Lake Powell Boat Camping: Summer 2015
It was midnight and I just got home from work. Trying to scramble around the house without waking anyone, trying to make sure we don’t forget anything. The alarm goes off at 3:30am, I stumble to the car and pass back out in the passenger seat, 3 hours of sleep makes it hard for me to function properly. I wake up at around 7am somewhere in the middle of the desert.
The desert to me has always been a magical place, dating back to some of my earliest memories. Going camping in the Mojave Desert in my parents VW Camper Van as a very small child and of course boat camping at the sparkly oasis that is Lake Powell. Lake Powell was a yearly summer vacation in which we would over pack my father’s 16′ speed boat and power hours and hours up-lake and camp in some secluded canyon.
I’ve been doing some variant of that every summer for the past 20 years. The wind in my face and the smell of the water always brings me to a special place in my soul. This place of sparkling water and fire hot rocks embodies my love for adventure and wilderness. For the weekend traveler Lake Powell is a pretty lake surrounded by red rock and a great place to catch a tan and water ski. But for the more seasoned Lake Powell Goer, this calm lake can drown your boat, bake you under its unrelenting sun, blow you away in its afternoon wind, and even wash you away in the late afternoon thunderstorms. The wilderness should be a frightening place for the unprepared.
With that in mind I loaded our stuff onto the family packhorse, my mother will refer to him as “my brother”. It was 8am and the boat ramp was already hot and chaos was rampant. I was once told that the launch ramp is where marriages go to die. We load onto the boat and escape the madness and cruise through the blue green water.
We drive about an hour up-lake before we start looking for a camping spot. The key to finding a good Lake Powell camping spot is the following:
– No large sand beach (counter intuitive I know, but the wind can and will place a inch of sand into your tent)
– A small mud patch which is just large enough to pull the boat onto
– High canyon walls which will render shade in the morning and late afternoon
We searched up and down three or four canyons before heading down Mountain Sheep Canyon which is at buoy 43. All the way in the very back there was the perfect spot. A small mud patch which lead onto a rocky flat camp site. There were plenty of places to set up tents and a kitchen area. There was a canyon wall to our west which should yield shade in the late afternoon. We began setting up camp. To me the process was simple and like muscle memory, I needed to point Christina in the right direction a few times but I was impressed at how easily she was able to step in and help.
With the “work” done, it was time to settle into the lake lifestyle. The long weekend passed too quickly. No phones or internet. Just time spent with family.
Christina and I spent many hours talking about our future. Up to this point Christina had been pretty indifferent about traveling around the world, she just wanted to spend time as a family. But after a day or so of technology withdrawals, Christina was starting to really embrace this nomad lifestyle I had been trying to explain to her. It probably didn’t hurt bringing the Summer edition of Overland Journal and reading about far-off adventures.
We woke up to the buzzing of hundreds of gnats and the occasional mosquito at 5am. I didn’t want to wake up, not only because it was 5am, but because it was our final day on the lake. It was time to go back to “real life”. Ever since we had decided to go on this crazy adventure I’ve been like a kid on the last day of school. Counting down the seconds and not hearing a word the teacher is saying. The drive home was silent. With the girls asleep and the AC on full blast, my mind couldn’t help but wander. I could see myself camping in the dunes of Morocco and driving through the outback in Australia. It left me more determined than ever to take my family around the world.