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Day 8

The Dirty Devil: Living Up to Its Name

With the ghost of Butch Cassidy

Friday, April 29   This morning, it was much warmer than previous mornings, and crossing the river actually felt refreshing. Amazing how one's outlook can change with a shift in the temperature. I think everyone was feeling the need to do his or her own thing. Sam and Kevin and Will had already been up into Robber's Roost, so they were headed off to Angel Point, albeit Will at a much more leisurely pace. Andy Z. would join Samantha and Kevin, I am sure hoping for some leftover lunch tidbits. The remainder of us headed for the infamous Roost, hoping to see the ghosts of Butch and Sundance. We stopped right before the crossing to the mouth of Robbers Roost and examined some of the few petroglyphs that any of us had seen on the trip. George and Ray, with the prospect of only one river crossing in the morning and one in the late afternoon (returning to camp), opted for the barefoot approach to river crossing. The bottom is so muddy and sandy that one does not have to worry about rocks.

The lower end of Robber's Roost had pretty good flowing water in it, although it was clear that more water had been flowing earlier in the week, since much of the sand was still wet. It is about a mile and a half from the mouth to the fork. For some reason, I decided to take the south fork. I think I just wanted to be alone for a while. The going was easy for a bit in the canyon bottom, but it was pretty sandy. I figured I would walk up to the point where the water started flowing again, but I never came to that spot, tiring after about another mile in the sand. I decided to have some lunch and head back. I had not taken a lot of photos that morning, I don't think I was in the mood. Maybe it was the thought of going back to all the attendant problems at home and work. I don't know. I think I felt like vacation was coming to an end. I get wound up for months over these trips, what will all the planning. Each day is very intense for me (after many many years, I can still remember every single night I have spent in the western backcountry), but I think there is also a letdown at trip's end. I was not even certain about where I would vacation this summer, highly unusual for me. My personal life was unsettled, and for me, that was a very big deal.

But enough bemusing for a sunny day in canyon country. I decided that 9 miles (round trip) of hiking would be enough for me today, so I headed back. I did a bit of a private ceremony after crossing the Dirty Devil for the last time, thanking the river gods for not sucking off any of my footwear or destroying any of my camera equipment. I knew that others of my party had not been so fortunate. Back in camp, Andy and Sue reported that they had gotten up into White Roost canyon, as had Will the previous day. Will reported that he had come down and scouted Beaver Box Canyon for the "official" exit route, but reported that there were a couple of places where it would be dicey for backpackers, and that hauling up packs on ropes would be a necessity. After hearing that report, we all opted for the longer but less dicey exit route in the morning.

That evening, there was the ceremonial passing of the keys to the hikers who would agree to get up early and run the car shuttle. Ray always volunteers, seeing how he claims he can't sleep. We have suggested on more than one occasion that sleep might be less elusive if he did not down a near-quart of regular (not decaffeinated) coffee before bed every night. He says it makes no difference, but we are pretty skeptical. Tonight's campfire conversation seemed to be a discussion of the foods most missed on backpacks, and what we were going to eat when we got out. Pizza, beer, and Mexican food seemed to be high on everyone's list. Will was fantasizing about Pepsi. Hey, whatever works.

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Roger A. Jenkins, 1988, 2001