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The Dirty Devil: Living Up to Its Name

Layover in No Man's

Wednesday, April 27   The planned itinerary was deteriorating further. No surprise here. I don't think I have ever lead a group sojourn where there were not some major excursions from the plan. I have the reputation of being iron-fisted about such matters, but really, the itinerary, other than the getting out west and getting home via commercial aircraft, whose flight crews seem to like to stick to a schedule, is really just a framework for a trip. A living document, if you will. I use them so that my own thoughts have some degree of organization, and I have some clue as to the amount of time it will take to get from Point A to Point B. Anyway, on this morning, The Plan was to layover at No Man's, and spend the day in a long day hike, and maybe get in a little nap along the way. Well, George, who was recovering from bunion surgery, and had apparently lied to his surgeon regarding the degree of difficulty of this trip, had decided he would declare a day of rest. For Will, most mornings are a day of rest, since we did not see him drag himself out of his tent until nearly 8:45 am. He reported having a bit of the old Montezuma's Revenge, and since we were not even south of the Mexican border, he had decided some major sleep was in order. Sam and Kevin had announced that after a short day hike, they were going to move up to the next camp (Angel Cove) and Will decided to join them. It fit perfectly with his philosophy of a leisurely approach to camp breaking.

The rest of us headed up No Man's. The nice thing about No Man's is the water, at least for the first couple of miles. After being in an environment where clean, clear water was at a premium, it was nice to be hiking along a flowing rivulet. Hardly could call it a stream, but you settle for what you can get it canyon country. Maybe a mile or so above the mouth, several of us were able to locate the exit that Kelsey marks in his book, and we all climbed several hundred feet above the canyon floor: high enough to get a glimpse of the snow-capped Henry Mountains. It is a tribute to the isolation of this country to know that the Henrys were the last mountain range in the Lower 48 to be "discovered" by the white man. I always feel the necessity of adding that last caveat. I am sure the Anasazi knew exactly where they were, and probably had a really neat legend to describe their creation. Anyway, while we all did the climb, the exit all the way to the canyon rim was not obvious, and no one seemed to have the energy to pursue the effort.

Back down on the canyon floor, many of us took the left fork of the canyon, in order to follow the water up further. We came across several pools. The lower two pools are quite nice. The third seemed to require more risk scrambling over mossy rock than anyone in this crew was willing to undertake. Thus, it was time to turn around. George, Ray, and a few others gathered for lunch in the shade of an overhang. Although the air was cool, sitting in the sun warmed one quickly. Just before this, I met the first "other people" of the trip: four guys from the Boston area were rafting the Dirty Devil from Hanksville to Lake Powell. They were a bit incredulous that we were actually hiking the river upstream. So were we. Back in camp, it was a lazy afternoon. With warm sun, and water nearby, even though this was not the best of campsites, life was still pretty darn good. We knew we had a short distance tomorrow, but many of us were a bit daunted by the prospect of attacking the river. The approach to dealing with this apprehension was to have a nice dinner and build a big campfire. Even though the canyon is pretty bereft of big trees, there was no shortage of driftwood at this particular spot. We all gave Andy Z. a hard time about being our traveling waste recycler on this trip. Andy had packed plenty of food, but despite his dimutive size, his stomach was a bottomless pit. ANY dinner leftovers that anyone had, Andy ALWAYS volunteered to eat up, just so we would not have to go to the trouble of burning or burying the food. I plan my meals pretty tightly, so I never have any leftovers, but Andy always agreed to have a taste or three any time I offered.

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Roger A. Jenkins, 1988, 2001