Today we are going to Muse about a weekend spent in the canyons and on the beaches of Lake Powell. If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.
A Summer Weekend on Lake Powell
Bumper to stern traffic . . . that was my first impression of Lake Powell. This was some time ago, but my then wife and I had loaded the boys and dogs into our car,
hitched up the boat and headed out for a Fourth of July Weekend on the lake.
Lake Powell is located in the north-east corner of Arizona and crosses into the south-east corner of Utah. The southwestern end of Lake Powell in Arizona can be accessed via U.S. Route 89 and State Route 98. State Route 95 and State Route 276 lead to the northeastern end of the lake in Utah. It is quite a large body of water which opens into wide vistas and snakes through narrow canyons. The shoreline measures 1900 miles. It is a major recreation area.
Now you must know that it is hot in the desert in July. People swarm out of the cities and head to bodies of water when they can. Fourth of July weekend sees a major exodus from Phoenix. We were part of it. It might surprize you to learn that boat ownership per capita in Arizona is one of the highest in the US. That is what we discovered when we put the boat in the water at Wahweap Marina near Page, AZ.
There were boats coming from all directions, jockeying into place to get gas. What a mess! We were in one line or another for nearly three hours before we reached the pumps. That’s Fourth of July!
Once we had gas I said, “Lets get outta here. Now!” and off we cruised into the channels of the lake.
This was the first time I had been on the lake and I really didn’t know much about it. My boat had a range of about 60 miles on a tank of gas. I later learned that there were several marinas up lake but for the moment I didn’t want to get too far afield from Wahweap Marina.
About 20 miles out we found an isolated beach and set up our camp. That was what I found so amazing: isolated beach.
There were so many boats at the marina that I thought we would never be free of them. However, the lake is so vast that once out in it off the main channel we would rarely see another boat. We were completely alone at our camp.
We set up our tent near the water. As an aside, I never liked this tent. It was a Fathers Day gift and, although the thought was right, the design was not. The polls were flimsy and the high-profile made it vulnerable to wind. In the desert where there are few trees for shelter, wind can be a problem. But this is what we had, so I set it up. Grouse, grouse!
During the days we would water ski or just cruise about. We went to the Rainbow Bridge.
The water was high when we were on the lake and we could cruise right to it. I understand today with the water level being down you have to hike in about half a mile.
There are lots to explore.
In nearby canyons there are Anasazi ruins and there are petroglyphs.
The canyons of the lake are stunning.
We were there three days. In the morning when we would awaken, the water would be as smooth as glass, not a ripple.
Normally I slept out of the tent on the sand, it was so pleasant. And there was total silence. It was magical. As the day progressed, in the distance boats would roar up and down the channel, setting up a wave action that would radiate out into the side canyons creating a choppy surface.
July is Monsoon season in Arizona, subject to thunderstorms, lightning, high winds and sand storms.
High winds came upon us the last night. About 10 o’clock the gusts started. The tent shook and swayed. The boys, dogs, my wife and I huddled inside and battened down to keep out of the stinging blowing sand. Around midnight the winds were reaching gale force. The tent poles bent and snapped and the tent collapsed and rolled us a few feet like pigs in a blanket. We were like that until about 5Am when the winds let up.
The fun was over for me. I had had it. And, I was tired from having no sleep after a day of activity on the lake. I said, “Lets pack up and go. We can get a motel in Page.” So we loaded up the boat and headed home for Wahweap Marina.
On our way we came across a boat that signaled us for help. They said they were nearly out of gas and asked if we could tow them back. I threw them a line and almost immediately their engine died. So for about 20 miles we towed them. It reminded me of old Victory at Sea films. Our bow would plow into the waves and emerge just as their bow would plow into the wave. This went on and on for miles.
Eventually we reached the marina and I got the car and trailer and secured the boat. I chucked the miserable tent into a dumpster as we went past. And off we went in search of a room in which to crash before going home.
Have you ever done that? On a major holiday weekend at a major holiday destination go look for a room without reservations? Not too productive, was it? Nada, None, Nothing . . . that is what we found in the way of rooms in Page, Bitter Springs, Cameron, Flagstaff, Camp Verde, etc. They were all booked. From Lake Powell home to Phoenix is about 280 miles. I drove nearly the whole way, dead tired. Eventually, I gave up and pulled off the road where we slept in the car for a couple of hours and then continued on to home.
Except for our departure the weekend was fabulous. You don’t need to own a boat to enjoy Lake Powell. I have friends who have rented a house boat and spent a week on the lake and others that have taken boat excursions lasting anywhere from several hours to several days. If you find yourself in the area you will not be sorry to take the time to go to Lake Powell.
More to come
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