Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer 2016

There once was a Raven who told Eagle about how the world really began.
Editors’ note:  the sublimity life is a blog (and we always use lower case).  It is in no way attached to The Sublimity Life Foundation, which is a nonprofit run out of Las Vegas and a possible money-laundering site.  Google it if you don’t believe us.  We thought of the name first.

“Turning all this over in my mind, I started to imagine another me somewhere, sitting in a bar, nursing a whiskey, without a care in the world.  The more I thought about it, the more that other me became the real me, making this me here not real at all.”  Haruki Murakami

There is something peaceful about sitting in a port city bar and watching boats arrive and sail towards different adventures.  Small fishing boats venturing on a day trip, large fishing boats heading on extended work trips, small water taxis ferrying people to different destinations, summer sailboats slowly touring the local waters, large container ships on the move, and ferries taking passengers and cars to vacations and homes.  Everyone knows how some days seem long and others seem to pass by before we notice.  Days seem to sometimes defy the physics of time. Short days seem like an eternity and some month long trips seem to pass in the blink of an eye.  Near the midpoint of last summer, I sat in just such a peaceful bar in Prince Rupert thinking about the relativity of adventure time as I prepped for a 16-day sea kayak adventure that seemed to only last days.  The boats leaving on adventures from a single port, although varying in distance and length, seemed to represent the unknowns of an upcoming adventure.  Now as I write this, I sit in Northern California for Spring Break 2017 reading the recent plethora of news online and thinking about the snail’s pace time traveled over the last month.

Editors’ note:  This blog is in no way political, journalistic, a money laundering scheme, associated with any known campaign financiers, or fake. 

“Before you build a chicken run, get to know all you can about chickens and foxes.  Find out about the instincts of chickens and the stories of the fox.”  Sasa Stanisic

Haida Gwaii--Photo: David Brigg
Our first overnight trip of the water year was the Lower Owyhee River for spring break 2016.  This section was on a list of areas that conservation groups were pushing Obama to designate as a national monument.  It didn’t happen, but instead a lot of other areas received national monument status.  As usual on the Lower Owyhee, the scenery and the petroglyphs are the highlights.  The weather was surprisingly good for a spring break trip and only dropped to freezing on the last day.  On the drive home from Birch Creek the Land Cruiser got a flat tire and we found its spare was also flat.  Luckily we found a local rancher with an air compressor.  After the recent and annoying Bundy Family invasion of Eastern Oregon it was nice to see the sparsely populated high dessert again and see how nice the local ranchers are.  They simply pointed us to the barn, trusting us to turn on the air compressor, fill up the tire, and leave without disturbing the farm.

“Which was well and good until you considered how extremely limited are the opportunities for a commercial ear model, how abysmal the status and pay.”  Haruki Murakami

Somewhere during Spring Term we did a practice sea-kayaking trip for South African Dave’s birthday, which was some multiple of ten.  The old school boat crew showed up, in sea kayaks this time, and it was a blast.

Once school was out, Lacey and I took a week to meet her family for a beach trip on the coast of North Carolina.  We went on a few nice sea-kayaking trips in the bay and the house that her family had rented was in walking distance of the kayak rental shop.  It certainly helped that the local watering hole was half way between the two.  After this brief trip, Lacey had to return to summer school for her final term of education to reach her second bachelors degree.

Lacey has some admirers.  The observant observer will notice that this picture is not from North Carolina.  Instead it is a trip taken after Lacey finished her final summer term of school and we boated down the San Juan River.  Likely the observant observer will have noticed this detail when they saw the carefree manner that the recently graduated Lacey is holding her paddle after "more than four years" worth of school.  Congratulations on the degree Lacey!
Editors’ note:  An excellent story about riding in a Humvee down the sandy shores to witness “wild horses on the beach” in the middle of an epic thunder and wind storm has been eliminated due to word count restrictions.

“I can’t believe I’m pretend bowling with a dog on drugs.”  Chris Griffin

Next, a small group of us got lucky enough to join Laura Sol on a warm and relaxing trip down the Selway River at low boatable flows.  “Remember that trip where we accidentally set the fire proof blanket on fire?”  It is true, but a long story and yes, they can actually burn.  This trip had the least number of cameras and photos of any Selway trip I had ever been on.  It was a very experienced crew.  We just got to float and experience this great river and the water was actually warm enough for a bit of swimming.  Four of us headed home and the rest of the crew headed to an epic trip down the South Fork of the Salmon.

No pictures from the Selway so her is a typical Middle Fork Salmon scene.  Photo: Jerod Bartholomew
Next was a week-long Middle Fork Salmon adventure.  It just happened to coincide with my brother’s family trip to Yellowstone, so we camped together with his family for two nights on the drive to the river/yellowstone.  It was fun to show my young niece and nephew the roadside hot springs in Idaho and the put in for the Middle Fork of the Salmon.  Someday soon they will be old enough to join us on some Idaho river adventures.  I’m sure one day that will also include the Middle Fork.  It was great to again have my mom join us on the Middle Fork; if I remember correctly she has now been down the river four times.  Zach and Riley Duffens have been boating with our crew for years and joined us as teenagers for their first Middle Fork trip.  It was great to see how they have grown into excellent river rats.  The competition for campsites at the ranger center was very busy this particular time of the season.  We ended up choosing a short first day and stayed at Trail Hot Springs. This hot springs sits underwater at high flows but is exposed for late July flows.  It ended up being an awesome campsite with a hot springs right near our kitchen and we highly recommend it.   Another highlight was watching my sister and Michael Glass run the river in inner tubes for a short 3-mile day in the lower canyon. 

Author’s Note:  The editors of the sublimity life are very excited to see that I have efficiently transcribed an entire four month period into five short paragraphs.  The editors of this blog always strive for efficiency and hence some really important and entertaining details are forgotten and dropped due to word count, timelines, and the ever-looming beginning of the next season of adventure. 

“If I were a magician who could make things possible, then pictures could talk while we painted them.
If I were a magician who could make things possible, then houses could keep their promises.  And they would have to promise not to lose their roofs or go up in flames.  If I were a magician who could make things possible, the scars made in them by bullets holes would close up again over the years.”  Sasa Stanisic

On his flight up to BC last year, David Brigg saw The Jade Canoe in the Vancouver Airport, a giant sculpture created by Bill Reid that once adorned the Canadian currency.  Part of last year’s adventure was running the Nass River, and it scared S.A.Dave and I enough that this year our plan was to try our hand at sea kayaking and in the process we would learn more about the Haida people and the origins of the Jade Canoe’s story. 

Spirit of Haida Gwaii.  A sculpture by Bill Reid at Vancouver International Airport.
Near the end of July I drove the truck up to Prince Rupert with sea kayaks on the roof. I then caught a 6-hour ferry to The Islands Formerly Know as Queen Charlotte, to begin an adventure on Haida Gwaii.  The islands sit just south of the southern edge of the Alaskan Islands, and like many things in the area the maps now represent the correct names given by the Haida People.  Dave flew into meet me and we spent a few days getting a ranger talk, stopping at a local music festival, buying any last minute food supplies, and touring many of the drivable parts of the island.  In the process we visited the site of a large cedar tree that had been fallen by hand and hallowed out into a canoe by the Haida.  The canoe was abandoned part way through the process, likely because the tree split.  This canoe sits on top of a hill a long way from the nearest water source.  If it hadn’t split, after it was carved, it would have been drug through the forest by a large crew with ropes to the nearest water source.  The age of the canoe wasn’t clear, but it looked very old and demonstrated the important role that the cedar tree played for the people of the island and the BC coast.  A good book to read that includes some of this history is The Golden Spruce, which is a universally recognized classic in Canada.

It is hard to imagine the size of this tree.  You are looking at what would have been the tail of the boat.  Near where my arm is seems to be where the tree split and the boat failed.  Haida Gwaii--Photo: David Brigg
After a few days our adventure began.  The shuttle and guide company Moresby Explorers gave us a ride south to a campsite directly across from Rose Harbor on a Zodiak with a kayak rack.  Other kayakers joined us on the boat shuttle and got dropped off at different points for adventures that varied in difficulty and length.  I’ll say this now and I’m sure I’ll repeat it, all kayakers should spend some time kayaking in Haida Gwaii, flat water boaters can pick a level of adventure appropriate to their skills and even seasoned boaters will love the endless exploration possibilities. 

  On our shuttle from Moresby Explorers we were treated to a show of at least three Orca babies showing off and playing.  Even the two guide/drivers of the boat were a bit surprised that we only saw a single adult female.  Haida Gwaii--Photo: David Brig

From our drop off point, our first day’s adventure would be the most difficult paddle and one of the most rewarding of the trip.  We visited a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has the last standing historically relevant totem poles.  The paddle involved an open crossing of a few miles to Ninstints (which has many other local and European names if you google it).  The crossing is known to be foreboding.  It was very manageable on our way to the island, but bordered on the unnerving side on the way back to our camp as the wind and waves had picked up during our tour.  It was completely safe for us, but sea kayaking in open waters offers little room for error and is a mental challenge. South African Dave will happily show you a video of me looking much more nervous that I should be in class two waves.

 Mortuary Poles.  Ninstints --Photo: David Brigg
Ninstints is the perfect place to explain the backdrop to this sea kayaking adventure.  The history of habitation of Haida Gwaii goes back so far that it is unclear if the Haida story involving a very cunning Raven is the actual creation story or if the Western Explanation of an ice bridge is correct.  The small island of Ninstints has a cave with some of the earliest recorded signs of human habitation in the area and somewhat nearby Triquet Island has recently found some very ancient evidence of occupation. In addition Ninstints is a Watchman Site.  To visit it you need a permit from the Canadian Government for the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and then you also need to radio into the site about an hour before landing to meet a First Nation representative and guide called a Watchman.   The Watchmen serve as guides and are found at five of the old village sites in the park.  They derive their name from the three figures at the top of many of the totem poles that watch in three of the cardinal directions. A group of guided tourists from a motorized adventure joined us on our tour of the village.  Before we saw the village we received a quick history lesson from our watchman guide, Lance.  I really wish I had a video recording because he quickly and eloquently explained all the important details of colonization and the Haida experience.  But here is a summary:  The park was created when the local Haida people stood up to the logging companies.  The logging companies had logged all of the most accessible logs and where in the process of working their way south.  The last straw was some massive old growth on Lyell Island near an old village site that was logged in 1985.  The tribe elders blockaded the logging roads and where arrested creating a national news story.  It was mostly the elders who where arrested.  They had wanted to stand up to the government for years with its programs that took children to “residential” boarding schools, stole land, and outlawed the tribe’s ability to get together and celebrate with the potlatch.  On my journey I saw a lot of correlations with the recent protests at the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Haida’s stand.  Unlike Dakota, the Haida people won the battle and a national park was created that is run by the Haida in cooperation with the parks.  The stand against the logging companies gave the Haida a renewed sense of strength and unity that had previously been lost.  Next, Lance told us about the history of the totem poles and the site.  The Haida have a long history of carving cedar to create tools, canoes, houses, masks, totem poles, and a long list of other things.  These carvings and society changed when trading for furs with sailboats brought change and small pieces of iron.  The main furs where quickly wiped out, especially sea otters.  This lack of trade, small pox, and other factors lead to migration away from the southern village sites, especially at exposed sites such as Ninstints.  At one point the University of British Columbia came in and “saved” the totem poles by cutting many of the house frontal and totem poles into pieces with a chainsaw and shipping them back to Vancouver.  According to our guide the tradition would have been to allow the poles to naturally succumb to nature instead of “saving” them in a climate controlled storage at the University.  The mortuary poles that would have had a bent wood box at the top with the remains of an important elder where left.  For the most part what you see at the village site is still standing mortuary poles and the massive beams of long houses that have had the main front pole cut down and shipped back the Vancouver.  The university’s collection is very controversial with the tribe.  As a visitor, I both appreciated the wonderful collections I’ve seen in places such as Portland’s Art Museum and Prince Rupert’s Museum (which houses an excellent carved frog from a mortuary pole) as well as understand the desire of the tribe to have their history back on the island.

Quote from watchman Lance: “They tried to beat the Indian out of us, but it didn’t work.”

My journal notes for the trip are very detailed and for the purposes of this blog, I think a short description will suit the general reader best.  If you are interested in more details please email us and we’ll give you more details.

Day 1:  Rode the Zodiak south and stayed across from Rose Harbor.
Day 2:  Paddled to Ninstints.

Ninstints--Photo: David Brigg

One of the most sophisticated non-agrarian cultures to ever exist.  This beam would have helped support a long house. Ninstints--Photo: David Brigg
Day 3:  Perfect calm day paddling around Benjamin Point into Carpenter Bay and visited a bird-nesting island.  We also visited a site that also had a village but few remains can be seen.  Stayed at an awesome spot called Koyla Beach.
Day 4:  Long day and some big chop paddling to a location near Burnaby Narrows called Bag Harbor.  Saw lots of sea lions and some amazing sea life at the edges of the points and islands.
Day 5:  Didn’t move the tent, but did a six-mile excursion paddled through the Burnaby Narrows at high tide and low tide on the return.  This site is said to have the largest biodiversity out of any area in the world.  It was amazing and quite surprising that one of the coolest things is the crazy amount of crabs.
Day 6:  Paddled back through Burnaby Narrows one more time on the way to a camp in Juan Perez Sound.  Saw some crazy kelp beds and starfish on the sides of the Juan Perez Island.  Since the sea otters haven’t returned to the island yet, the sea urchins are crazy in places and are really wrecking havoc on the kelp beds that they eat.  Hopefully the sea otters will return soon.

Haida Gwaii
Day 7:  Paddled through Juan Perez sound to Bishop Island and had excellent calm water.  Bishop Island is a great campsite.

This photo is from somewhere on our trip.  Honestly I don't remember where.  I feel like this is an example of how crazily photogenic this area is.  Perfect picture and I have only a few ideas where it was taken.  Haida Gwaii--Photo: David Brigg
Day 8:  Stopped off at our second watchman site, Hotsprings Island, and enjoyed a warm soak.  The hot water hasn’t fully returned after an earthquake disrupted the flow, but we enjoyed the soak and setting.  Then we headed to Windy Bay, a nearby watchman site that allowed us to camp in a long house.  The long house was created during the standoff with the logging company.  The house is near Gale Creek, where the original logging controversy started.  When you see the approximately 800 year-old giant spruce tree at Windy Bay, you understand why the Haida had such a strong desire to create the park.   Windy Bay also has an amazing totem pole carved by Bill Reid that commemorates the protesters.  Justin Trudeau even helped by pulling a rope during its raising. 

One of Windy Bay's star attractions: a giant Spruce tree that adorns the cover of the park's guidebook.  I have read research that the sites of the first nation villages have the largest trees because of the extra fertilizer loads from things such as composted salmon remains.  Haida Gwaii--Photo: David Brigg
Day 9:  In the morning the waves were too big to head north to the outside of the island so we headed back south to pass the inside of the island and camp at Bischoff Island again.  The waves were annoying breaking at our backs.  As usual they were just class two but the consequences always seem like more.  We stopped to refill our water jugs at Gale Creek, the site of the logging stand off that created the park.  The trees are gone, but the area is rebuilding.  We saw more eagles and bears than anywhere else on the trip.  Did I mention that we saw at least one bear and bald eagle each day of our adventure, some of them so close that we talked to them to create awareness of our location?  It calmed down to no swell when we rounded the corner into the bay where something big nudged the back of my boat.  Still no idea what that was, but it scared me enough to make me giggle a lot and paddle really fast.
Day 10:  Toured back into De la Beche Sound which has some awesome glacially carved scenery on some of the higher peaks of our trip.  Saw a large group of dolphins with the binoculars swimming out of Darwin Sound.

Waterfall in De La Beche.  Dave is trying hard to make the water look warm.  Haida Gwaii

Haida Gwaii--Photo: David Brigg
Day 11:  Made it about half way up Darwin Sound on a lazy paddle.  Saw another large pod, this time it seemed to be porpoises jumping out of the water, but we couldn’t totally identify them.  Saw a couple of good breaches in the distance.
Day 12:  Paddled to our fourth watchman site, Tanu.  Bill Reid traced some of his roots back to Tanu and is buried nearby.  Some of the larger beams from the fallen long houses had nails in them speaking to the history of trade with Westerners.  Tanu is by far the largest village that we visited.  The islanders didn’t have much cultivation and are often considered the most sophisticated society to ever establish itself without farming. There is an area in the village where stinging needles were cultivated because they made the best fishing line.  It even had an area that had been used as an octopus trap during tidal changes.  This was our final watchman site; we decide to skip the last watchman site,  Skedans, since it can be a long exposed paddle.  We camped around the corner at a very picturesque site looking across Hecate Straight.

Tanu Haida Gwaii--Photo: David Brigg

Tanu.  An old long house pole has been lifting by a living tree.  Haida Gwaii--Photo: David Brigg
Day 13:  We woke up to wind in the wrong direction and decided to take a layover day.
Not a bad layover location.  Haida Gwaii--Photo: David Brigg
Day 14:  Left camp in much better wind conditions and paddled around Helmet Island, which is a large piece of glacially carved granite.  Then we headed up Dana Inlet, which is knee deep in starfish. 

Haida Gwaii--Photo: David Brigg
Day 15:  We had a nice paddle and decided to stop 5 miles short of the waiting car.  We could have paddled out and the scenery had definitely declined in the last stretch, but we had no good reason to end the trip a day early.  Louise Narrows is awesome and had some crazy varieties of sea anemones. 

Nearing the end.  Decorative garden float in tow.  Haida Gwaii
Day 16:  The last day actually had the worst wind.  Thankfully we had missed this sort of windstorm until now.  Bad weather is what this trip is known for and we really had perfect weather, the secret of August in British Columbia.  I had always meant to practice rolling a sea kayak, but I never really got it done before our trip.  I declined to try a practice roll on the first day of our trip.  If I had missed, it would be very psychologically destructive to the rest of the trip.  Instead we tried practice rolls at the take out and the sea kayaks flipped up easily.  Fish and chips and cold beer tasted very good back at the hotel.

Seriously, we waited till the end to try our rolls.  From years of whitewater experience we knew we could; but it was nice to see that we were correct.  Haida Gwaii
Editors’ note:  Though our author spends massive amounts of time in boats created from plastic this blog is in no way funded by or influenced by the oil industry.  In particular no grants for trips have yet been funded by the Koch Brothers. 

Author’s note:  Funding by the Koch Brothers for trips will certainly be accepted for future trips, but don’t plan on getting your money’s worth out of said funding.

Some spooky pictographs near Moab
Near the end of summer, Lacey finally finished OHSU earning her second bachelors degree.  To celebrate we did a road trip to Moab.  In the morning and the afternoon we would go on some very nice hikes.  In the heat of the day we hung out at the hotel pool. 

For one activity out of Moab we booked a one-day trip with a local rafting company down West Water Canyon on the Colorado River.  There are only 3 places in the world where the world’s oldest rock is exposed, the Grand Canyon, the Zambezi, and West Water Canyon.  The river was flowing 4000 cfs and apparently that is the optimal flow for the whitewater as we dropped into the deep old canyon.  The rapids are very similar to many of the enjoyable rapids in the Grand Canyon.  They contain big waves and some holes to skirt.  Skull is the largest rapid and requires a strong right to left move avoiding a gigantic hole.  Our guided paddle raft was on line and hardly got a splash.  After the canyon the winds picked up.  The guides spent a very long time getting the motor to start, but eventually we zoomed down to the take out.  Without the motor, West Water would be a very long day trip, but luckily it has some nice campsites that would be fun to enjoy in the future on a private trip.

Lacey is posing in front of the oldest exposed rock in the world on West Water Canyon.
Dinosaur Tracks.  Moab.

After a few more days in Moab visiting arches, canyons, and pictographs, we headed to the San Juan River and floated 27 miles from Sand Hills to Mexican Hat.  The river was unusually low at about 300 cfs but this stretch is doable year round.  We had an IK and a hard shell kayak, which were perfect for the low water.  Some of the other trips we saw had rafts and struggled some with the low water.  We spent 3 nights on the river and avoided the afternoon winds by launching early.  The canyon is quite scenic, but the Native American cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, and moki steps are the real highlight of a trip down the canyon.  The moki steps are ancient toeholds carved into the sandstone. Our last night had the largest windstorm.  From our camp we literally saw a commercial crew walking their boats downstream in the shallow waters since it was more efficient than rowing against the wind.  We had extra space at the nice campsite and invited the last group of boaters to go by in to share with us and take refuge from the night’s windstorm.

San Juan River.  The best panel I have ever seen.

San Juan River.  Notice the decorations on the roof.

Our heavy boats on the San Juan River.  The guide books recommend you carry water instead of filtering.  Who know that my kayak could hold food, a tent, about 4 gallons of water and a 6-pack and still float down class 2.  The bottle of tequila did tend to make it sink, but I brought it anyway.
From the San Juan we headed straight to the Rogue River to meet my family for one last trip before the school year began.  The Rogue has been pretty low at the end of summer the last few years making the fish ladder at Rainey Falls and the move at Blossom Bar difficult, but it is still worth a trip down the river.

Something happened in early November that we now refer to as The Event.  This was somehow related to our decision to make another drive over winter break to Big Bend National Park and run the Rio Grande river which forms a large part of the border between the US and Mexico.  If you’re bored, type directions into Google maps in the following order:  Portland to Rome Oregon and back, Portland to Selway River and back, Portland to Middle Fork Salmon and back, Portland to Prince Rupert and back, Portland to Moab to Grants Pass and back, and finally Portland to Terlingua Texas to Death Valley and back.  The spider web map that you have created will overrun the number of locations you can type into Google, add to about 150 continuous hours of driving approximately 9,500 miles, and will cover the year’s biggest road trips for the sublimity life crew.  We were on a final mission to save the federal government some tax money and help out with some free surveying for The Wall.

“The ferryman is dead, and the other dead people are surprised: what’s a ferryman doing underground?  He ought to have stayed in the lake as a ferryman should.” Sasa Stanisic

Like the start to any good road trip, the Ford Astrovan we were using was in the shop for a lot longer than we expected getting last minute repairs before the trip.  It was about to embark on a long adventure that would include rain, sun, snow, and ice.   As soon as the van was out of the shop and our final grades were entered for Fall Term, Niki and I drove for about two days to El Paso Texas, eating some damn good food along the way.  There we picked Lacey, Allen, Mike Ross, and Cecilia up at the airport and started driving 5 more hours to the edge of the park.  In the morning we picked the shuttle driver and drove 3 more hours including some fun dirt roads to the put in.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, it is a long ways from Portland Oregon to the Talley launch in Big Bend National Park, but the weather was 80 degrees while Portland and the nation were experiencing colder than average temperatures.  The river was flowing at about 500 cfs, which is actually a pretty good flow for the river.  Much of the water from upstream is captured and used for irrigation and the flow through the lower canyon usually comes from springs and local rain events.

We did 60 miles of the Rio Grande starting at the end of a dirt Road called Talley and getting picked up at the end of another lonely road in a place on the border called La Linda.  The river passed through 4 very unique limestone canyons in this stretch and they are called Mariscal Canyon, San Viciente Canyon, Hot Springs Canyon, and Boquillas Canyon.  The canyons are the highlights of the trip as the river cuts through deep vertical walls.  Between the canyons the walls recede but sometimes the river will give of distant views of Big Bend National Park and the large mountains across the border in Mexico.

After we drove to the river and inflated the cataraft, 3 inflatable kayaks, and one 2-man canoe we paddled the 5 miles to camp for our Christmas Eve celebration.  The only real rapids on the run happened in these first 5 miles.  They were fairly straightforward class two rapids in the inflatable kayaks and cataraft, but proved a good challenge for the canoe.  That night we spent Christmas Eve in at a wonderful camp in Mariscal Canyon.  The next day was near the entrance to San Viciente Canyon and the following day we stayed before the entrance to Hot Springs Canyon.  From there we floated to part of the National Park with road access called Rio Grande Village.  It was full of tourists and RVs which is a strange site coming out of the middle of nowhere.  We were able to fill our water jugs, grab some beer, and take a shower before continuing the second half of our trip.  Rio Grande Village is were Niki and I had launched 5 years earlier for a different Big Bend trip.  Then we headed into Boquillas Canyon stayed at the same campsite for two days.  The first day was on purpose giving us some needed rest.  The second day we loaded our boats to head downstream but the wind was too strong and we ended up only making it about 100 yards before calling it quits and staying another day.  The windy day forced a very long 20-mile day to ensure we rendezvoused with our shuttle driver on New Year’s Eve.  Don’t go do the Rio Grande for the rapids, do it for the amazing scenery and solitude when the rest of the country is cold and dark.  Do it to understand the scenery.  Do it as a secret undercover mission for the US government to survey a bigly wall.

Here is the lead up to the only rapid in Mariscal Canyon.  For our secret wall surveying mission, we decided that The Wall will need to be built at river level through this section.  River left will allow boaters to still scout the rapid.

Niki surveys the possible location of the wall and admires the entrance to Boquilles Canyon.  From this vantage point we decided the wall should crawl straight up the distant cliff on the left.  It would be an optimal location to add solar panels to the wall.  Just think, it would be the first wall in a national park that generated electricity. 

Obviously the wall should be on the left so it doesn't ruin this great campsite.  This picture has accidentally been transposed.  We are not camping on river right.

The secret survey mission hit a road bump with a day of epic wind.  Notice the drifts on the boats.

Hiding from the wind and resting from our tiresome work as Wall Building Surveyors.

Editors’ note:  The author of this blog has never accepted any cash contributions for the suggested location of the wall.  No member of the trip ever accepted contributions or free gear.  All details and receipts are transparently available by Goggling The Sublimity Life Foundation.  All pictures and suggestions for the location of the wall are simply designed to save surveyors time and the hardworking taxpayer’s money. 

Author’s note:  We are in no way trying to suggest who will pay for the wall.  Our secret survey mission was just as successful if it saved Mexico some money.

The ghost town of Terlingua near the exit to the park makes for a very fun New Year’s Eve.  None of us made it to midnight, but we did manage to hide a bottle of the local drink (Sotal) in someone’s mailbox and retrieve it later.  Then we visited the art community Martha on the way back to El Paso.  It turns out that the town of Martha pretty much closes for New Years, but lacey managed to sneak us into someone’s art gallery/house in exchange for a jig of tequila.  Next, Lacey and Cecilia flew home but we somehow convinced Mike Ross and Allen to join us on the very long drive home with stops in the Petrified Forest National Park and Death Valley National Park.  These parks are also good visits in the middle of a cold winter.  The January storm of 2017 started on our drive back home through California and Oregon. It was a long slow drive, but luckily I would only end up working one day the following week as Portland schools closed a total of six days due to the snow and ice.

Goodbye for now.  I appreciated our adventures along the Rio Grande’s deep canyons where theoretically a wall will someday be built.  Similarly I enjoyed the conversations I had with the First Nation Watchmen on Haida Gwaii learning about their revolt where the continued logging of the island acted as the final straw and generated the creation of the national park.  As always, travel gives you a much better understanding of the world we live in.  It is a privilege to travel, not a right, and we here at the sublimity life hope to continue our adventure and someday see all people out traveling the road of their free will and privilege.

"Only to discover: no one sitting at the opposite side of the table.  Staring at that chair where no one sat, I felt like a tiny child in a De Chirico painting, left behind all alone in a foreign country.  Of course, a tiny child I was not."  Haruki Murakami

Want to know more?  Here is the top of the once great Golden Spruce.  It stands no more.  It was brought down by a man with a chainsaw.  It might have been a protest against the footsteps of Colonialism, or it might have been the work of a man with no plan.  You to can find out by just googling and reading the classic: The Golden Spruce, A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed.  Haida Gwaii--Photo: David Brigg