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by Sandra Leinweber - Harper, Texas - USA

Part One - Part Two - Part Three

Reprinted from Messing About in Boats, Volume 22 - Number 16, January 1, 2005, pp. 12-15.

We hauled the boat cushions out and lay on our backs naming constellations and watching for shooting stars and satellites (and UFOs, of course). The next morning Chuck and I got up early and hiked up to the base of Castle Rock. A full lake would have had water lapping at the base, splashing onto the pile of eroded pieces of white and red sandstone we climbed up on.

As it was, it took 20-30 minutes to reach by foot. Today was our last day at Wahweap. After breakfast we toured the upper end of the bay and then headed for the other side of the lake and the ramp at Stateside. Chuck let me off at the dock and I hiked up the hill to the car. Craig and Linda were off to Phoenix for the rest of their vacation. We would be spending the night in Page. There are at least two places in town where, for a fee, one can log on to the internet and see how business is going.

The next morning we set off on the second leg of our trip, a compromise as it were. In three days we were to meet another group of boaters for a messabout at Stanton Canyon, near Bullfrog, clear around on the other side of the lake. Close to a hundred miles by boat, we thought we would be wise to drive around. Our deal was basically that if I could spend a bit of time on land in canyon country, Chuck could desert me at the messabout if need be. I wanted to see Capitol Reef National Park, so we headed north. Chuck wanted the scenic drive, so shortly after leaving Page, we took a dirt and gravel road through Cottonwood Canyon, a 40-mile-long dirt and gravel road.

It was certainly scenic, if somewhat bone rattling. Long stretches were of the washboard variety. At one point a shrill horn begin to sound and we immediately stopped, expecting some sort of emergency vehicle to pass. I imagined a vehicle over a cliff. The horn stopped, too. We started up again and so did the horn. Somehow our little emergency airhorn had wedged itself into a spot in Ladybug where every bounce set it off. Not the best road to be hauling a boat trailer over, but except for a couple of sheered stainless screws on the back crutch holding the mast and boom, we survived to the other end. At the other end was Kodachrome Basin State Park, so named because of the colors of the rocks all around and in the little box canyon where the campground lies. Another geological anomaly were the tall skinny sandpipes. Geologists believe the park was once similar to Yellowstone National Park, with hot springs and geysers which eventually filled up with sediment and solidified.


Kellan Hatch and his trimaran, Curious.

Mirage drive on Curious.


Jim Thayer in his Nina, light winds. The boats
in the distance are huge houseboats, moored
on the other shore of the lake.

Jack Hicks in his daughter Heather's Whitehall. Grandson Wil in the water.



Jack's boat, JimThayer's A Duckah design.

As the surrounding sandstone eroded away, the pipes remained, some 60-plus. One of them stood sentinel next to our campsite. By noon the next day we were driving into Capitol Reef National Park. We attended a talk on the geology of the area at the ranger station and learned about the Waterpocket Fold, the 100-mile-long uplift that distinguishes the park. I'm not sure I understand the whole process, but I did learn that there were once very high mountains here that have largely eroded away. We camped along the Fremont River, picked excellent apples in the orchards planted by the Mormons, who first lived in the area, and hiked up the side of the mountain across the road into a beautiful hidden canyon.

The next morning we were coming around the big curve of highway back down into the Colorado River drainage, craning our necks at the top of every hill, expecting to see the lake appear any minute. We knew it would be soon when the beached whales of houseboats began to show up in the storage yards by the side of the road. Fingers of lake soon appeared in the canyons off to the side of the highway. The ranger taking money at the entrance station said we must be with the other fellows who had come through earlier, pulling sailboats and carrying kayaks on their top racks. The turnoff for Stanton Creek came before we reached Bullfrog.

We met Jeff Blunck from Fort Collins, Colorado, on the way in. He was on his way out to launch his Sneakeasy at Bullfrog, it was too long for the rough and ready beach launch at Stanton Creek. He told us how to find the other messabouters, but we did not listen very well and we would still be driving around looking if Chuck had not hauled out the GPS and the camp coordinates and got us pointed in the right direction. Around the last corner and the pirate flag of wild man Bruce Anderson appeared. Out in the little bay below the camp were Kellan Hatch and his son Elliot in their trimaran, Curious, powered by the Hobie Mirage Drive. Dave and Anita Hahn of Delta, Utah (Dave had the idea for this messabout) sailed and rowed towards us in their dinghy.

While we looked for a good spot to set up camp, Jim Thayer (whose Lake Powell Kokopelli annual messabout would be at the full moon later in October) drove in with his sailboat, Nina. Soon his friend Jack Hicks would appear at the mouth of the bay, rowing his A Duckah. Right behind Jack was his daughter, Heather Gale, rowing her Whitehall. What fine graceful boats! The smooth rhythmic process of rowing only adds to the beauty. With Heather were her husband Tom and children Wil and Ruby from Cache Valley, Utah. Wil and Ruby spent a good deal of time in the water and the mud! When Bruce came back in his sailing pirogue he was accompanied by Randy Swedlund and Dustin Robb, all three from Prescott.

The "ramp" turned out to be a tilted rocky ledge that continued far enough into the water to afford some traction when unloading the boat. After watching one fellow launch a good-sized fiberglass jobbie, we thought we could manage! Thank goodness for small boats and tilting trailers. The Ladybug went into the water with ease. I would like to say she sailed briskly away, but the air by then was quite still. Jeff came sliding in in the Sneakeasy. Unfortunately, one of his bearings somewhere had become quite hot on his motor over from the ramp and it put him out of commission. The Ladybug was put into service as a tow boat, taking Jeff back to the ramp where the Sneakeasy came back out of the water.

To be continued...

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