October 5, 2014 – Day 1
Renting a houseboat on Lake Powell was something Don had talked about doing for as long as I’ve known him, some 20 plus years now. Having grown up in Arizona, I knew the northern part of the state was stunningly beautiful and had seen Lake Powell from Glen Canyon Dam, but still I didn’t get that twinge of excitement when thinking about boating on Lake Powell that I do about more “exotic” locations.
But here I sit on the upper deck of the houseboat we’ve rented for the next five days with his family, five couples in all, watching the morning light change on the facing bluffs, brightening from deep shades of orange pink to a softer seashell hue. Most definitely an exotic landscape by any standard.
We rented the boat from Aramark out of Wahweap Marina. Don had reserved and paid for the boat the previous January on a special deal that gave us 40% off a fall rental. Don and I arrived the day before everyone else to check on the boat, sign the paper work and do some of the preliminary shopping. We finished buying the fresh food the next morning before heading to the marina.
Organizing a six day boat trip is not that unlike organizing a backpack trip. You’re on the water for six day/ five nights and have to figure out everything you will need to feed ten people. The quantities seem overwhelming. Really, 6 loaves of bread? 100 pieces of fruit? 4 pounds of lunch meat? 3 cases of beer? 25 bottles of wine?
The 59 foot boat has plenty of room for all of us. The kitchen is small but has adequate storage to hold all the food we brought. There is an ice chest for drinks and a free standing freezer to keep your extra ice cold or to make additional ice. The interior has a booth for dining and extra seating along a sectional, both can be converted into additional beds.
Up top there is a round table that fits six chairs comfortably, a padded bench, and two chaise lounge chairs at the back of the deck. There are four very small “bedrooms”, two of which are just an alcove off the center hall. The upper deck also has pads to sleep two couples. With good weather we found the boat comfortably spacious.
We arrived at the marina shortly after 9AM, received a quick lesson on operating the house boat and tow-along power boat we had also rented, and with the help of their motorized porter service loaded all our food and belongings on the boat. All went smoothly except for a miscommunication that resulted in us waiting another half hour for them to bring us the power boat.
By 11AM we were on our way down the lake. There was a fair amount of traffic through the narrow channel coming back to the marina on a Sunday.
We followed the boat rental’s suggested itinerary and headed just a couple of hours to Gunsight Canyon, named for a butte that resembles a gunsight, where we found a place to beach the boat at the shore.
Our first beaching experience was rather chaotic, trying to get the lines attached to the back of the boat and then secured on shore, either by an anchor buried into the sand or in one case tied off to a boulder.
One the boat was secured we headed off to explore the shore. By 3PM the afternoon light was already starting to soften, deepening the color of the majestic butts and blue water.
We also found these steps carved in the side of the cliff. Manmade we were sure because of their even spacing – just enough distance apart to let a person scamper up the side of an otherwise too steep face.
After dark lights from a couple of other boats were visible in the distance.
Don and I slept on the upper deck. At first the moon was so bright it felt as though we were sleeping with the lights on. We woke later in the night, after the moon had gone down, to a star filled sky. We laid there watching falling stars before drifting back to sleep. At 6AM we woke to a soft glow over the lake.