though that has some problems) and we are sticking with it.  We picked two of the best and took them along to show and tell. 

Steve Axon told us he was going to teach us a new game but that we needed to find some sticks. Young Wil and I stopped along the shore to look for some.

Steve Axon found our camp for the night, and he had the sunshade set up by the time we arrived.  We spent a good deal of time under Steve’s sunshade, and it was a good thing.   Another mostly level beach, and covered with petrified wood fragments.  Steve organized a fun game of sticks and holes, while John cooked a lovely dinner that began with appetizers, progressed to ravioli and finished with cherries jubilee.  Thank you, John!

I thought this was our best camp - when Jim Thayer arrived, he unloaded a watermelon.
Wil and Ruby sure seemed to like it.
To work up an apetite for dinner, we played Steve's game: Sticks and Holes
Tom helped John cook dinner in the cockpit of Tom's Venture.

We left the next morning knowing that we were heading for the last campsite.  We had reached the point of wishing the trip could last forever, so we took our time.  There is a big bend in the lake at this point, like going around a big corner.  I like corners, you never know what will be there around the next bend. 
Turning the corner into the big bend, we see Helen waving from shore.

“I have found my tombstone,” she calls.

This is too good to ignore.  Steve has taken photos of Helen lying at the foot of her stone. She holds up a perfectly formed tombstone of ripple stone.  I am looking on Google, seeing if I can find anything about ripplestone—surely it is recognized term, but I can find nothing, and I must be using the wrong word. This stuff is amazingly beautiful. 

Steve took this picture of Helen and her rippletombstone

Around the next bend are bighorn sheep, grazing.  Chuck decided to see how close to shore he could paddle before they ran away.  He was about to touch land before they even seemed to notice him and slowly moved off. 

Steve got a much better picture of the Bighorns than I did. Here is his shot.

Another corner, and we found a little cove behind some big rocks that made another good bath spot, and later a little outcropping making shade where we had lunch.    The combination of rocks and water is irresistible.  The rocks rarely change, but the water, the light, the wind all seem to be in constant motion, and the lake is always new, every minute. 

You can't tell from this shot of Sandra eating lunch and enjoying the scenery, but it is a sheer wall behind us making the shade we are in.

The afternoon becomes a repeat of yesterday.  We are parked on a shore, watching to see what the rest of our group will decide about a campsite.  There is always a bit of a power struggle in this.  Nothing unpleasant, but there is usually some difference of opinion, often having to do with the discussion held at breakfast which may or may not be honored if certain sites in a different spot present themselves later and are found to be perfect which is what happens tonight.  We see (from way across the lake) Tom Gale head into a cove and stop there.  We paddle across the lake and find that he has located a beautiful spot in a small cove that will hold us all quite nicely.  There are tent sites up above with a view and a breeze, and best of all, we find in our afternoon hike that there is every kind and pattern of ripple rock in a variety of formations.  Chuck takes many photographs with my feet for a scale reference. 

This was one of our prettiest camps. It turned out that when the lake is full, this place is not only under water, but a mile from the nearest shore.
Sandra was really taken with the rocks and she wanted to take some home, picking different ones up and carrying them for a while before putting them down again.

The last supper is perfect.  Tom and Heather serve beef and rice and cheese burritos with fresh tomatoes and brownies for desert.  Our bomb expert serves up our final and best Cremora bomb.  We sit and watch the flames of our driftwood fire and slowly drift off to our beds. 

Steve Thayer helps himself to some of Tom Gale's burrito fixin's.

Have I mentioned that paddling our kayaks is a joy, not a chore?  There is no hurry, no rush, no deadlines beyond the coming of dark and the finding of a spot to camp.  We swim, we piddle, we hike and we explore.  If our arms become weary, we stop and drift. If our butts become sore, we stop and get out and walk around or lay under a shade rock or tamarisk.  We watch the water, we gaze at the rocks, we talk about what to do next or tomorrow or next year.  

Steve Axon took this picture of Sandra and I paddling - we can't thank Jim Michalak enough for these fine designs.

Saturday morning, no one wants to leave, but then again, as we eat our granola and powdered milk, we are thinking about hash browns and two eggs over easy or even cheeseburgers, and we pack up and head up lake.  Only then do I see the deposits of river rock that I missed the day before.  My boat would be loaded up with water rounded treasure had I known, but just as well, I am low in the water already, and Chuck won’t let me stop.  The lake is glassy this morning, and just watching the wake disturb the reflections is hypnotic.  We don’t hurry, but we make steady progress towards Hite, and can see it long before we arrive, almost as if it is downhill.  Somehow, we get there first, and Chuck is sure the store will have cheeseburgers, and after pulling the boats up on shore, we head up the long hill.  No hot food there, but we share a frozen Snickers bar and I drink most of a big bottle of cranberry juice.  

Just after we left our last camp I got this shot of Sandra paddling on the glassy water.
As we got closer to Hite, the rocks really put on a show - as if they were tempting us to stay.

The wind has been sketchy, and it is a long wait for Jim and Steve Thayer to arrive, since wind is their only power.  We can see them in the long distance hours before they arrive.  No matter, we find some shade and talk about the trip with Steve and Helen and John.  Steve Thayer’s truck is the shuttle vehicle and once all have landed, he takes everyone but Helen and Ruby and Wil and I to pick up the other vehicles, so we settle down to wait—they will be gone about 3 hours.  After 2-1/2, I unpack the kayaks and am amazed at the pile of gear we were carrying.

Heather forgot to call "Shotgun" and ended up riding in the back of Steve's pickup for the shuttle. She did not seem to mind, though.

It is late afternoon by the time we all load our boats and gear, and the plan for camping at Thin Man (a spot with a slot canyon to explore) that night has been squelched—they drove past it on the shuttle and it was already crowded with campers.  We decide to stay at Hite and it is fine.  We will get halfway home tomorrow, back along a route we have pretty well memorized by now.  Lake Powell rocks, and yes, the ravens are always watching.


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