Nevada to Colorado: Part 7

From the Across Utah 2009 Trip Report

Day 43 – Getting Down
June 7th, 2009

Woke up to a very windy day with a cool temp. I pack up and go, but for the first mile or so I scout the western rim for a route up. I see a way that might work so I leave my gear for a side hike. After some trial and error, I am at the top and have a great view of The Loop of the Colorado River. Here the river makes two huge bends in succession. It travels almost 6 river miles to get 1 mile farther south. I am overlooking the smaller bend and through a crumbling wall I can see the river in the next bend as well. Good stuff.

Back with my gear, and in the main canyon, I come to the exit point. It’s not marked, but my basic notes get me into the correct drainage with a ladder of ledges which goes to the top.

From here I walked the ridge for miles with impressive views all around: Island in the Sky to the west, Needles Overlook to the east and ahead of me a ridge of towers and balanced rocks along the edge of Indian Creek Canyon. The ground is covered with red agate/flint.

I begin the descent to Indian Creek and realize very quickly that my notes are inadequate. I copy basic notes to my topos, but here the walls fall away several hundred feet and there is no obvious way down, so I could really use detailed waypoints.

I cannot find a way down past these huge orange domed rocks. I walked the edge for a bit without luck. Then I spot a crack between two of the house-sized rocks with a sand slide down. I get in and make my way down- barely able to squeeze through with my pack. Next I come to a steep chute with loose rocks to be descended. Now I’m in the main drainage and appear to be almost down when I come to a dryfall. I have to climb back up and find another way. Back up and around the point I find another way down to the final ridge. I appear to be cliffed out, but then I spot a gully which may work. As I get to the gully I see a tall cairn, so I know the chute will go. Soon I am at the bottom.
It’s a paradise at the bottom along Indian Creek. There’s a nice stream flowing through the red-walled canyon with cottonwoods along the banks. I take a long break and filter some water.

Too soon I have to leave Indian Creek and head up Rustler Canyon. At one point I hear a squeaking. I stop to investigate and spot a bird’s nest built into the wall next to me at eye level. There are 3 babies crying for their mother who I undoubtedly have scared away momentarily.

Farther up Rustler I come to a dryfall. With no apparent bypass route I take a closer look at the dryfall itself. I notice it’s possible to climb around to its mid-point and then possible to go right up the narrow chute at the top. It’s another tedious climb for one with a pack, but soon I’m on top of the obstacle.

I head farther up canyon where it opens up quite a bit. I make camp with a nice view of the colorful cliffs to the east as the sun goes down. After dinner I got funky and listened to some music. I’ve never done this on any of my big hikes, but I brought ear buds for my PDA this time just in case. It was a nice treat as the full moon came up and put on a light show with the scattered cloud. The playlist? Prince’s new Lotusflow3r (it’s his birthday after all!) and Icky Thump by the White Stripes. Get down!

13.1 miles
N 38.29758
W 109.72834

Original Comment

    dinkodunn said,
    June 12, 2009 at 12:26 am
    Not sure if you’re checking older posts – this day seemed appropriate to comment on. I had to wait until the very end for the Prince mention. I didn’t fare too well on the Prince song name game, but I did catch the diamonds and pearls reference from a few days ago. We miss you at 1K. Aside from your wit, charm, etc. Disney wanted to do a re-skin of the Narnia game. No sooner than I had created a Jamal voodoo doll – they completely changed the concept. Anyway, good luck on the final stretch! Try not to corner any injured/angry deer or stand on any thin ledges the last few days, huh? Andy
    P.S. I still don’t buy the eye story…

Day 44 – Lockhart Sprung

Fairly early in the morning I climb out of the canyon and to a 4×4 road. I follow this to another Jeep trail into Lockhart Canyon. Headed down I pass a small spring without stopping as I know there is more water ahead.

Farther along there are huge, wind-swept, orange dunes which almost reach the rim of the canyon. I reach the exit route and the second spring… and it is dry. I contemplate going back, but that would be over 3 hours round-trip even without gear. I still have water and there’s another spring, an hour ahead, so I decide to push on.

From here the route follows the rim of Lockhart with nice views down in. I’m up into the exit drainage and getting nervous about the next spring as I run low on water.

About a quarter mile before the spring I’m pleased to see a tiny pool of water followed by damp soil. Another 10 minutes or so and I’m at the official spring… and it is dry. Nothing more than a wet wall and increased vegetation. Now what?! It’s too far to go back. Or is it? The next water source is the river which I won’t get to until tomorrow afternoon. As I contemplate I go back to the one small pool. By slowly using my bandana, as a sponge, and draining into my bottle, I’m able to get half a liter. I run it through the filter and add it to my remaining half a liter. Oh why didn’t I learn my lesson from the Kaiparowits? Never mix water without testing first! The new water was bad! Salty from over evaporation. Now I’m hosed.

I really don’t want to make the now 5+ hour trip back to the first spring. It could be tainted too. I spot a place on the map a few hrs ahead I might be able to climb down to the Colorado. I push on sipping the salt water only when I must.

Luckily I was well hydrated for the first part of the day. But as the day winds down I find myself feeling the effects of no water- headache, dry mouth and fatigue.

I reach the spot where I will attempt to get to the river. Before I give it a go I have a Jell-O fruit cup and applesauce. These are my “heavy” foods which I have as a treat. Now I need them for their liquid content. So good- I basically drink each in a matter of seconds.

I begin down. Over the first ridge I spot four bighorn sheep- two parents and two kids. They see me and take off in a sprint perpendicular to my line of light. I mean these guys were fast. Galloping single file like race-horses. It was the highlight of the day.

Continuing down I notice a single cairn- yes a route down! But where? The cliffs fall away so quickly. I find away down one ledge at a time. I come to one spot where I really have to climb. I make sure and not break the golden rule of never go down something you cannot get back up. A little farther that rule is challenged again. I am cliffed out with only a 15 foot sketchy climb as the way down. But I need water! Still I can’t risk injury or getting stuck at this point. Besides it would be dark on my return ascent and I know I couldn’t do that climb in the dark with just a headlamp. Defeated- I climb back up and return to my gear more thirsty than ever.

It’s dark when I get back so I camped. Dinner without water to cook consisted of summer sausage and a clif bar and salt water to drink. Yum.

To end the miserable day, I had a persistent mosquito buzzing outside my tent. In the otherwise still night, his buzzing was so loud just inches from my head through the mesh. With my broken zipper I think it’s a matter of time before he finds his way in. I cannot sleep.

19.9 miles
N 38.38452
W 109.73211

Original Comments

    Daniel said,
    June 10, 2009 at 5:14 pm
    Oh .. that sucks. And having to wait a full day now to read about the outcome of your ordeal is kinda like watching TV where they cut to the commercials right when tension is highest. You should have thought of selling ad space on your blog :). Then again, maybe I’m the only reader by now – comments sure have been a bit thin lately?! If you’re reading this, c’mon, make yourself heard, let’s cheer Jamal to the finish line !!

    jarse said,
    June 10, 2009 at 9:53 pm
    Suck ass! But hey dude, you’ll be ok. Reminds me of the crazy climb when I broke the golden rule. Had no water or food the whole time and was in total exposure, but was also perfectly ok. You’ll be at the river before you know it. Otherwise, was thinking of you in Hong Kong yesterday. Stayed at a beautiful hotel with huge pieces of petrified wood outside, including a big petrified log bench. Looking forward to hearing about happy Phase II.

    uncle davo said,
    June 11, 2009 at 9:35 am
    Hang in there Jamal! Your in the “Short Rows” now. Love Ya Uncle Davo

Day 45 – Got Water?

I got up at 6am- definitely not my style. Without water I wanted to get a ways before it got hot. I couldn’t sleep anyway as that pesky mosquito was still buzzing in my ear. Also, now bees have taken a fascination with my water filter hanging beside my tent. Big bumblebees also buzzing just a few feet away. They were aggravated, fighting, trying to get to the water. One would latch on to another and drive it to the ground. Occasionally they would hit my tent in the scuffle. My nightmare. (I hate bees.)

I hurry and pack up and am walking by 6:45. I decided to push on instead of making another attempt at the cliffs to the river near camp. There is a spot 4 miles up I might be able to get to the river. Otherwise it will be almost 12 miles for sure before I get water. That’s a long ways sipping my remaining half liter of salt water. I put some orange energy gel into the water to help- but it does little to fool the taste buds.

In two hrs I make it to the canyon where I hope I have a shot at the river. I can see the river flowing below- it’s less than one mile away. Unfortunately the access canyon is walled in with 200-foot sheer cliffs. Deflated, I trudge on.

The scenery around this section is amazing, but it’s hard to enjoy when so dehydrated. The sun is out now and the situation is painful. This is the hardest it’s been in the 45 days. I take a break in a rare shady spot. My stomach cramps. I see a thunderhead moving in and decided to wait. Maybe I can catch water again. It arrives without rain, but at least cools down the day. I move on.

Finally I reach the point the 4×4 road turns into a canyon to get down off the high ridge. A rough, steep route takes me down the impressive canyon to the flatland far below. It takes a while, but I’m getting close now.

Another few miles of easy walking and I get to the ridge overlooking the Colorado. I find a way down and through the brush to WATER! I fill my filter, but I cannot wait for this slow process- I drink a liter straight from the river! I can feel the energy flow through my body and replenish. Yes!

I take a long break and cook a hot lunch and drink another 2 liters of water while there. It’s amazing how quickly the body can get rejuvinated once it gets water.

Moving again the next stretch was quite barren. I would hate to be here on a 100-degree day. I see another snake.

Finally I am at the rough road which climbs up to Hurrah Pass. It’s another engineering marvel clinging to the side of the cliff. On the way up a guy on an ATV passes me. Before even saying hello he says “How are you doing on water? Need some?”, Man- where was this guy earlier in the day!

At the top of the pass the view was astounding: the river flowing far below walled in by canyon country all around. I met a nice Moab couple there who gave me more water.

Going down the other side the views were equally impressive into Kane Springs Canyon. About half way down I made camp among some cool rocks. Mr. Shadow was there- he was happy to have water again too!

20.2 miles to N 38.46976 W 109.62297

Original Comments

    syleeya said,
    June 11, 2009 at 10:53 am
    You’re on the homestretch, Jamal! (yeehaw!) I’m so glad you finally came across water before you were too dehydrated to move on! And sounds like ATV dudes aren’t all bad. 😉 So proud of you, Jamal! A refrigerator full of iced cold Diet Cokes await you.

    iromania said,
    June 11, 2009 at 11:04 am
    Jamal, I’d rather have the rain, rising rivers and flash floods than no water! It looks like Celia, Hanzel and I picked the right leg of the trip to join you after all. 😀 Enjoy the last few days on the trail. I’m sending a preemptive CONGRATULATIONS to you in UT. ~Iris!

    Ling said,
    June 11, 2009 at 11:24 am
    Dude, Pink’s has a dog with your name on it!!! I think we should petition to get a dog made for you. It would most definitely be covered in onions and tomatoes!!! 8^) I’m only imagining how it is out there, and I can’t even think what life would be like for 7 weeks. You are a superhero.
    Get back here so we can welcome the summer and celebrate your return to civilization!

    haro1735 said,
    June 11, 2009 at 12:06 pm
    I say get up extra early and enjoy as much of the day as you can while you’re out there. You know you’re gonna miss the sand, the sun and that delicious filtered water when you get back. Take care of yourself during the final push and don’t provoke any killer cows ( I hear they don’t like their picture taken). To modify what Alex always says ” In order to start a new hike, this one has to end ”
    btw, you got it all wrong, the bees were only trying to add tiny pieces of tomato to your water supply.

    jarse said,
    June 11, 2009 at 1:21 pm
    Glad to hear you and Mr.Shadow pulled through.

    katzkount said,
    June 11, 2009 at 1:50 pm
    What are you a wimp? “Oh, poor me, I have no water, I’m so weak…” It’s not like you’re stuck between a rock and an even harder rock and have to cut off your arm to get out of there like your hero. Suck it up!
    And what is this? At the bottom of your post it says you’ve gone 20.2 miles. This is on day forty-five. It took you forty-five frakkin’ days to go 20.2 miles? That’s less than a half mile per day! Are you tracking an inchworm or something? My dad can walk faster than that! Get a move on! You’ve got four days left to go the other 579.8+ miles.
    I’ve already beaten all of your high scores on the DS. Make it back so you can try to reclaim your throne.

    Daniel said,
    June 11, 2009 at 2:47 pm
    After the parched throat for a day, I think you have earned a quick visit to for a little snack and libation before you continue and dash up the snow-covered La Sal mountains to finish your hike 🙂

    Daniel said,
    June 11, 2009 at 3:00 pm
    And one more URL: live view of Jamal’s weather: … off the Colorado, about 20mi away from his posit today

    Larry said,
    June 11, 2009 at 3:47 pm
    Hey Daniel, Have them turn that camera around so we can see how much snow Jamal is going to have to get through to get to the top of Mt. Peale.
    And Katzkount….are you sure your name isn’t Can’t-kount. Geeez, he past 600 miles several days ago. Are you sure you didn’t go to UCLA instead of the good school!! 🙂

    Ling said,
    June 11, 2009 at 11:03 pm
    You better get back to your pad soon! I’m gonna eat all your food and I just found an unopened box of taquitos in your freezer!

Day 46 – Broke, But Not Beat

It rained again during the night, but I woke up to sunshine. My body is sore still. It’s hard to believe, but even after 45 days I’m still sore each day. The last three days have been particularly difficult with the route-finding, the climbs and lack of water. My body is pretty broken down: aches, cuts all over and a general lack of energy- I bet I’ve lost 20 pounds. Also, I think as I shifted into the final week of my journey I somewhat mentally checked out. I’ve been thinking much more about life after my hike: work, my family, my friends, my cats, eating real food, etc. Possibly because of this, the hike has become tougher.

I am not giving up on my goal of getting across UT, however because of my condition, and a nasty weather forecast, I am going to change my route a bit so that I can stay focused and possibly get done one or two days sooner. No more Behind the Rocks or Gold Basin.

It’s not just my body, but my gear is pretty broken down as well. Just yesterday I broke a stay on my backpack. This is one of two metal frames that give it support. I temporarily fixed it with a strip of plastic and duct tape. More broken stuff:

New Tent- zipper busted, holes in floor.
Trekking Poles- baskets broken and tips all but worn down.

Solar Panel- stopped powering larger electronic items.

Water Filter- broken seal, now leaks.

Camera Bag- broken snaps.

First Camera- dead. Now using back-up.

Shoes- first pair destroyed. 2nd pair, ok but soles wearing thin.

Sunglasses: lost ear piece, major scratches.

45 days in the wild can be tough, but I will make it- all duct tapped together if need be!

I headed up Kane Spring Canyon. It would rain, then be sunny, then rain again. Had lunch near Trough Spring Canyon. Then it rained hard for a bit. I took cover under a large boulder. Afterwards caramel-colored puddles were everywhere.

Farther up the canyon the water began to flow. I found myself constantly crossing the small crystal-clear creek.

The upper section of Kane Cr. was really nice. There was even a section of narrows. The jeep trail climbed high above this section. The jeep trail here was extreme. There was a stripped blazer broken down on the road, and another indistinguishable vehicle crumpled on the canyon floor. Not good.

I got an awesome campsite next to the creek as it flowed across red sandstone in a series of pools. I nick-named one the jacuzzi and plan to jump in tomorrow morning. After dinner I was completely out of food. Luckily my next cache is just a few hrs away tomorrow near the highway.

18.8 miles to N 38.38139 W 109.47911

Original Comment

    melaneenelson said,
    June 12, 2009 at 12:28 pm
    Real jacuzzis (and other fun things, surprises, etc.) await you back here in CA, although I am sure none can compare in beauty to the one which you have nicknamed.
    It sounds like, especially with everything breaking, cutting the trip short may be safer. I hope that the things you would be skipping are not too much of a loss– of course, if you are in too much discomfort to enjoy their beauty, therein lies the answer.
    Regardless of the path you take, you are going to make it, which is astounding, and you have been an inspiration to us all. I don’t know anyone who has ever done anything like what you do! I am sure there are many people awaiting your return, who would all like to present you with real, home-cooked food, to accompany what is surely going to be an incredible slide show. Can’t wait to see you again, and all the pictures, and hear even more than you have been able to impart here!

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