Saturday, October 6, 2018

Note to the reader. This report is about a 5-night trip we intended to do into the San Rafael Swell and Orange Cliffs unit of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

A cursory look at the weather forecast didn’t look good. As we got closer to Go Day it didn’t get better, but on Saturday were all on our way. Too much momentum had built up and the only way to know was to go. By early afternoon it was raining hard in Monticello. I stopped at the Peace Tree Cafe to do a sit, wait, and try to come up with a reasonable idea about what to do. None came, so I moved on to our destination this day, the Wind Whistle Campground in Canyon Rims Recreation Area.

By the time I got to the campground, it had stopped raining for a bit and even warmed up, giving me a chance to commit to the fool’s errand of setting up camp. I did that and it started to rain off and on for the duration of our stay in Utah. Judy and John and then Daisy and Louise came around. Daisy and Louise had to sit in traffic for 90 minutes in  Shiprock while the annual parade went through town. I knew there was a yearly traffic horror story and had managed to avoid it. Now I know and so does anyone who reads this that you need to stay off Highway 64 in Shiprock on the first Saturday in October.

So we’re all sitting in our cars, whistling at Wind Whistle, wondering what to do and Judy suggests we go to Needles Overlook. This was on the agenda anyway and it turned out to be the highlight of the trip that was consumed primarily by lowlights. After returning to the campsite, everyone else decided to head for Moab or Monticello and motel it for the night. I was committed and would stay the night at camp. We decided we would text or call each other with spotty cell service about a decision the next morning.

Sunday morning came and it was a foregone conclusion that this gig was over. All that was left was to communicate and go on to our devices and/or vices. My vice is that I like to get up really early on my last day in camp. I did that and was kind of enjoying breaking camp and eating a cold breakfast in between breaks in the rain. By 5:30 or so I was feeling pretty tall in my britches for doing that. Backing out of my dark-as-ink campsite onto the road, I was not able to judge distance and went right across and onto a slope on the far side of the road where my rear wheels dug in real nice and tight.

So now it’s 5:45 AM, in the dark, in the rain, and I’m stupidly stuck and I’m trying to come up with a reasonable idea of what to do for the second time in 24 hours. There are no reasonable solutions here. With that short thought experiment out of the way, it is time to unload the truck of all the gear and line up some 2x4s I had brought along for this purpose of building a ramp. The problem was though is that I could not get them lined up properly without guidance. I needed help.

I hate help but everyone needs it from time to time. There were a couple of fellas from Missouri in a nearby camp that I had been chatting with on Saturday. They had been sitting around under their tarp in the rain for a couple of days and were bored. One of them was a big rig truck driver and he was already getting up when I went over there. He had heard the commotion, had an idea what was up and was happy to help. I was astounded and grateful. He lined me up and I escaped vehicular purgatory.

Neither of these guys would accept any remuneration or gift other than a heartfelt thanks and handshake.

Now all I had to do was head into cell range and let everyone know what they knew already. Stopping once again at Peace Tree, I ran into a couple of folks with appropriate attire for the activities they had planned, similar for the activities we once had planned.  The young man asked me what conditions were like. I silently pointed to my rain and sand soaked boots and clothes. He understood. Next, I called Louise and Daisy to tell them it was off. She invited me over to their motel room for a bit and I thankfully did that changing into clean, dry clothes and cleaning up.  The motel was filling up with soaked denizens whose plans had been ruined or waylayed.  Apparently, this was happening all over as I heard later from John as he and Judy were bounced from Moab to Monticello and finally to Cortez by booked up towns, dodging storms and traffic.

In conclusion, I believe that nothing was lost but time. We the participants of this voyage are of the vintage that there is not a whole lot of that left to us. Because of that, we are also very experienced and this kind of thing has happened to us before and will again. We learned much from this trip, the lessons of which we will use on others. Finally, we had an adventure. Short and prosaic but adventure still because that can only occur when things go wrong.

SK Lund