Dirty Devil River, Desert Explorer Update, Four Corners Fugitives

26 January 2008

Dirty Devil River Float-
I made a decision this week to float the Dirty Devil River earlier than I had originally planned. Since I am going to ride the White Rim in August, the plan now is to float solo at the end of May, over the last two weeks of the month. I had thought about floating in August, but was worried about the flow of water then. In May that should be less of a problem. I am giving myself 10 days to do it, but will allow two or three days extra in my itinerary in case I find canyons that must be explored. From all the information I have found on the river, much of it, in the upper reaches at least, seems to be a muddy stream. But I am sure there is plenty to see along the 90 or so miles of the trip from near Hanksville down to Hite. There are some really amazing canyons along the way, judging by the topography on the map. Of course I will carry a pack and hiking gear; I will likely carry a larger pack for an overnight or two if my research and map reconnaissance deem it necessary, and I will make sure they do.

Logistically the only hurdle to work out is a shuttle from Hite to the put-in above Hanksville. I will call Tag-A-Long Expeditions in Moab in the next week or so to see if they have any plans to be in the area at the end of May. It is probably too early for them to know their schedule for sure, but I will let them know that I am interested. Once I park my truck at Hite Marina, and get the ride to the put-in, I am free for the next couple of weeks to explore. I am really looking forward to the float, even though it may be challenging in terms of navigation- dragging the boat across sandbars and through shallows, in the heat of the summer no less, will be a big part of the float from the little I have read about it.

Desert Explorer Website-
I added three new pages to the Cedar Mesa Trip Guides page on the website this week. Kane Gulch Ranger Station to Toadie Canyon Loop; Green House Canyon, Grand Gulch, Pine Canyon, Step Canyon Loop; and Coyote Canyon to Shiek’s Canyon Loop are now online. I will revisit them in the coming weeks to edit and add to the content, and post another photo or two once I locate the images.

I did some editing of the Backpack Foods Page this week, added more content, the first recipe. This page will see more work in the near future as well- I will add at least a few more recipes this week. As with all my pages, I create them and add to them as time allows. My goal is to at least post introductions on the topics that I feel are necessary and important to desert backpacking and hiking. Then I can work on them when I have the time, 10 minutes here, a half hour there. I still have much work to do to get the site to a point that I feel makes it comprehensive. I am about half way to my ultimate goal. So keep checking back.

Four Corners Fugitives Search-
This week I went back to my notes about the Four Corners Fugitives and began work on Chapter Five. It should be ready for posting this week. If you are unfamiliar with this topic, I will offer a summary:

In late May of 1998 a water truck was stolen near Durango, Colorado. Three local men, Jason Wayne McVean, Alan Lamont Pilon, and Robert Matthew Mason were ultimately responsible for the crime. On 29 May the three were spotted in the truck and stopped by officer Dale Claxton. They opened fire on the officer, apparently with automatic weapons, killing him before he could exit his police cruiser. The three then sped off into the remote Cross Canyon area along the border of Utah and Colorado, but not without other incidents. Mason was eventually found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot on 04 June, 1998, 50 miles from where they abandoned their escape vehicle. Pilon was found in the same condition on 31 October, 1999, not two miles form the vehicle. McVean was finally found on 05 June, 2007, just miles from where the truck was abandoned. He had died of a self-inflicted gunshot, probably the very afternoon of his escape.

To read more about the Four Corners Fugitives and the largest manhunt in western history, visit www.DesertExplorer.us .

Backpacking Foods, White Rim Ride, Metal Matches

18 January 2008

This week I added a “Backpack Foods” page to my website, just a few paragraphs so far, but enough to solidify my ideas for myself and give others an idea of how I do it. To summarise the page, as an ultralight, or minimalist backpacker, I try to carry the least amount of everything- including packaging. And I make sure to have plenty of food with me on my long treks in the bush. I make my own backpacking meals from dehydrated foods; I purchase some of the ingredients at natural food stores, some I grow and dehydrate myself. This allows me to cater my meals to my taste, and make them as large or small as I desire, for light lunches and big dinners. Visit www.DesertExplorer.us and read some more about the process. I will be posting more on the topic, and some photos in the near future.

I made a call this week to Canyonlands National Park and talked with a ranger about the White Rim ride. I had hopes of doing the ride in May, but the entire month is filled, even for a single rider. The size of the group, in my case being solo, really has nothing to do with it. There are a limited number of campsites available each night. As the campsites fill, plans need to be amended to fit the available sites. In my case at the end of May, I would have had a 17 mile ride the first day, then a 40 mile ride the next. Since there are sites along the route that will allow for 20 miles or so of riding each day, which is what I will do, I am opting to reserve the exact campsites I want later in the summer- meaning in August. It will be nice and warm then and I should have a pretty quiet and isolated trip across the White Rim.

I recently found a site online that sells survival items, some at very reasonable prices- www.countycomm.com . They are a supplier for government contracts- for the military and the like. The thing that caught my eye was the cost of the FS104 Metal Match, also known as the Light My Fire Scout Model. This company has them on sale for 6 dollars each- a great deal. Act quickly though as there is no indication of when the sale will end. Of course there is a shipping and handling charge, 10 dollars I think, so buy 3 or 4 of them to make it cost effective. They have some very interesting items for sale, and some great prices- the LED flashlights for one dollar each for example. For more information on desert survival and survival items visit the Desert Explorer survival pages.

First Post- 12 January, 2008

12 January 2008

I have been meaning to do this for a long time now, as so many people have- the blog that is. Initially I had hoped to attach a blog to my website, embed it right in a page. But that did not happen. It does not appear to be too complex; many people do it. But for now, I will just post here. One day when I am feeling more patient and have some “free time” I will search for the instructions and complete that task. As for now, I spend enough time at my computer compiling my thoughts and experience from the desert into something readable to post on my website. That is my immediate goal- to fill out my website so that it fits the description that I have given it. The goal is a website that offers all the information you need to safely enjoy a visit to the canyons and rivers of southern Utah and the southwest. Future posts will contain more information in line with that goal. This post is merely a greeting, and somewhat of a test.

Please visit www.DesertExplorer.us to read more and to see what I have been doing, and plan to do.

As for plans, this summer is nearly scheduled. I will ride the White Rim, unsupported, pulling a Bob trailer with my gear- that will be in either May or August. In May I will spend a couple of weeks in the Escalante region, above the river, exploring the canyons there. I plan to rough it for a few of those days at least, working on primitive skills. In July I will float the San Juan River from Bluff to Mexican Hat with my family, 5 or 6 days, then we’ll camp for another week or so. In August I will float the Dirty Devil River from above Hanksville down to Hite (the marina, not the town- maybe some day that will happen). If time allows, I will head back to Cedar Mesa, one of my favorite places on Earth, for the 8th summer in a row. I need to take a look at the upper section of Grand Gulch, explore Water Canyon a bit more, hike through the last bit of Slickhorn Canyon, and hike Dripping Canyon.

There you have it. I will post more on the summer- coordination issues, schedules, gear and so on- as the plans work themselves out. Until then, remember to drink plenty of water.