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Thread: Grand Gulch Death March

  1. #1
    Outdoorsman gnwatts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Carbondale, Co

    Grand Gulch Death March

    I have been scanning old 4x5's and I came across these "Grand Gulch, Collins Spring to Kane Gulch Death March, April 1984" images. We decided that the Escalante area was getting too crowded, and we had heard of Grand Gulch and all of the Anasazi ruins from a few friends who said it was uncrowded, so it sounded perfect. I had decided that I did not want to bring my 35mm camera, just my 4x5. I bought the largest Gregpry pack available, had the belt and straps modified to fit me. I cut foam blocks up to help stabilize the camera in the pack. Along with the camera, I had 8 film holders (holding 2 sheets of film each), Pentax spot meter, focusing cloth, film changing bag, extra film, a 90mm Schneider super angulon lens (wide angle) and an ancient 135 mm Zeiss. I decided my normal tripod was way too heavy, so I modified an old smaller Gitzo I had with a lighter ball head. And then I had to fit in all of my other camping stuff. The pack was heavy. I needed help to get it on my back. Embarassing.
    Off we go from San Diego. We get to the Kane Gulch Ranger "station", which was in this old trailer. We learn that it had been a dry year, and also to arrange for the ranger to shuttle our car from Collins to Kane.
    We arrive at the Collins Spring trail head around noon. There we met a woman named Jean Akens, who was associated with the Edge of the Cedars Museum in Blanding. She said that she was stuck, had been there for 2 days. Her Bronco would not start. She said she had plenty of available water in the canyon and enough food for a couple of days. She was starting to get worried that she would have to walk out. So she was happy to see us. I decided to lend her my parents Volvo which I had borrowed for the trip. We could get our money back from the ranger, and Jean would get to go home. It was a little disconcerting loaning a perfect stranger a nice expensive Volvo. But I trusted her.
    Disaster struck at Bannister ruin. The ball head on my tripod broke, rendering my tripod useless. View cameras need tripods. Or so I thought. I was able to balance the long monorail on rock platforms I built. It was a pain in the ass and time consuming, but that was my only way of making photographs. A majority of the shots came out blurry, and some of the film holders had leaked light. But it was worth it I think.

    Bannister ruin

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    It was a long and tough hike. Incredibly beautiful. It killed me to walk by amazing ruins and rock art and not feel like getting the camera out. Not taking the 35mm camera was a mistake. At Bannister ruin we met 2 hikers who had started at Kane and were leaving via Collins. They would be the only 2 people we would see, and we would see them twice. We saw them again at Green Mask. They had gone to Moab, showered, saw the sites and decided to go back to Grand Gulch because they did not see Green Mask the first time and wanted to see it. So they day hiked in.

    I think this ruin is just down from Government trail?

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    Our last camp was in this incredible cave. It was drizzling, so we were stoked.

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    When we got to Kane Gulch Ranger station 5 days later my parents Volvo was there. In the car was a book on the Ute Mountain Tribal Park that Jean had written. In it was this note (she ate our last Famous Amos chocolate chip cookie, she was so hungry):

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  4. #2
    Outdoorsman gnwatts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Carbondale, Co

    Moon House Ruin and Pueblo Bonito

    In the parking lot at Kane Gulch we met a guy who needed a ride to the Bullet canyon road, so we gave him a ride. He told us about this place he saw a few days before called Moon House ruin, the best preserved ruin he had ever seen. He gave us directions.
    Even though I felt like dying I was up for a nights rest at the parking area for Moon House and the hike in. I also had my normal tripod.

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    About a quarter of a mile down canyon we found the suburbs:

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    We then drove down to Chaco Canyon, arriving late at night. At sunrise we went over to Pueblo Bonito. Having the place to ourselves for about 30 minutes was pretty cool.

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    This amazed me. They placed a window (or door) through the corner:

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    After this trip I knew I was hooked on Cedar Mesa, and cliff dwellings in particular.

  5. #3
    Bogley BigShot
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Just a few miles from Zion National Park

  6. #4
    Wow - great photos, and great report! Thanks for sharing!!

  7. #5
    Awesome photos and stories--thanks for posting. Looking forward to a Cedar Mesa hike next month--first time back there in 15 years!

  8. #6
    Outdoorsman gnwatts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Carbondale, Co
    Thanks for your comments. Hopefully it hasn't changed much in 15 years.

  9. #7
    But if I agreed with you, we would both be wrong.

  10. #8
    Awesome! It's great to see pics of the place from 25 yrs ago.

  11. #9
    Wow, nice pics/TR! Thanks!

  12. #10
    Bogley BigShot oldno7's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    We're all here, because we ain't all there.
    Very nice TR, thanks for sharing

  13. #11
    Great report, thanks for having the scans done.

    Quoting my best friend, Bob McNally, after a bad boating trip: "Nature scares me!"

    Utah photos:

  14. #12
    Outdoorsman gnwatts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Carbondale, Co
    Thanks everyone.
    Win, I am scanning them myself, with varying degrees of success. I think next time I will have a pro do them on a drum.

  15. #13
    Thanks for sharing. Ditto on the scans. These retro trip reports are sure cool!

    The red rock really doesn't change much...

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