Paddling Lake Powell - Part 1

There I was, floating on a million stars in a dark that wasn’t an absence of light but rather a blanketed cast of shadows and hues cascading over undulations of landscape and nuance.  Comforted by warmth made of a mixture of air and water so alike in temperature and feel that the slice of moment between them was like the moment of difference between breaths’ in and out.  In the middle of the summer in Arizona, the peacefulness of the late night hours, when the air is warm but absent of the beating sun, has always been a golden time.  Sitting on my board in the middle of Padre Bay on the 4th night of our trip to Lake Powell, in the still of midnight, on the stillest of water that brought the heavens to my side, was no different.

From the moment I first became hooked on Paddle Boarding, Lake Powell had been on my bucket list. This past summer everything lined up right with work and life to make it happen.  This was a family trip, packed with adventures, new horizons, realized dreams and expansive serenity.

 
 

My girlfriend, daughter and I loaded more gear and boards into/onto a Honda Civic that would be thought possible and started the 10 hour drive that would bring us through California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah, finally arriving at 4:00am in the morning at the Wahweap campground, our home base for the first phase of our adventure.  We’d spend the next 3 days camping the shores of the lake with plans from there to catch a boat ride out to Padre Bay to join a group of 20 who had rented 2 houseboats to celebrate a good friends 40th birthday.  That would be phase 2. 

The daytime temperatures peaked at 104 and with shade scarce, we spent most of our time swimming, paddling and finding good cliffs to jump off of...

 

...making time for a day trip to nearby Upper Antelope Canyon, another bucket list item mixed in for good measure. 

 The sculpted walls of Upper Antelope Canyon

The sculpted walls of Upper Antelope Canyon

spirit.JPG

On our last day at the campground we filled our Camelbacks, strapped down our gear for the day and headed out into the narrows south of Antelope Island.

 
 

Turning after a mile or two we entered the broad beginning of the water portion of Antelope Canyon, a finger canyon that gets increasingly narrow as it stretches miles back into the high, sculpted sandstone cliffs of the surrounding desert.  This was the day I felt dreams blur with reality, like the air and water a few nights later.  The allure of these narrowing slot canyons here at the lake had been calling to me like sirens for months, filling my imagination from memories of past trips here many years ago.

 
 Paddling corridors.

Paddling corridors.

 

Six miles in, as the canyon walls closed to just a few feet apart, we reached the water’s end and continued on foot, our sense of adventure high even while the sun was sinking lower and lower in the sky. 

 Water's end

Water's end

 Life

Life

Timing the return paddle perfectly to dusk, we watched the play of light transform the towering walls into a new spectacle, different than the one we'd seen on the way in.

 
 

That night, feeling elated and exhausted from the fullness of the day we readied for phase 2 of our trip getting ready to break camp, load back up the next morning and rendezvous with a boat to take us out to Padre Bay.  With my daughter out like a light, Nicki and I scooted together in the star filled nighttime to look over the pictures from the day, reliving the ecstasy of each captured moment and the memories that we’d just created.  It just felt like the perfect time to add to a perfect day, so I grabbed my guitar, sang her a song, got down on my knee and asked her to marry me.

 Angel.

Angel.

 Awe and wonder at what we see.

Awe and wonder at what we see.

And this was only half the adventure...