Nicolai and I are nearly ready to go to the desert. Our Land Cruiser is being packed and prepared, our itinerary written, and we are excited for some time in the bush. We have been planning this trip… at least since we got back from the last one. The days are growing longer and the weather seems to be warming. As usual our plans include searching out rock art, looking at geology, an overnight backpack or two, and plenty of time enjoying the Utah landscape. There is a blog post covering our general plans already written.
One point of note for those traveling westward on I-70: we may be taking the long way ’round to Utah, depending on how well the road clearing in Glenwood Canyon is going. On Monday I-7o was closed through Glenwood Canyon due to a rock slide. We are keeping our fingers crossed that at least a lane or two will re-open by next Tuesday when we head over the mountains.
Even though the days are longer and warmer, we know the nights will still be cold. We have packed the 20 degree sleeping bags and plenty of fire wood. We have fires many of the nights we are out, and often in the morning too. To minimise our impact we carry a fire pan with us on every trip. It is our river fire pan, tucked away in its own bag on top of the truck. Its been years since we built a fire on the ground, and while some would argue that it is natural to scratch a hole in the ground, collect some rocks for a fire ring and light a fire, it’s nice to know that when the next person comes along they won’t know we were there. For more on minimising impact in the wilderness, see the Leave No Trace website.
The Dirty Devil River
In addition to our itinerary, and considering we will be in the Hanksville area, we are going to take a look at the put-in, and maybe the take-out at Sheep Springs, for the Dirty Devil. I have answered at least 15 emails in the last couple of months from people interested and/or planning to float it this year. Everyone asks about the river flow- for me it was around 10 CFS, quite low to be honest. I floated the last two weeks of May in 2008. I was dragging my boat for much of the first few days. Those planning to run it in April, and possibly into early May, will likely see flows closer to 100 CFS. A recent comment from Frank, who has run it a couple of times, says that the snow pack is close to 130% this year. So when it starts melting the flows should be pretty good- it should be an actual float for the most part, and there should be much less in-and-out of the boat. You can read all of the comments on the Dirty Devil on past blog posts, starting with my post-run blog.
Logistically the float is pretty straight-forward. The put-in is just outside Hanksville and the take-out is just up from Hite, down Sheep Springs Road. In between is all the fun. Kevin asked about taking out at Poison Springs Canyon. The road down the canyon to the river is well-maintained, and should not be a problem for most vehicles (I have seen mini-vans down there), although that could change at any time with enough moisture. Poison Springs Road takes you all the way down to the gauging station at the river, and continues across the river via ford to points north.
For more information on the float, visit the Desert Explorer Dirty Devil page. There are also links there to the various blog posts I have written about it.
For those of you floating it, have a great time. I have to say I am a bit jealous- it is my favorite float. I hope to do it again this year, although I am not sure when. Right now I am working on getting Robert up from Las Vegas to join me and Nicolai on the float, probably some time in May, after the flows drop off. That is how it fits into our schedule though, and any day on the river is a good one in my book.