Southwest 2021:
Day 13 - Lees Ferry


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Southwest 2021: [Day 1 - Missouri] [Day 2 - Kansas] [Day 3 - Kansas] [Day 4 - Ft. Collins] [Day 5 - Perry] [Day 6 - Salt Lake City] [Day 7 - Salt Lake City] [Day 8 - Salt Lake City] [Day 9 - Goblin Valley] [Day 10 - Torrey] [Day 11 - Kodachrome Basin] [Day 12 - Coral Pink Sand Dunes] [Day 13 - Lees Ferry] [Day 14 - Grand Canyon] [Day 15 - Grand Canyon] [Day 16 - Lyman Lake] [Day 17 - Carlsbad] [Day 18 - Davis Mountains] [Day 19 - Marathon] [Day 20 - Arlington] [Day 21 - Hot Springs] [Day 22 - Bowling Green] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

Sunday, February 28, 2021: The formerly full moon was getting ready to set before dawn. It was a balmy 17 degrees out, which is the warmest overnight weather we had enjoyed so far on this trip.
We were on our way before 8:00 AM, passing the dune buggies parked in our neighbors' campsites.
Here's a cool camping configuration in the older campsite. It had the distinctive colorful exterior of an Escape Campervan.
We passed several deer on the way out, including this pair who leapt across the road in front of us, then stopped to judge us as we drove by.
Buh-bye, sand dunes!
We took the road toward Kanab and noticed some very large birds of prey in a tree, with some crows nearby. Suddenly, a fight ensued and Tom correctly noted that there was probably a carcass nearby (not shown).
The drive to Kanab was pretty. This little pond wasn't frozen over, ....
... but this little waterfall was.
When we arrived in Kanab, the first thing of note we saw was ...
... the headquarters for Grand Canyon Expeditions.
We had just put down a deposit for our second river trip with them, after first running with them in 2006.
Kanab is a tourist town for people wanting to visit the west, so naturally, this is something you would expect to see in town.
It is also the home of Utah's Little Hollywood.
Many movies have been filmed nearby, and there was a series of displays featuring famous actors of long ago who had starred in films here.
A bison statue! Is it part of a set? Not that we could tell. Oh well.
We nearly wept with happiness when we learned that Kanab had fast food. We were thrilled to get a McDonald's breakfast to go.
Roadside America tipped us off that there was an oversized shopping cart in town. It's out in front of a local grocery store.
Here's a fun mural, advertising the Greatest Earth on Show.
Welcome to Arizona - The Ocho's thirteenth state!
In Fredonia, we happened across Wester River Expeditions, the company that we ran Cataract Canyon with two years earlier.
The scenery was pretty flat ...
... until we entered Kaibab National Forest.
We went to Le Fevre Overlook where this handy display helped us visualize the colors and attractions of the Grand Staircase, starting with pink cliffs (Bryce Canyon), grey cliffs (Zion Canyon), white cliffs (Coral Pink Sand Dunes), vermilion cliffs (Vermilion Cliffs, obviously), and chocolate cliffs (Navajo Mountain).
A helpful display showed all of the major attractions of the Grand Staircase, ...
... with each of them marked in a picture that matched what we were seeing. There was no way to photograph it to do it justice, so you'll just have to go there yourself.
Our next destination was Jacob Lake Inn, which was a stopping point on our 2006 river trip (and will be again next year).
Debbie looked at the beverage selection but decided that we still had plenty onboard.
We got some delicious snacks, but most importantly, we knew to buy a bag of their delicious homemade cookies (shown later).
As we left, we took this sad picture of the road to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was still closed for the winter so we weren't able to visit.
We continued through the forest, ...
... then suddenly, ...
... there were the Vermilion Cliffs in all their glory.
Here's the sign to prove it.
Here are some information signs too. Check out that fantastic metalwork on the top of each sign.
Straight ahead of us was the Colorado River running through Marble Canyon. You can barely tell that there's a canyon there, but that black squiggly line on the right in the distance is a good clue.
Meanwhile, the cliffs on our left were beautiful.
We spotted "HATCH" written on a building, ...
... and confirmed that it was Hatch River Expeditions. No, we haven't ever run with this company but Debbie's known about it since her first river trip in 1978.
We stopped by the Cliff Dwellers Stone House by the side of the road.
More pretty cliffs.
We were finally getting close enough to get glimpses of Marble Canyon ahead of us.
We stopped near Marble Canyon Lodge to take a few pictures.
Here's the Marble Canyon Trading Post.
Across the street was a sculpture commemorating river runner Karen Kazan, who died in 1994.
Just past the turnoff to Lees Ferry are ...
... the twin Navajo Bridges, ...
... one of our favorite stops in Arizona.
From here, we got our first glimpse of the Colorado River on this trip. Some lucky rafters were on the water heading downstream.
We also got to see some of the California condors who make their home here.
Perched on the bridge across from us was T7 (condor #847). According to condorspotter.com, he was hatched at San Diego Wild Animal Park in June 2016. His father and mother are condors #135 and #52.
Below us were two more condors. V5 is condor #885. He was hatched at World Center for Birds of Prey in May 2017. His father and mother are condors #282 and #166. We had seen his sister, L3 (#593), when we visited in November 2017.
Condor #844 is tagged as 44. She was hatched at World Center for Birds of Prey in June 2016. Her father and mother are condors #92 and #94. We made a note to visit the World Center for Birds of Prey and made it there two months later.
A fourth condor came flying by but we didn't get his/her tag number.
S/he encouraged all of the condors to go flying together and off they soared.
Debbie loves this river so much.
She will probably end up with a hundred photos of this same scene eventually.
Look at that gorgeous river.
arizona On the left is the Historic Navajo Bridge, built in 1929. It is now only for pedestrian use, but back in 1978 and 1980, Debbie's family was one of many that drove across this bridge to get from Page to Lees Ferry to start a river trip, prior to the new bridge being built.
On the right is the current Navajo Bridge, dedicated in 1995. This is the bridge that we used in 2006 to get to Lees Ferry. (And yes, these two captions are copied directly from our 2017 travelog when we were last here. So sue us.)
Here is a plaque dedicated to Lovie "Dee" Reiff (1913 - 1958), "who with all her heart dearly loved this canyon country."
This plaque was dedicated to Norman and Doris Nevills, who died in 1949. Fun fact we learned later when looking them up: Lovie "Dee" Reiff's widower married their daughter years later. The internet knows all.
We headed into Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, following the Vermilion Cliffs.
An informational sign likened the colorful bands of rock to a layer cake.
We passed the Cathedral Wash Trail, which is one of the few options for seeing the Colorado River downstream from Lees Ferry.
There were a couple of balanced rocks in this area, ...
... and the sign explained it all.
We spotted a guy out in the middle of nowhere. He appeared to be painting. Hmmm.
We arrived at Lees Ferry Campground, where we would be camping this evening.
It's a first-come-first-served campground, so we quickly claimed this campsight with its absolutely perfect view of Lees Ferry and the Colorado River. We paid our fee, marked our spot with a couple of colorful Chico bags, and headed off.
We used the RV dump, then filled our freshwater tank for the first time ever.
Then we drove to Lees Ferry boat launch, where some rafters were working on their setups. They didn't end up leaving on this day, so perhaps they were in training for the upcoming season.
We passed a colorful Escape Campervan when we pulled into the parking lot. We saw it again two days later at the Grand Canyon. That's the nice thing about each of the vans having unique decorations - you can tell when you see the same one again.
We went out for a hike and spotted more people painting. Eventually, we saw enough of them to realize that this was some sort of organized event. This building was the American Placer Corporation Office, built in 1911 when this was a mining area.
This plaque told about the history of John Lee and his wife, Emma, and their time at Lees Ferry (normally spelled without an apostrophe, but correctly using one here). We visited Emma's grave in Winslow three days later.
Didn't get the name of this building, unfortunately.
These buildings are the USGS Guesthouse (built 1950) and the Spencer Bunkhouse (built 1911).
Here are some old relics ...
... and a really cool plant.
We walked along the river for a bit, ...
... trying to reproduce a photo from Debbie's first time here.
We never did find the rocks in the foreground of this 1978 photo, but the rest is pretty close.
Tom took a picture of Debbie by the water, ...
... and recorded the sound of the river too.
We kept walking ...
... then had to choose between the river trail (which led to people) or the Spencer Trail which was deserted.
Sticking with the trip theme of "Go Where the People Aren't," we headed straight up the Spencer Trail.
It's an easy trail that climbs in elevation quickly, which was our favorite kind of trail.
The river views from up here were fantastic. This is the farthest upstream into Glen Canyon that we've seen from Lees Ferry.
Tom got a panorama view looking upstream ...
... and downstream ...
... and off to the north.
We took advantage of our perch up high and photographed things in the distance, such as our beloved RV, The Ocho, ...
... and the rafters at the boat launch.
We headed back down, stopping briefly for more pictures. Here is Debbie, ...
... and visible across the river is Lee's Backbone, an old road used in the 1800s by pioneers.
In the water below was the remains of the Spencer Steamboat, ...
... a boat built in 1912 to navigate the Colorado River, which was abandoned after just a few uses.
Here's the Spencer Boiler, built in 1910 and ultimately unsuccessful at helping to find gold.
Check out this little cutie. He furiously pumped his body up and down at us while we cooed at how adorable he was.
There was a painter in the parking lot when we returned to The Ocho.
Next, we went over to the boat launch to look around.
Debbie checked out the informational signs.
This one described the excitement and activities on Day Zero of a river rafting trip, ...
... and this one explained that Lees Ferry is considered Mile Zero and the dividing line between the upper and lower river basins of the Colorado River.
Cables stretch across the river here to the gauging station, which monitors the water flow to make sure the river's water is being properly shared between all of the states that rely on it.
A relatively new addition to Lees Ferry is this covered shelter, which looks perfect for waiting for your river trip to depart. "Back in my day, we had to wait in the sun for hours..."
There is also a covered notice board next to it with a calendar of boat launches (which appears to start on April 1), ...
... and a notice that the Havasu Canyon is currently off-limits due to the pandemic, by request of the Havasupai people and Grand Canyon National Park.
We drove over the Paria River, ...
... just as we did two days earlier in southern Utah.
We stopped at Paria Beach, where we got to see Paria Riffle up close. This is Mile One of a Grand Canyon river trip, and is a newbie's first exposure to a riffle, which is larger than a ripple and smaller than a rapid. We looked upstream ...
... and downstream, ...
... then walked upstream a bit to get a view looking back at the boat launch, barely visible a mile away.
Tom got a panorama photo for Debbie. He's nice that way.
By 2:30, we were back at our campsite, enjoying the scenery, sunshine, and temperatures that were finally warm enough to have the screen door open.
We also ate some of the delicious peanut butter cookies we bought at Jacob Lake Inn.
Best campsite ever. Sure, it had no electricity, sewer, or water hookups, but the solar panels kept us topped off and we had a working bathroom with running water just across the road, so it was pretty much perfect.
Since this was the first time we had filled the fresh water tank, Tom verified that none of the fittings leaked.
He also took this opportunity to fix a little problem with the bed. A screwhead holding a magnet was facing down and causing some scratches on the other side of the bed area when the bed was put together, so Tom reversed it. Still worked just as well, but the scratching was eliminated. A little wood putty when we got home took care of the scratched spot.
Here's the back of our campsite. There's the wonderful bathroom, the fantastic aluminum recycling trailer, the privacy fence between us and the next site (which we didn't need because the camp was about 25% full), and the friendly raven ...
... who liked to hang out in our tree and sing songs to potential mates.
To make the day even more perfect, we had our favorite freeze-dried spaghetti for dinner. So good.
The sun dropped below the Vermilion Cliffs just after 5:30 PM.
We played gin rummy again, bundled up in blankets because it gets cold quickly in the desert when the sun goes down.
We watched as the canyon walls around us started to lighten up ...
... as the formerly full moon rose above the cliffs across the river from us.
Debbie took photos of the moon with our amazing 40x point-and-shoot camera.
Tom was watching the viewscreen with her when she caught the split-second that a plane flew across the moon.
Magical.

Day 14 >


Southwest 2021: [Day 1 - Missouri] [Day 2 - Kansas] [Day 3 - Kansas] [Day 4 - Ft. Collins] [Day 5 - Perry] [Day 6 - Salt Lake City] [Day 7 - Salt Lake City] [Day 8 - Salt Lake City] [Day 9 - Goblin Valley] [Day 10 - Torrey] [Day 11 - Kodachrome Basin] [Day 12 - Coral Pink Sand Dunes] [Day 13 - Lees Ferry] [Day 14 - Grand Canyon] [Day 15 - Grand Canyon] [Day 16 - Lyman Lake] [Day 17 - Carlsbad] [Day 18 - Davis Mountains] [Day 19 - Marathon] [Day 20 - Arlington] [Day 21 - Hot Springs] [Day 22 - Bowling Green] [Day 23 - Heading Home]

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