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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jan Nesset
Tuesday, September 10
Do You Believe In Magic?
With coffee and breakfast behind us, our team settled into what promised to be a lazy day. With an abundance of warm water and a handy sandstone playground, some of us can care less for that promise. We choose to redefine “lazy.”

Dropping all but my swim shorts and water sandals, I run east on the beach toward a side canyon navigable only by water. It curls back out of view so it is a natural adventure in waiting. I call to my team mates, let's go. And Jacob and Julie respond. They’re soon in hot pursuit.
Once I swim out of view, I scramble up the steep sandstone and establish a precarious perch. My plan is to ambush them, somehow.
They are out of view so, true to my nature, I turn impatient. Four blue herons fly by, distracting me even more. Then splash, splash! Julie appears around the corner but does not see me in my perch. She stops and calls for Jacob, saying she cannot see me. Looking deeper into the canyon we can see steep-sided passageways and no way that looks easy to penetrate other than by swimming.

Unable to think of a good way to ambush Julie, I call to her. Jacob, still unseen by me, gets the message that I am near. Julie pulls herself onto a sandstone slope to rest in the sun. Jacob, on the other hand, interprets where I am and begins to climb the sandstone, which is hardly a surprise.
Julie sees the writing on the wall, and says she’s heading back to the boat.

I attempt to communicate with Jacob, by yelling, and it works. He yells back, and somehow we know we’re climbing to meet one another. Like I said, Julie saw this coming.

Jacob and I meet high on the sandstone and run and scramble up the ramps and cracks. The opposite of gravity is working our minds. Stopping will only occur when we can go no higher.
Our stopping point happens to be atop a sandstone tower overlooking our two houseboats hundreds of feet below where they are moored to a beach in Oak Canyon.

We yelled and got the attention of our team on the boats. Then, dropping our shorts, we mooned them.

Jacob informs me that one of our motorboats has a wakeboard. With our attention turned to the water, gravity will be our modus operandi until we get there.

While wiping out on my first attempt of a deep-water start with a wakeboard, the handgrip snapped from my hands with such force into my calf it is now painful to walk. My big toe suffered the same fate on my next attempt. Despite the pain I attempted several more starts but with no success. I limp, unable to stretch my leg enough for my foot to flatten on the floor. I’ll survive the injury, but in two days I begin a steep hike. My hope is that I’ll heal as quickly as I think I will.

Steve Ward informs Jacob and me that in all his years on Lake Powell he has not seen anybody complete a deep-water start with a wakeboard. Dock starts are status quo. He can’t say that again because Jacob successfully accomplished two deep-water starts.

Our program this afternoon is with Mark Anderson, the aquatic ecologist for the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and Gordon Mueller, a fisheries biologist for the United States Geologic Service.
Mark begins. He manages the strategic plan to protect water quality at Lake Powell. Over the years several beaches have had to be closed because of fecal contamination but new procedures and better toilet facilities have all but eliminated beach closures.

What piques the interest of many of us is the work being done to avoid the inevitable. The Zebra mussel, an invasive species that is quickly spreading across the country from the northeast, is a nasty critter that gets into waterways and multiplies rapidly. It clogs filtration systems and engines in boats, covers beaches with sharp shells and stinks in the process, and forms thick mats where it gets a foothold. “They’re one of the worst you can imagine,” said Mark. They’re native to the Caspian and Black seas.

Because there’s no ecologically friendly way to eradicate them -- yet! -- Mark is hoping to delay the Zebra mussel’s introduction to Lake Powell as long as possible. He is also hopeful that in the coming years there will be a way to eradicate the mussel. Until then, preventing its introduction is the key.

But it’ll be a battle. “Lake Powell is the most likely place for introduction in the West,” he said.

In place now is a visitor monitoring system that helps determine whether an incoming boat may carry the mussel. If a boat is determined to be a likely carrier of the mussel, then visitors are asked to wash his or her boat free of charge.

At this point the washings are voluntary but the hope is to enact a regulation that makes them mandatory.

Of the nine native fish found in the Lower Colorado River seven of them are endangered: Razorback sucker, Bonytail, Colorado pikeminnow, Humpback chub, Woundfin, Desert pupfish and the Sonoran topminnow. The two that are not endangered, the Roundtail chub and the Flannelmouth sucker, are species of special concern.

By 1970 more than 70 non-native species had been introduced to the Colorado River system. These are facts that fish biologists such as Gordon Mueller work with every day.

There may not be much hope for any of the species to make a full recovery, he said, but many of them can be managed. If everything to help the fish fails then extinction is the final option.

Mueller said that in the past 22 years more than 12 million native fish have been stocked in the Colorado River system but in that time only 120 of those fish have been recovered.

The odds are stacked against the fish because physical and biological changes on the Colorado River system have been tremendous. And, according to Mueller, “there’s probably a thousand times more water in the Colorado River system now than at any time in history.”
Dams have changed the character of many sections of the river, in many cases changing silty warm water to clear and cold water. In Mexico where the river system naturally wants to flow into the Sea of Cortez there are 60 miles of old river channel that are completely dry. All the water has been diverted to irrigation channels.

Aldo Leopold and his brother paddled the Colorado River all the way to the Sea of Cortez. Read about it in “Green Lagoons,” a chapter in “A Sand County Almanac.” To Leopold the trip was magic but he vowed never to return. Why? Because he knew it had changed so much it had lost its magic.

With every step we chisel in the name of progress, are we one step closer to a land without magic?
for Tuesday, September 10
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...
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List of All Journal Entries
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Wednesday, April 28
Jan Nesset
American Frontiers: Part II: Taking Stock
   >> more...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, September 23
Jan Nesset
Dinosaurlandia
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Sunday, September 22
Jan Nesset
Over The Edge
   >> more...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, September 2
Jan Nesset
Back On Top
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Sunday, September 1
Jan Nesset
Perfection
   >> more...

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Saturday, August 31
Jan Nesset
The Wheels Have Left The Tarmac
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Friday, August 30
Jan Nesset
Star Light
   >> more...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, August 18
Jan Nesset
Roads Aplenty and Rocks of Pleasure
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Saturday, August 17
Jan Nesset
Of Dragons and Fire
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Friday, August 16
Jan Nesset
Motorcycles and the Zen of Route Mechanics
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Thursday, August 15
Jan Nesset
Puzzled
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Wednesday, August 14
Jan Nesset
A Day Off, Sort Of
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Tuesday, August 13
Jan Nesset
A Delightful, Light Day
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Monday, August 12
Jan Nesset
Courage On Eagle Mountain
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Sunday, August 11
Jan Nesset
Farewell
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Saturday, August 10
Jan Nesset
My Aching Back In The Saddle
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Friday, August 9
Jan Nesset
Back In The Saddle
   >> more...

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

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Wednesday, August 7
Jan Nesset
Shut My Mouth!
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Tuesday, August 6
Jan Nesset
Diversity and Song
   >> more...

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Monday, August 5
Jan Nesset
An Unraveling
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Sunday, August 4
Jan Nesset
A Bagged Peak
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Saturday, August 3
Jan Nesset
Lines On A Map
   >> more...

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

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

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








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