Well, we all made it back safe and sound. Total miles traveled - 1695.
One of the many impressions gained from our travels in the Grand Staircase was just how vast the Monument really is. Many years ago when I first began to explore the area then known as the East Mojave Scenic Area (now the Mojave Preserve), I was impressed with how remote and how vast it was. Having later experienced the Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument, my perspective on vastness was expanded. Now that I have seen (at least a part of) the GSE, I can truly say that vastness has again been redefined. There were many occasions when we commented on just how large the area was that is included in and adjacent to the GSE. At the higher elevations it almost seemed you could see the curvature of the earth. Not really, of course, but the GSE is huge.
Another item that may be a hint of future trips to come is that even with almost two weeks to explore, it was not nearly enough and there are a great many other places there that I still need to visit. Among the many diverse and scenic areas that are adjacent to the GSE, the one that was a “must see” for us was the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, where we spent a couple of days. Lake Powell is the centerpiece there and it’s beauty is stunning. The best way that I can describe it is to say that it seems to be a cross between Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon. Some of our pictures below, will give a small glimpse of it’s grandeur.
Many thanks to the following:
1. Back Country Rangers, Bob Stevenson and Sue Morgan. I believe that one of the best ways to understand and appreciate a new area is to seek the guidance of people who know the area best. Bob and Sue endured multiple calls from me in an effort to give us the best shot at experiencing the GSE. Their help was invaluable and many thanks for indulging me.
2. In preparation for this trip, I contacted Wayne, W7WAC, a Ham who lives right next to the Southern Border of the GSE. Wayne owns both an IRLP node that we were allowed to use as well as one of the very best high level repeaters (10,000 feet) in that area. Wayne warmly welcomed us to Utah and made his facilities available to us. He also spread the word to his fellow hams that we would be visiting and to keep and “ear” open for us in the event of an emergency. Wayne exemplifies all that is good about Hams.
3. Many thanks to Chazz for posting pictures of our travels sent via Airmail. For many locations, no cell coverage existed and we used Airmail to get the “day’s pictures” to Chazz for posting here.
4. Many things go into making for a memorable trip and sometimes it is the unexpected that are the best. Before we left, I received a large box of custom wine glasses, complete with the OAUSA logo. Many thanks to Aaron (Traveltoad) for making this great addition to our camp gear possible. Unlike past efforts to bring glass wine containers, we managed to not break a single one on this trip. Thanks Aaron.
5. Lastly, and most importantly, each of the members of our group made for a great trip. Thanks Michael, Frank, Tom, Hector and Bob. I hope to do many more trips with each of you!
No trip report would be complete without a list of equipment standouts. Here are mine.
1. Cross Band Repeater. The trip to Hole in the Rock involved a hike from the plateau above Lake Powell all the way down to the Lake, a descent of about 800 feet through a very narrow rock slot. Our camp was about 5 miles away and there was no way that we could maintain radio contact with the other members of the group who were not making the hike, once we descended into the canyon. The solution was to park my vehicle at the top of the Hole in the Rock Trail and use the cross band repeater function in my Yaesu FT8800 to maintain constant communication with everyone back at camp. While it is not really my nature to needle those who missed the hike, the urge to do so turned out to be overwhelming.
2. APRS. The ability to track other members of the group proved valuable for at least three purposes. The first involved one of the group that joined the trip on the third day. As he came within range or our beacons, he was able to pinpoint our location and meet us in camp. The second involved an ability to track traveling members who were spread out in order to avoid some very heavy dusty conditions. The third involved family at home. Prior to departing, I set up the home computer, (through aprs.fi) to follow my progress, for the entire trip, so that everyone could know exactly where we were.
3. Airmail. Surprisingly, we were able to get some cell phone coverage at a couple of locations, but for the most part, we had no coverage. Anywhere we were, Airmail worked. Sending pictures and emails to family and friends meant we were never out of touch, no matter where we were!
4. Alternate power. While the jury is still out on the solar panel vs. the wind generator issue, the verdict is becoming clearer. We had a few days where there was enough wind to make power and if I had set up the WT on these days, there would have been more than enough power for the entire range of our electrical needs. Owing to the fact that I had not been able to complete the easy-set-up WT mount, I decided to put the two alternate power sources to a head to head competition at a later time.
The solar panel therefore received the most attention and it performed well. Two of our camp sites were two day events, which meant that the vehicles were not running for about 48 hours. During the day, the temps were in the mid 80s. With the 80 watt SP, I was able to meet the power needs of the fridge unit, the HF and VHF radios, and the computer and at the end of the day, the battery was fully charged. Interestingly, at peak power, (for about three hours), I was getting 5.6 amps. Admittedly, at night, the use of the radios (especially the HF rig) did take bite out of the battery and it would have been nice to have the WT on line. The SP will be a permanent addition to the equipment roster for these trips.
5. Tent heater. Temps for most nights were below freezing and there was more than one night where the mercury fell below 20° F. Getting ready for bed at night and getting up in the morning was made comfortable with the aid of the Coleman catalytic tent heater. Camp set-up was never complete without the Coleman.
Always reliable standouts:
2. Hot water showers
3. Nat. Geo. Topo!
4. Zarges boxes
5. Springbar tent
6. Butler Bags sleeping bag
Lower Calf creek Falls
Hole in the Rock
50 Mile Bench Road
Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.