Friday, August 25, 2017

The Never Ending Story

I'm out front of the lodge working, it's hot. A guy pulls up on a mostly street, a little bit dirt, bike. I'm pretty sure I know where this is going. He says "My friend is lying flat in the sand where he crashed." He gets off, puts his kickstand down, takes his helmet off, hangs it from his handlebars, and heads back down the driveway. A couple minutes later, towards the bottom of the driveway, I see a jeep pull up and drop somebody off. Further away in the distance I hear a motorcycle start up.

As the motorcycle comes up the driveway. I direct him to park it in the shade. He doesn't look well. The first guy comes walking up the driveway right after him. He's not a picture of health either.

I invite them both up on the porch to the shade and out of the sun. They're exhausted. The first guy says "That's a hard trail to get out here." Second guy says, "You did way better than I did." I give them both a beer and a water. At the same time "We're doing the TAT." (Trans America Trail).

One guy's map says they're going down Lockhart, the other one's doesn't. Shows a different route from Moab north. "This is the hardest part of the trail we've done so far." says one or the other. We're going through maps spread out on the dining room table. It looks like, kind of like what happened with the Hayduke Trail, two guys did the, or invented the TAT for motorcycle riders, had a falling out somewhere, and both came up with their own maps and such for what they thought the TAT should look like.

One of the riders started in New York, the other in North Carolina, and by chance they met at a motorcycle shop in Oklahoma somewhere getting their bikes worked on, both doing the TAT. I tell them they should use the North Carolina guy's maps showing them going north out of Moab because they will die on Lockhart Basin. There are no objections except they're too beat up and tired to go back over Hurrah and to town tonight. Frankly, but I've been out here awhile, and driven the road once or twice, but the current conditions of the road make it a freeway compared to years past.

I put them up at the female hogan next door so they can take showers. I put an air conditioner in the doorway on the floor, dropped a Navajo blanket from the roof to the air unit so the hot air is going out and the cool air staying in.

This is Thursday morning after a night of sleeping in an air conditioned Navajo hogan heading back to town and going north. Not down Lockhart.

Just a Day

Ten plus years out here. Still, not a day goes by I don't appreciate the quality of my life.

Tuesday Evening

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Beach: Kobae

The beach is growing and drying out in a few places. Kobae went down the trail to the river to check it out but there's a little creek still running at the bottom of the stairs between the beach so can't get Kobae out there yet. He ate some tamarisk and then headed back up to the lodge.

It's a Small Lockhart Basin World

I've got a couple errands to run in town today so I head out on the blue Kymco side by side. Barely a mile or so from the lodge I see a more street bike than dirt bike coming towards me. Really? I put my hand out for him to stop. I say "You know where you're going?" He says "Yes I know where I'm going." Then he pushes a button on his handlebars and his GPS lights up. "Monticello" he says. I say "The only way you can do that out here is to go down Lockhart Basin and you won't make it." He says "How do you know I won't make it." I say "I see the bike you're on, I saw you take your feet off the pegs driving through the gravel like you might have to put your foot down, I see the type of tires you have, the front one with little tread and fully inflated, and I know Lockhart Basin." He says "I have a new tire on the back." I say "You won't make it and probably nobody will try to go down it again until the weekend and that's when they'll find you, in four days."

It was silent. Like the birds were today during the eclipse. When the fridge shut off, there was no noise. Two rafts coming silently down the river, nobody talking, no animals, no birds, quiet, like right now. He's still staring at me, searching, and I'm not letting go of his eyes.

"I believe you."


For an 87% eclipse, this is as dark as it got.

Sunday Evening

Security Tortoise: Doing his job

Tuesday: Starship Enterprise

On Tuesday I hiked around the petrified remains of where the Starship Enterprise crashed so many years ago.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Kobae Goes Hiking (Well sort of)

Kobae doesn't seem to quite be ready to go hiking yet this year but with the aid of Elsie, hiking we are going. Out towards the gate, to visit guests on Hole 13, and back again.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Saturday Evening

Lesson Learned

I'm coming back from town with $300 worth of perishable groceries trying to get back as quick as possible. Then I come to the caravan of vehicles in front of me. It's so hard to pass then one at a time and it's rare for a whole convoy to pull over so one vehicle can go by and understandably so. The lead driver sees this little turn around spot by a climbing area called The Ice Cream Parlor and pulls in there does the loop, everybody follows him, and without them even slowing down minus the 20 seconds they did the mini loop I'm able to pass by everyone. Class act by the lead driver.

As I start up Hurrah Pass I realize when I passed them that they are loaded heavy and one jeep was carrying a trailer so they are going to be out here awhile. If they are going down Kane Creek Canyon and they are good drivers they might make it. If they're going down Lockhart Basin they'll be in big trouble. When I get to the lodge I'm unloading all the water and groceries as quick as possible hoping I don't see them come over Hurrah Pass which can only mean Lockhart Basin. As I get the last of the groceries in I see the lead vehicle coming over Hurrah. If I can get all the water jugs unloaded I might be able to get to the sand hill to see a slight challenge they'll have there and give me an idea as to if they have a chance for Lockhart or not.

I drop the last water jug on the porch and jump on a trials bike and head for the Sand Hill. The last four vehicles are going up.......slowly. They don't have a chance on Lockhart. I can see they are loaded down planning a multiple day event and it's unlikely they'll believe me when I tell them not to go down Lockhart. I can just see them getting in the canyon, the lead vehicles getting stuck, the every evening rain coming, no one able to turn around, and then it's all bad. I've seen it before.

I pass everyone and wait for the lead driver. I motion them over and everyone stops and gets out. I tell them it was a class act thing they did doing the short loop so I could pass and I'm right now going to try and make it up to them. I tell them I don't think they can make it down Lockhart and ask if anybody scouted the route first. They say they talked to the BLM that morning and they said it was passable and kind of boring. The BLM is responsible for a lot of trails and they can't know the condition of every trail after a rain or even if it did rain on that trail.

I suggest that they camp at the Wind Caves and give me their most expendable driver in case he doesn't make it and he can follow me into the canyon and I'll try and guide him through and then he can decide if they can make it. They agree. I tell them how to get to the Wind Caves and tell them I'm going to go feed critters while they set up and I'll come get the lead guy in 30 minutes.

An hour later myself and two of their vehicles head into Lockhart Canyon.

They spend Friday night at the Wind Caves. On Saturday they swing by to say thank you and good bye as they continue on their journey alternating it a bit so Lockhart Basin isn't included in it.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Wednesday Evening

Don't Go In The Bushes

In the late 1800s somewhere as I recall my grandfather Thomas Higginson was born. When he had his son, he named him Thomas Higginson Jr. My mom and dad put the same amount of time into thinking up a name for me so I'm the Third. When my son was born, it seemed that Thomas was working fine so far, didn't cause me any problems so my son is the Fourth. A few days ago Linda brought my 15 year old grandson down to visit for a few days. His name?

On Wednesday night I ask Tom if he'd like to go kayaking. He said yes. We haul a two seater down to the river, brave the mosquitoes and we're in the water. Once you're in the water they mostly leave you alone except for a stray mosquito here and there. It was nice in the river.
Four or five years ago Gary who took my place as President of Let's Play when I retired and I were kayaking one day and when we got in the river we got butchered by mosquitoes but once we got in the middle of the river there was nothing for miles. As we kayaked along there was this small green caterpillar that was stuck to my end of the kayak. He almost got washed over four or five times but kept fighting and trying to climb higher. I put him on my hand and lifted him to a dry part of the kayak. I told Gary we needed to pull over on the next island just for a minute. There was this little green caterpillar that had a great heart and I wanted to get him to dry land.

We landed on a sandbar that had some thick foliage 50 feet or so in. Not wanting him to be out in the open and vulnerable I headed over to the tamarisk and set him gently on a branch. It was instant. I heard the loud buzz and saw hundreds of mosquitoes taking off and heading for me. The little green caterpillar was probably dead instantly getting all his blood sucked out. I ran for the kayak where Gary was relaxing. I yelled "Go, go. Don't wait for me. Go. I'll swim and catch up." Gary said "What's the problem?" I said "Go." It was too late.

Day turned to night as the sky filled with thousands of mosquitoes. We couldn't breath without sucking some of them in. By the time I got in the kayak Gary's back was a solid mass of mosquitoes. As we paddled for the middle of the river, losing a pint of blood every ten or fifteen seconds, I took my paddle and threw water on Gary's back over and over. When we got to the middle of the river and the swarm died down and the sky got bright again there were hundreds of drowned mosquitoes floating around in the kayak. Lesson learned.

Five years later as Tom and I rounded the corner of my favorite island with a nice big sandbar on the end of it I suggested we take a break for a minute. We pulled up and I took a picture of Tom standing next to the kayak. When I next looked, he wasn't there. I turned around and he was walking into the tamarisk. I was afraid to yell for fear of waking up the horde. If only he doesn't touch something.

He touched something. There were hundreds of mosquitoes on us instantly. Tom was smacking them but by the time he'd kill one there'd be 30 more. It took some convincing him that escaping was our only option and we had to get in the river and to the middle. I was throwing water on his back and drowning them 20 at a paddle.

As we approached Base Camp beach I told him our strategy is to drag the kayak on shore and then run for our lives. As I was walking up the hill to the lodge Tom was a couple hundred feet in front of me and I could smell mosquito repellent being sprayed in the air.

When I moved here I was allergic to everything that had a bite, needle, or irritant of any sort. I've built up a lot of immunity over the years but I get too much of some of them and it's Benedryl time or ER. We must be related because here's Tom five minutes after we got back to the lodge.

Trans-America Trail

I'm next door working at Last Hurrah when the walkie goes off. He says his name is Brad and he's doing the Trans-America Trail. I get American Discovery Trail and Hayduke Trail folk quite a bit and I remember a few years ago getting some guys saying they were doing the Trans-America, on motorcycles. I tell him to get whatever he wants out of the fridge, hang out, I'm pumping water into the tanks and I'll be there shortly.

I get there and he's videoing. He's doing a documentary on the Trans-America Trail. He videos me for a couple minutes then we start talking. He's pretty stoked that Base Camp is here in the "middle of nowhere". I tell him about the Hayduke and Discovery trails people that come through here and it's good to know now there's a third for motorcycle riders across the whole country. The regular trail is 5,000 miles and with offshoots like the one he's on today, a lot more miles than that.

I ask him where he's going next and he says "Lockhart Basin". I look at his BMW and while it's a little bit of an off-road bike and he's just done 4,500 miles on it obviously he's a decent rider but it's weighed down like I've rarely seen a motorcycle with slightly off road tires. I had to go down there a couple weeks earlier and rescue some street bike guys and get them all turned around and I'm not relishing him going down there and then getting a call from a SAR (search and rescue) team asking me to go look for him. I have some work to finish and then I'll take him down. He thinks it's probably not necessary. He has traveled 4,500 miles in the last month. Many of them off road. But, he agrees.

We spend substantial time on this one obstacle and only then does it occur to me that it rained pretty good twice in the last week. Before we keep hitting out heads on the wall on this problem I should go see if there are more. The GoPro files were corrupted so I don't have the video but in short there were a couple more obstacles like the one we were doing and then two almost impossible ones even for me on a trials bike. I came back and told him he was going to die and I wasn't going any further we were wasting time and he turned around and spent the night at the lodge mutually defeated by Lockhart yet again.

I look forward to the documentary.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Beach: Gone Again

Got some rain up river somewhere.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday Night

There are two foxes sleeping on top of Kobae's house. When I walked over there I saw Kobae was outside also. He's ok, that's just food on his face from a late dinner on the porch. As for the porch, well it looks like it does every night.

The Beach

On Sunday after fighting my way through the tamarisk for a couple days and finally getting to the river I was pretty pumped the beach was back. Most people probably wondered why a little 4x6 foot of emerged sand was exciting. Because I knew what was coming. Here's the Friday beach.

Ringtail Sleeping

Thursday Evening

Thursday, August 3, 2017

On Guard

Now when I give the ringails a hot dog, even if they can't eat the second one yet, they sleep on it, lightly, knowing it's only a matter of time before a raccoon climbs up the pole to try and steal it. The ringtails have moved to the west end of the front porch. Earlier this year I had eleven gray foxes. Since the mountain lion was here I'd never seen more than eight. But last night I walked outside with an eight pack of hot dogs and eight gray foxes were sitting patiently in the parking lot waiting for theirs. As soon as I threw one to each of them three more ran down the hill and sat in front of the stairs. Still have eleven.

Wednesday Evening

The Disappearing Cucumber: Acts 1 & 2

Dinner for Kobae

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tuesday Evening Ride: Dripping Springs

I didn't know the Go Pro wasn't working until I got back so no video. Once I got back to where the road to the mines starts up I took a break. I was thinking about riding up to the mines which I have done before but there have been a few rock slides since burying the road and it would be way harder than it was last time. Since a couple evenings ago I had run into my own Jeep (parked), I assume my skills have depreciated somewhat and elected not to try it.

A Couple Pictures

I was loading so many videos I was using the WIFI at both Base Camp and Last Hurrah and using a computer at both places. When I walked outside to drive over to Last Hurrah I found this guy in the Base Camp rafters of the front porch. Sorry to wake you.

When I bought Last Hurrah I noticed there were always mouse traps on the breezeway of the upper house but never a dead mouse in them and there was supposedly rat poop on one of the outside tables. I'd fallen for this in the early days at Base Camp wondering why there was always rat poop at one place on the back porch but I never caught a rat. I slept out there one night and figured it out. I suspected the same here. I took my headlamp and looked up into the rafters. Sorry to wake you up kids.
Back at the lodge the smallest one of this group is always walking around whimpering whenever the food runs out. Up in the rafters though everyone seems content.