Paddling the Lake – Part Two

5 July 2012 in Reviews, Trails/Hiking, Traveling


I wouldn’t say we slept well out in the open, but when we did awake we were greeted by the stars above us, a gentle breeze to rock our cradle of rock, and the whisper of water slowly, and timidly rolling ashore.

But when the horizon behind us began to glow it must have awoke our tiny little friends because soon swarms of the previously mention, mock mosquitos were buzzing around our heads, harmonizing at a surprisingly loud decibel. Again these bugs don’t bite, just annoy. I couldn’t believe how loud they were in unison. They sounded like a swarm of bees. Both Lindsay and I hid in our cocoons, covering our heads and hoping they’d forget we were there and go away. Every once and a while the breeze would tease us and they’d scatter only to regroup shortly there after.

I finally gave up and decided to take a dip in the lake to wake up and then greet the sun as it crested the red rock behind our camp. Soon Lindsay joined me and slowly the rest of camp awoke and wandered out of their hiding places. Then breakfast was on. Coffee, juice and melon first. Then eggs, fried potatoes, english muffins and chocolate donuts followed. We all ate a hearty breakfast and then began to breakdown camp.

I can’t say enough about how shocked and amazed I was by people’s willingness to chip in and help with everything. It certainly would have taken Dave, our guide, a lot longer to do it all alone, but everyone was more than willing to help with anything they could. The ladies formed a dish washing line and the men began hauling gear down to the shore for loading. Dave didn’t give orders or even ask, anytime some needed something to do they asked him. It was almost like some team building retreat, but we weren’t a group of accountants on a work retreat, we were people on vacation but in my opinion, often people are at their worst, but here we all were helping out. Providing manual labor while on vacation and on a trip we paid for. I don’t say this with any spite for Dave or his business. I honestly think it was part of what made the trip so great. But by no means do I wish to imply that anyone taking this trip would have to do the same, should they wish not to. As Dave would later tell us some people just are capable of helping out and others don’t want to. He’s fine either way it’ll just take him a little more time to do it all on his own.

So with the boat loaded we wandered over to the beach where our kayaks still sat and began a nice paddle back into the adjacent canyon called Labyrinth Canyon. It started in a nice open area, that at this time in the morning was still free of racing boats and jet skis. It was wide and the shores were lined with striking domes of sandstone and long waves of rock sinking into the shoreline. There were also a few along the waterline where one could escape the heat of direct sun. Most of the crew took advantage of this, but I was actually enjoying the warm touch of the sun that day. It felt good. I think when Lindsay’s at work I spend too much time indoors.

As the canyon stretched back the walls closed in. First enough to permit large boats, then enough to permit most jet skis and finally it became so narrow that nothing could squeeze through the gap besides our very narrow kayaks. Our paddle actually barely fit in spots. After threading this needle hole we shored up on the strip of sand that continued up and out of the water. This led back further into the slot. Initially there was a large open area full of bright green plants and when you spend too long in the desert these sights can cause you to rub your eyes and question your consciousness. Almost everything out here falls a spectrum of browns, reds and yellows. Excluding the sky, you don’t regularly see very many cool colors in the desert.

Biggest Grasshopper Ever!After the open area, and a sharp turn we entered a beautiful strip of slot canyon, narrow and full of reds and oranges it was probably the highlight of the trip. It alternated between shoulder width and arm span with the entire time and was roughly 50-100 feet deep. The walls wavered in and out so much so that in a minute or two the people directly in front of you would disappear as if out of thin air. As we hiked we came across what looked like a giant cricket and then a short while later we would see multiple giant grasshoppers. I’m not sure if they were grasshoppers, but they looked exactly like one, except they were almost four inches long. They were amazing to look at, but we didn’t get too close for fear they might attack.

Hiking in Labyrinth CanyonFrom what Dave told us before we turned around, this particular canyon goes on and on. He said he’s hiked for another hour or so and never found any end to it. So we all turned around and headed back to our kayaks. Then we paddled back to the boat. This time though the jet ski and speedboats were in full force. Most were polite enough to give us a brake (literally) and slowed down to reduce their wake, but a few blew right past us leaving everyone to ride out the storm of large waves in their small, already prone to tipping over, kayaks. Thankfully we all survived.

It was a great trip and I’d definitely do it again and recommend it to others. The good/bad part of this lake is it’s limited access when you don’t have some kind of watercraft. There’s just a few spots you can drive to, but most exploration requires a boat and if you want to go way up lake then a powerboat or a lot of time and energy in a kayak. Once you have a boat, a good guide is very helpful as well. There are endless nooks, crannies and canyons to explore, but you have to know where they are and what they hold. So thank you Dave and thank you Hidden Canyon Kayaks. We had an excellent time and we will definitely recommend you to anyone looking for a great time and a memorable experience.

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