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Day 8

The Dirty Devil: Living Up to Its Name

Climbin' out

Saturday, April 29   The plan was for the drivers to leave camp around 6 am, and the hikers around 8. Since Sam and Kevin were our fastest hikers, they had been picked to "accompany" Ray, but I silently wondered if they could keep up with him, nearly 30 years their senior. I figured I needed to get going a little earlier. I had been experiencing a bit of gout the entire trip, and it was getting to the point that I was starting to limp. I figured I might need a few extra minutes, so I pulled out at 7:20 am. Since we knew the general concept of how we were to find the exit point, I was full of confidence. Although Kelsey indicates that the non-Beaver Box exit route begins on the south side of a bend in the river (near 540,990 Easting, 4240,340 Northing), we could find no evidence of a route there. However, on the northeast side of the bend, near 540,980 Easting, 4240,870 Northing) there was a clear path back to the southwest over a dirt hill and up toward the slickrock benches. (Note that these are only estimated positions, and not actual ones taken with a GPS. However, they do provide a sense of the position of the start of the route.)

Once we climbed up on top of the bench, it was a long winding traverse back to the southwest, until we were really above where we had camped. There were cairns along some of the slickrock benches, to help with navigation. Some of them had been put up by Ray to help us. I stopped every so often to enjoy the spectacular setting in which we found ourselves. A cool, breezy morning, slabs of beautiful Navajo sandstone that seemed to go on forever, the backpackers picking their way on the steep parts, views back to Angel Point, the snow-capped peaks of the Henry Mountains to our west, and the Dirty Devil river canyon below us. Will caught up to me, and I said to him: "Take a good look. It will have to last you for another year." And in a way, it would have to last me even longer. Inside, I felt very much like the end of the first Terminator movie, when a pregnant Sarah Conner is pulling out of a gas station in Mexico into an obviously brewing thunderstorm, and the attendant tells her in broken English: "There is a storm coming in." Sarah gazes at the thunder heads building up out over the desert, and she says quietly, "I know."

The climb and the views were exhilarating, and in a way, I did not want it to end, but 3 hours or so after pulling out of camp, I was nearing the cars. We had survived another trip, and not a single one of us had been washed away. Sam and Kevin reported having a devil of a time keeping up with Ray. They also reported finding a note from our buddy John on the car, indicating that he had survived his exit with only a 30 foot slide. "Nothing broken, but plenty of bruises, scrapes and blood. Roger, your hikes are priceless." That's one way of putting it.

My thanks to Will, for loaning me his trip journal to re-enforce my memory, and to John and Russ, for helping to provide another perspective on a canyon country backpack.

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Roger A. Jenkins, 1988, 2001