American Frontiers PLIADOIBLMUSDA FSGeography Action from NGSHondaColemanCoca-Cola
Search
About
Dispatches
The Trek


The Trek

The Teams
Read bios about the team members and see photos.

Team Member Journals
Read online journals filled out by members of both Trek teams. Search by date, place and more.

Interactive and Downloadable Maps

Related Events

Trek Itinerary

Media Center



Exhibits
Lessons
Geo Action

PLIC Museum
Home

 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jan Nesset
Friday, September 6
Just Looking To Have Some Fun – Be Dammed!

Who in their right mind would name pioneering Grand Canyon boats “What Next”, “Don’t Know” and “Who Cares”? Buzz Hatch and friends, that’s who. To my mind, they’re great names conjured up by early funhawgs who had their priorities in a row.

Hatch Expeditions has been running rivers for 68 years based on the same ideal that Buzz Hatch and his fellow adventurers had when they first hit the Colorado River with those now famous boats: “Just looking to have some fun.” Sons Ted and Don kept the faith but split the business between the Grand Canyon and the Green and Yampa rivers, with Ted taking the Grand Canyon. Don passed away five years ago.
Spreading the Grand Canyon word to us today is Sarah Hatch. A number of years ago while contemplating her future and whether law school was in it, Sarah went on a river trip. As these river trips sometime go, romance lands in the middle. Now married into the Hatch family and the business, Sarah daily lives her future. She hopes so anyway.
Hatch Expeditions runs solely motorized trips down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. That may be trouble depending on how the Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP) is ultimately decided. The National Park Service hasn’t revamped the plan in 20 years, Sarah said, and it is “long overdue.”

If the CRMP decides the Grand Canyon is wilderness, and it is designated as Wilderness (big “W”), motorized use is incompatible with how the Wilderness laws are written.

Hatch’s viewpoint, according to Sarah, is that motorized use has “historical value,” which is a good argument to make. Furthermore, Wilderness values state that a wilderness has to be untrammeled and has no trails or passageways. “We believe the river corridor is ingress and egress to the canyon,” she said.
Motor noise has already been address, said Sarah, although motors not motor noise is a Wilderness issue. Hatch has switched over to 4-stroke motors -- which I know from my experience on a Hatch raft are quiet – and Hatch is researching electric motors.

Hatch shuttles commercial customers with a helicopter which customers say they prefer over a boat ride across Lake Mead. That too may be lost depending on how the CRMP is decided.

I struggle to understand the issues. The Grand Canyon is a marvelous place. From what I saw on my “fly by” from rim-to-rim and two days on the Colorado River, under the current management plan the canyon appears to be properly used. I saw clean camping beaches, interacted with conscientious river guides, hiked rugged but clear trails, and had a marvelous time. But what can my short visit really show?
Maybe enough, if I am at all representative of the average user. I’d prefer to kayak the Grand Canyon with a private permit but on this Journey I had the opportunity to share a sample of what the average user would get on the Grand Canyon. Furthermore, I’m thinking about public lands and how they are used.

According to Hatch, who uses statistics shared by all Grand Canyon managers and concessionaires, 70 percent of all Colorado River runners go on a commercial trip. In fact, the number may be a smidgeon closer to 3 out of every 4 people take a motorized trip. Motorized trips accommodate more types of people, from physically challenged people to those who can’t strike a match. Commercial river trips allow people to see the Grand Canyon from the most exciting viewpoint. Motorized trips allow for a zippier trip down the river, and subsequently more people to see the Grand Canyon from the river.
From the private standpoint, if I had the ability to get up and go on a whim I could take advantage of the cancellation system and go on a private trip three times a year. Sarah said there are roughly 30 percent cancellations of private trips each year. That’s great, but few of us have the luxury of grabbing a cancellation. Rather, we are locked into the permit system which is most friendly to people who are prone to waiting for his or her number to come up. The average wait for a permit to come up is around 10 years. I’d be in my fifties, so I’m whining not complaining.

Allen Malmquist is a lucky guy. He has retired to something he loves. He’s the resident historian at Lee’s Ferry now employed by the National Park Service.
Allen met us at Navajo Bridge where he began his time with us talking about the one thing that made travel across Lee’s Ferry obsolete. In 1928 Navajo Bridge was built. If you ever visit this area you’ll discover why the bridge is important. Other than Lee’s Ferry or the ability to fly, there was no way to cross the Colorado River for hundreds of miles. The Grand Canyon aptly describes the obstacle.
There are plenty of reasons why people wanted to get across the canyon, but one example is the city of Mesa, Arizona. It was settled by people who crossed this bridge on wagon trains.
Until the bridge, land-crossers were limited to Lee’s Ferry, which is a cable ferry crossing named after its first ferryman, John D. Lee.
On a placard near Lee’s Ferry is written: “For 55 years, a variety of boats transported settlers, missionaries, miners, traders, Indians and tourists across the river at Lee’s Ferry. Boats capsized and people drowned, but the service continued until 1928.”
After Lee came a series of ferrymen and their families, namely John Daley, Warren M. Johnson and Jim “James” Emmett. Daley was actually a fugitive who came here to hide out but he was caught and executed for his part in a massacre 20 years earlier.
The latter were Mormons who raised large families on a piece of nearby land called Lonely Dell Ranch. It was an “amazing oasis” for people coming across the desert, said Allen.
Standing on the property is an old schoolhouse that was built from lumber salvaged from an old wooden barge. The main gunwales are positioned high in the walls of the schoolhouse. It would be a challenge to try to find tongue-and-groove construction in another schoolhouse anywhere in the country.

Allen opened the old fort that was used to protect Lee’s Ferry from Indian or other marauders. Lee’s Ferry was never attacked but the building still stands. One a brick of the fort is scribed the name “J.HISLOP”. Allen says Hislop surveyed the area in 1889. “He never saw a boulder he didn’t think wouldn’t look good without his name on it,” mused Allen.

Lee’s Ferry is where the Grand Canyon ends and Glen Canyon begins. That means we were leaving the Grand Canyon, with our eyes set upstream. The trekkers and Wayne, our National Geographic videographer, were slated for a boat ride to Glen Canyon Dam where we’d go on a dam tour with a dam tour guide.

Glen Canyon was named by John Wesley Powell for the numerous glens in the canyon and not somebody named Glen. In 1869 Powell wrote in his journal: “…we have a curious ensemble of wonderful features – carved walls, royal arches, glens, alcove gulches, mounds and monuments. We decide to call it Glen Canyon.”

Glen Canyon is a mood changer. For 15 miles we motored up through the canyon where 1,000-feet high Navajo sandstone walls stood sentinel on left and right. Gleened smooth by so many years of wind, the canyon walls stand tall and straight, shining, over the clear Colorado River below.
The first Indians to walk to its edge must have been bewildered. I think that stories of big medicine are built around places like Glen Canyon. I felt better just being in it. For me it was good medicine.

Bureau of Reclamation Dam Manager Ken Rice met us below the awesome Glen Canyon Dam. He said he may not be the best dam tour guide we could have had but he was the most expensive. He led our group with humor up 726 feet through the belly of the dam to the topside visitor center where a local reporter awaited to get our stories and some photographs.
With our support team with us, we entered again the belly of the dam for the tour. We saw the control room and where the cement dam was “keyed” into the canyon walls.
I don’t really know what to say about receiving a tour of this magnitude in a dam of such a gargantuan size other than Wow! Wow! is appropriate.
But there is a lot to know. The purpose of the dam is primarily for irrigation and flood control. It allows the Upper Basin States of Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah to get a share of the Colorado River, and deliver entitled shares of water to the Lower Basin States of Arizona, California and Nevada. Water from the Colorado River irrigates approximately 2 million acres of land and helps grow 25 percent of the nation’s food. Mexico also gets some of the water. Subsequent to storage and irrigation is the 4.5 billion kilowatt-hours of power it produces annually.
The first of the 4,901,000 cubic yards of concrete was poured June 17, 1960 and the last of it September 1963. The dam may be managed as a timeless entity but silt will likely fill the dam in 700 to 1,000 years. Something is likely to change with the dam in that time to deal with the silt. What will change is uncertain.
Walking through the corridors of the dam I am struck by how much water flows through the channels built next to the walkways. It’s a natural occurrence in all dams, Rice said, and nothing to be concerned about. The seepage is closely monitored. We are informed that about 2,600 gallons a minute seep through the dam but that’s just a tiny amount compared to the size of the dam.
We are asked to forget how we navigated through the dam. September 11, 2001 has changed a lot of what the public gets to know about the dam. There are several pieces of information taken away from the public since then. Standing near the knobs and computers that control all that happens with the dam, I am grateful for the circuitous route we took to get to this most important of dam places. I could never get out of there alone, and for the first time I am grateful for the privileges our team receives to slip into special places and to bypass permit systems. Tours no longer come close to the control center.
But we were there, and I am certain not a one of us could navigate back to it. Computers showed steady electronic bar charts and maps. Two men monitored the computers and television monitors showing key areas of the dam. I understood very little of what I was seeing.
What I do understand is that two weeks before I was born this dam began to take shape. Many people probably opposed this dam, and many do today. But it’s here. The benefits are apparent and the dam is unlikely to disappear. I wish I could have enjoyed the river and canyon corridor before Lake Powell began to rise against the Glen Canyon Dam, covering them, but I’d like to see a lot of things be what nature intended them to be. In this regard I will rarely if ever get what I want. I understand my world in this way.

It’s time to go to Lake Powell and see what is there.
for Friday, September 6
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: South
Jan Nesset
An experienced outdoorsman, Jan Nesset knows that everyone has to pitch in at camp
A native of Montana and the third of four children, Jan Nesset joins American...
   >> more...



List of All Journal Entries
•
Wednesday, April 28
Jan Nesset
American Frontiers: Part II: Taking Stock
   >> more...

•
Sunday, December 1
Jan Nesset
Canyonlands in December
   >> more...

•
Thursday, November 21
Jan Nesset
Snow Raspberry Bounty
   >> more...

•
Sunday, November 17
Jan Nesset
The Bisti Badlands
   >> more...

•
Friday, November 15
Jan Nesset
Public Land Flows Through It
   >> more...

•
Thursday, November 7
Jan Nesset
A Day At Earth Analytic's Home
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, October 29
Jan Nesset
Slot Canyon Adventure
   >> more...

•
Monday, October 28
Jan Nesset
Some Things Never Change
   >> more...

•
Sunday, October 27
Jan Nesset
Back To The Wave
   >> more...

•
Monday, October 7
Jan Nesset
The Thing About Summits
   >> more...

•
Saturday, September 28
Jan Nesset
A New Beginning: National Public Lands Day
   >> more...

•
Thursday, September 26
Jan Nesset
Big Day of Sneak and Salvage
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, September 25
Jan Nesset
History-Coated Strawberry
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, September 24
Jan Nesset
The Last Of It
   >> more...

•
Monday, September 23
Jan Nesset
Dinosaurlandia
   >> more...

•
Sunday, September 22
Jan Nesset
Over The Edge
   >> more...

•
Saturday, September 21
Jan Nesset
God Bless America
   >> more...

•
Friday, September 20
Jan Nesset
Sometimes It's A Tough Life And We Get To Do It
   >> more...

•
Thursday, September 19
Jan Nesset
The Niche Near You
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, September 18
Jan Nesset
Snow Day
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, September 17
Jan Nesset
A Capitol Reef Bull's Eye
   >> more...

•
Monday, September 16
Jan Nesset
A Lucky Rift
   >> more...

•
Sunday, September 15
Jan Nesset
Riding The Hog's Back
   >> more...

•
Saturday, September 14
Jan Nesset
Oh Rhythm My Rhythm
   >> more...

•
Friday, September 13
Jan Nesset
Precious Images
   >> more...

•
Thursday, September 12
Jan Nesset
From the Hole to the Staircase
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, September 11
Jan Nesset
Happy Days
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, September 10
Jan Nesset
Do You Believe In Magic?
   >> more...

•
Monday, September 9
Jan Nesset
The Bridge Over the River Why
   >> more...

•
Sunday, September 8
Jan Nesset
Public Lands And…Not You?
   >> more...

•
Saturday, September 7
Jan Nesset
That Place So Special
   >> more...

•
Friday, September 6
Jan Nesset
Just Looking To Have Some Fun – Be Dammed!
   >> more...

•
Thursday, September 5
Jan Nesset
Do The Wave
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, September 4
Jan Nesset
The Condors Are Coming!
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, September 3
Jan Nesset
Fires Are For The Birds
   >> more...

•
Monday, September 2
Jan Nesset
Back On Top
   >> more...

•
Sunday, September 1
Jan Nesset
Perfection
   >> more...

•
Saturday, August 31
Jan Nesset
The Wheels Have Left The Tarmac
   >> more...

•
Friday, August 30
Jan Nesset
Star Light
   >> more...

•
Thursday, August 29
Jan Nesset
The Traditional Connection
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, August 28
Jan Nesset
Onward and Upward On Mountain Bikes
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, August 27
Jan Nesset
Checkerboard Kings and Queens
   >> more...

•
Monday, August 26
Jan Nesset
Aldo Leopold As Ranch Manager
   >> more...

•
Sunday, August 25
Jan Nesset
A Story In Everything
   >> more...

•
Saturday, August 24
Jan Nesset
Fire In The Whole
   >> more...

•
Friday, August 23
Jan Nesset
"Good Morning, Flagstaff!"
   >> more...

•
Thursday, August 22
Jan Nesset
Hoping For The Best
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, August 21
Jan Nesset
Could Get Stinky
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, August 20
Jan Nesset
Wheels Asunder
   >> more...

•
Monday, August 19
Jan Nesset
Hurt Me, Thank You!
   >> more...

•
Sunday, August 18
Jan Nesset
Roads Aplenty and Rocks of Pleasure
   >> more...

•
Saturday, August 17
Jan Nesset
Of Dragons and Fire
   >> more...

•
Friday, August 16
Jan Nesset
Motorcycles and the Zen of Route Mechanics
   >> more...

•
Thursday, August 15
Jan Nesset
Puzzled
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, August 14
Jan Nesset
A Day Off, Sort Of
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, August 13
Jan Nesset
A Delightful, Light Day
   >> more...

•
Monday, August 12
Jan Nesset
Courage On Eagle Mountain
   >> more...

•
Sunday, August 11
Jan Nesset
Farewell
   >> more...

•
Saturday, August 10
Jan Nesset
My Aching Back In The Saddle
   >> more...

•
Friday, August 9
Jan Nesset
Back In The Saddle
   >> more...

•
Thursday, August 8
Jan Nesset
In The Saddle
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, August 7
Jan Nesset
Shut My Mouth!
   >> more...

•
Tuesday, August 6
Jan Nesset
Diversity and Song
   >> more...

•
Monday, August 5
Jan Nesset
An Unraveling
   >> more...

•
Sunday, August 4
Jan Nesset
A Bagged Peak
   >> more...

•
Saturday, August 3
Jan Nesset
Lines On A Map
   >> more...

•
Friday, August 2
Jan Nesset
GPS-Marriage Made In Heaven
   >> more...

•
Thursday, August 1
Jan Nesset
Free Wheelin'
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, July 31
Jan Nesset
An Excellent Start
   >> more...








TOP





All material copyright ©2002 - 2018, Public Lands Interpretive Association except photographs where ownership is otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.