Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Power of Clarity


A friend and I were "Jeeping" deep in the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park. We had spent hours driving up and over a section that required steep climbs and low range gearing called Elephant Hill.

We had reached a point where were outside the park boundary and were soon going to turn around and head back over Elephant Hill to camp. 

When Canyonlands National Park was relatively young, my family explored this area in our old CJ5 Jeep and we went as far as Bobby’s Hole and made the steep climb up and then turned around.
I was curious to see how difficult Bobby’s Hole was, decades later when I was in the area with my own Jeep. 

As we got closer to Bobby’s Hole, my friend misjudged a section of the trail and ended up disabling his front differential, making it too risky to go back the way we came as he no longer had 4 wheel drive capability. 

I didn't have a detailed map of the area, but noticed on a very basic park map an alternate way out but it would be around five times the original distance. We really had no other choice so off we went without a map and just an idea of how to get back to our camp.

On the way “out” via Bobby’s Hole, we encountered quite a few roads branching off in different directions. None of them had and signs indicating where they would take us. I just simply chose roads that would take us in a north eastern or eastern direction, as a western direction would only take us further into an area called Beef Basin. All the while hoping we were heading on roads that would get us back to camp.


After many hours of travel, some very slippery wet sections of road, and a few detours we finally reached a point I recognized. I could see the paved road in the distance that would take us back into the main entrance to the park. Only at that point did I have some confidence we'd find our way back.

It was at the point in time that I also suddenly realized how beautiful the area we were in really was. I had been so focused on finding a way back to camp that I missed the amazing surrounding we were in!

I've been back many times since and love exploring the Beef Basin area. That first trip however, was focused on just finding a way through it.

Multiple lessons can be learned from that experience.

One example is I always take detailed maps whenever I venture into the back country just in case I need to change plans and take an alternative route.

Another lesson is the importance of having extra supplies which could include gas and food. Since that trip I also carry what I call my rescue bag to assist with extracting a vehicle out of a bad situation.

The biggest lesson for me was how not knowing where you are going can really distract you from the positive experiences being presented all around you at the time. 

Since that first adventure I’ve thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Beef Basin area as well as retracing the route original route we took all the back over Elephant Hill.

I also went back to that area to explore the possibility of hiking the Salt Creek area and have since completed 5 different Salt Creek hikes from the access road I was originally struggling to find my way through. All the time fully immersed in the present moment of such a spectacular part of the National Park and surrounding areas bordering the park now well-known as part of the Bears Ears National Monument.

The experience has helped me appreciate the value of having a plan and mapping out where to go. In life, most people really don’t have much of a plan for their lives.

Had we had a good map when it came to improvise our trip, we would have avoided wrong turns and backtracking, as well as been able to focus a lot more attention on the amazing scenery and enjoyed the journey a lot more.

Clarity of purpose and a plan is very powerful in helping us make the best decisions with our resources. 

Since that original experience of struggling to find my way back to camp I have had the excellent opportunity of helping people find clarity and purpose as a professional personal development coach. 

Since 2005 I have been able to refine the process into a powerful coaching program I call “A Life Well Lived.” This program with my individually focused assistance will help you create a plan that will cover the foundational principles of personal finance, goal setting, proper prioritization of resources, and how your own unique gifts and talents play a big part in your personal plan.

For more information, and to arrange a free 20 minutes introductory consultation, please email me at chris@deserttoad.net or go to www.dtesuccess.com.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Kayaking the San Rafael River in Central Utah

2019 is turning out to be an excellent water year for southern Utah. Something we haven't had consistently for more than a decade. As a "river runner" that has been frustrating at times.

I've learned to pay closer attention to the daily water levels on many of the rivers and streams in Utah in order not to miss an opportunity to raft or kayak a stream that has enough water.

My favorite small river/stream to run lately is Muddy Creek in the San Rafael Swell region of central Utah. The significant snow pack this year has me very optimistic that there will be multiple opportunities to run it this year.

But so far, the water measurements have been too low to go down Muddy Creek. Interestingly though, the San Rafael River to the north has been running strong for a couple of weeks now. Usually running under 50 cubic feet per second (cfs) the San Rafael has been above 300 cfs consistently for the last few weeks.

So along with other family members, we took off for a kayak trip down the San Rafael on Saturday, May 11th anticipating a flow of around 400 cfs.

We camped at the Wedge Overlook on a chilly Friday night once the sun went down. The roads out to the "The Wedge" were wet from an earlier rain storm. They were a little muddy, but well maintained and in great condition.



On Saturday morning we packed up quickly and headed out to Fuller Bottom where we rigged our kayaks and a small (13ft bucket boat) oar powered raft.



Research indicates that a flow of 150 - 300 cfs is ideal. Personally, I think anything less than 200 cfs would be possible, but a lot of work.



We were happy to see a flow of approximately 430 cfs when we launched at 11:00am on Saturday.


The current was swift but very manageable. I didn't feel at any point in the trip the oar boat would have a problem and the kayaks easily navigated the river, even through the occasional braided channel.

Floating past the Wedge Overlook is approximately the half way point. The canyon features through The Wedge are simply stunning and reminded me a lot of the Yampa River through Dinosaur Nat'l Monument as well as parts of the Escalante region.



Including a 30min lunch stop, we spent 5 hours floating all the way to Swinging Bridge. There are a couple of spots upstream to take out that are easier, but I didn't see what the road conditions were like getting to those take out areas.


Taking out just under the bridge is excellent for access to vehicles, but it is swift water only and a bit of a challenge making the stop. Anyone with some experience kayaking can do it and then assist the ones with less experience.


If the water level is lower than 400 cfs, anticipate a longer trip than 5 hours. I've heard of others spending up to 8 hours on the river. So give yourself plenty of time to complete the float, and enjoy a really peaceful and scenic trip.