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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jessica Terrell
Friday, September 6
Tour of Glen Canyon Dam, Hatch River Expeditions, and Lee’s Ferry (Lonely Dell) and the Houseboat!!!
View
The amazing double rainbow Team South enjoy at Wahweap Marina, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

The amazing double rainbow Team South enjoy at Wahweap Marina, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Courtesy Lorie McGraw

View
The sun sets over Navajo Mountain and Glen Canyon, AZ

The sun sets over Navajo Mountain and Glen Canyon, AZ
Courtesy Lorie McGraw

Today was a whirlwind of special events, and I was crossing my fingers that all would go as planned, for I had made numerous calls before going down into the Grand Canyon to prepare for this one day. The mantra some of us were whispering under our breath all day was “Houseboat, houseboat, houseboat…” Can you tell we were a little anxious to get on the houseboat?
Our first stop was at the Hatch River Expedition warehouse, where they fed us a great breakfast that consisted of much of the same types of food we ate while on the river a few days ago. Sara Hatch, the general manager, gave an excellent talk on the background of river running, the current issues, and the importance of the business to her.
I was particularly interested in hearing about the permit system since I had talked to a couple members of the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association back in Flagstaff. The permit system was initiated in the 1970’s by the National Park Service. Some type of regulation was necessary on the river in order to protect the natural and cultural resources, as well as keep people safe while on the mighty Colorado River. Current use of the river is seventy percent to commercial users and thirty percent to private users. Hatch received the largest commercial permit because they take the most people down the river per year. The management of resources on the river is mandated by the Colorado River Management Plan, which was put into effect in 1989 and is now up for review. Needless to say, because this review is taking place, all the issues concerning the use of the river are being brought to the forefront. The process of review is open for public comment at this time.
There are many issues that will be looked at during the review, two of which are allocation of river use and the possibility of designating the Grand Canyon as a wilderness area. There will most likely be a huge public outcry if the Grand Canyon is designated as a wilderness area, because it would limit the use of the area to non-motorized travel only. This is an issue that has been on the table for twenty-one years now, and will most likely go on for quite some time. The use of the river would dramatically change, as the river rafts, which have motors, would not be allowed on the river and the number of rowboats would significantly increase. Subsequently, the National Park Service would have to adjust the number of access permits issued and that would mean fewer hikers and more people in rowboats. This would drastically change the economy of the canyon area, as well as increase pressure on the river. In response to this issue, many commercial outfitters, including Hatch River Expeditions, have voluntarily changed to four-stroke motors (lower emissions, quieter).
The second issue is that of the allocation of the river use. The permit system at the Grand Canyon is unlike any other permit system, because if you pay and sign up, you are guaranteed to go on the river eventually. What many people do is to sign up family members and friends for reservations, so the chance of their trip coming up in the list is increased. Sara told us that twenty-one percent of the names on the waiting list share a common address or phone number. Also, the cancellation rate for these permits run at about thirty percent, so if you can drop everything upon getting the call that your party can go in three days rather than three years, then you have it made! Right now there are about seven thousand names on the waiting list. Sara made a very valid point that most private boaters are not prepared to go on rafting trips alone. Right now the only prerequisite for going on a private trip is having been on at least one trip before. I know that personally, I would not be ready to prepare for my own trip after having been on a river only once. So there are safety concerns, too, that must be considered. On the business side of issuing permits, Sara mentioned that each commercial outfitter is give an certain number of user days per year, one user day being equal to one person on the river for one day. Hatch River Expeditions currently has 11,000 user days for the current season. Sara stated that she is very happy with the size of the business as it is and doesn’t really want to see it grow any more. The more business she does, the higher the costs for issuing permits, since they have to go through the National Park Service each season. The National Park Service receives $2.4 million per year from commercial outfitters, and Sara is not entirely sure where that money goes.
Commercial permits last for seven years, and at the end of 2002, all the commercial permits will be up for renewal. Because the Colorado River Management Plan is currently under review, the outfitters have been granted three one-year permits extensions which will take them to the end of 2005. If the issues surrounding the Colorado River Management Plan are not resolved by this time, all commercial permits will expire and there can be no more commercial trips (and probably no private trips) into the Grand Canyon.
The information presented by Sara Hatch was very informative and allowed me to more clearly see the commercial perspective of this popular and exciting activity.
Houseboat, houseboat, houseboat…
From Hatch River Expeditions we drove to the location of the Navajo Bridge and met up with National Park Service employee Allen Malmquist. He took us out onto the bridge that spans the Colorado River not far downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam. He pointed out that the management of this area is far more complex than one would think, even though it is mostly through a single federal land management agency. The canyon walls on either side of the river are a part of the Grand Canyon National Park, while the flat top area right above the walls is a part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The cliffs high above the river are a part of the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, which like the canyon walls and flat top areas, are all managed by the National Park Service. Finally, the land across the other side of the river is a part of the Navajo Reservation.
Allen then led us to the Lonely Dell Ranch not far from Lee’s Ferry, where I learned some pretty incredible history about the area. Allen was really passionate about this, his area of expertise, and told us a wonderful story about one of the historic buildings on the site. Lonely Dell got its name from one of the wives of Warren M. Johnson, a Mormon who upon first seeing the area thought it was a “lonely dell.” Warren M. Johnson would have done almost anything to assist others in crossing the river, and he did just that for twenty years. He started the ranch by hand-digging irrigation canals (one was 2.5 miles long!) and he planted fruit trees and crops to help feed his family which consisted of twenty children conceived by nineteen wives (he was never really sure which child went with which wife!). Many of the fruit trees are still being taken care of on the grounds to give visitors an idea of what it must have been like. The cabin he built still stands today, with only a few minor replacements having been made to the original woodwork. The story Allen related was specifically centered on this cabin. We must look at what was happening at the time to understand the complete picture. This was gold rush country (from Glen Canyon to the Lee’s Ferry area), and the fever had struck almost everyone, including a man by the name of John R. Neilson, an architect who had big plans for mining gold up and down the river. He constructed a two-story barge equipped with everything necessary, and he proceeded to float down the Colorado River. Ending up at Lee’s Ferry, he befriended the Johnson family, teaching one of the children to be a blacksmith and even giving him the shop he had maintained on his barge. Having no need to keep the barge, John R. Neilson dismantled the craft with the help of the Johnsons. About this time, Warren Johnson decided to rebuild his small cabin and create a schoolhouse. The interesting part of the story is that he used large pieces of lumber from the dismantled barge and incorporated them into the rebuilding of the cabin. Allen pointed out the pieces that were obviously not cut as regular lumber, and it was amazing to think of all the work involved in taking apart a huge boat and then hauling the individual pieces to the dell. Interestingly enough, while Allen was telling this story and mentioned the barge, I instantly knew that he would tell us that the barge was incorporated into the cabin. It was just one of those strange feelings that I don’t often get, and when I do it is very surprising! Call me crazy, but I am being honest! I’m sure everybody gets a feeling like that at some point. Oh, well…
Houseboat, houseboat, houseboat…
My next goal of the day was to make sure the trekkers caught a boat at Lee’s Ferry, which would take them up the river to the Glen Canyon Dam. As the rest of the team listened to Allen relate some more local history, I went to the banks of the river to search for a boat. Hmmm…there sure were a lot of commercial trips taking off. I asked a few people and nobody knew anything about a boat going upstream. I was not happy to report this news to Bob, and I know he wasn’t happy to hear it! After trying to make a couple phone calls and getting voice mail, I began to think this wasn’t going to work out. Then someone spotted a blue boat coming around the bend from upstream. I waited anxiously for the passengers to exit before I made my pleas to the boat captain. He knew nothing about having to take people back upstream, as he is usually taking people downstream all day. He made a few calls in to his coworkers and within ten minutes, the trekkers were on their way! It is really amazing how things just seem to fall into place, even if it happens at the last minute. This entire trip has had many of these situations, where we know what is supposed to happen and then things change and we seem to be the last ones to find out (due to difficulty in communications on the road). We have become quite flexible and adaptable to about any situation and this will most certainly aid me in the future. I have learned already that life is not just about me and what I want, it’s about going out of your way to help others and in this group a little goes a long way. Our team has become so close that we almost know what another teammate wants before they even say anything!
Houseboat, houseboat, houseboat…
We waved the trekkers off and then hopped into the vehicles to hightail it over to the Glen Canyon Dam the long way, by blacktop. It was a really scenic road and I wished we had more time to stop and take photos and just take it all in. At one point the road, after creeping across a desert-like landscape, wound up the side of a plateau, giving us yet another spectacular view. When we reached the dam, Doug Hendrix, Public Affairs Specialist at the facility, greeted us and had attempted to get some media in to interview the trekkers. Amazingly enough, we beat the trekkers to the dam, so when they arrived, a reporter was there to do a group interview, and then we were given a very special tour of the dam by the manager, Ken Rice. To talk about the tour without giving some information on how the dam works would make no sense, so I will attempt to give a crash course in hydroelectric power before I talk about the actual tour.
The purpose of the dam is twofold (at a minimum), because it generates electricity to provide power to many communities, and it also serves as a storage area for the flow of the Colorado River, which really comes in handy in times of drought. In order to generate hydropower, water must be in motion (called kinetic energy). The water then turns the turbine blades, which turn the kinetic energy into mechanical energy. This mechanical energy turns rotors on generators, which turns it into the energy form we know as electricity. So how does this happen? Water from the lake is released through the dam to the Colorado River below through large tubes called penstocks. There are eight of these in the dam, and each one is fifteen feet in diameter and more than 400 feet long at an incline of 60 degrees. This allows the water to accelerate through the penstocks and turn the turbine blades. The turbines are attached to generator rotors, which are turned at 150 revolutions per minute by the rushing water. This converts the energy from the water into electricity. Transmission lines ascend from the bottom of the dam (on the river side) up to 210-foot towers located across the canyon. From there the power reaches a switchyard where it is distributed to various markets. Over 1.7 million people in parts of Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Nevada are served by the power generated at the Glen Canyon Dam. This amounts to over five billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power annually!!! In addition, about 25 percent of the nation’s food is grown on the two million acres of land irrigated by the Colorado River.
I sure had a lot of questions as we toured the facility and many were answered along the way. The Glen Canyon Dam stands 710 feet tall, only sixteen feet shorter than the Hoover Dam. The dam is owned and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation, which is a part of the Department of the Interior. The project began in 1956 and the filling of the lake began in 1963. The lake did not completely fill until 1980. When full, Lake Powell sits at 3,700 feet above sea level, is 186 miles long, and has 1,960 miles of shoreline. The water that is held by Lake Powell is an unbelievable amount - 9 trillion gallons!!! When I was inside the cool, damp depths of the dam, it was apparent that the dam is not made of one huge piece of concrete, but actually many smaller ones, relatively speaking. Each block of concrete was 60 by 210 feet and consisted of twenty-four tons of material.
During the tour, one of the first stops was to see the plumb lines that are used to monitor the movement of the dam. It is a structure that was built to move, and it withstands it with no problems, so this monitoring is primarily just routine. The dam may move just fractions of an inch in any given day. Deeper and deeper we moved into the dam. Ken told us that the water-filled troughs along the edge of the walkway were to divert the seepage from the lake. This is normal and to be expected, and the key is in diverting it using the best technology possible, which is what happens at the Glen Canyon Dam. Then we moved on to the control room, which no visitors usually get to see. It reminded me of the Starship Enterprise, with more electronic equipment on the wall than I could take in, and blinking lights everywhere. Two men sat in chairs, and they were in charge of the daily operation of the facility. The dam employs around 70 workers, not including security, which has been significantly heightened since September 11. This creates some waiting in line at the entrance when the dam gets over 900,000 visitors each year!
So why use hydroelectric power as opposed to other methods of capturing energy? Hydroelectric power is a very clean source of energy. The water used to power the turbines and generators is discharged into the Colorado River without change. Just for comparison purposes, it would take about 3.5 million tons of coal to produce the same amount of power that the dam generates annually!
Houseboat, houseboat, houseboat!!! We were finally on our way to the houseboat which was docked in Wahweap Bay for the next two days. Upon seeing the huge, RV-like structure floating on the water, I was both impressed and kind of disgusted. How to explain this one… Well, I really liked the size of the boat. It would definitely have plenty of room for all nine of us on board for the next five or six days. However, it looked just like I described it - like a floating RV, and that is not an attractive image. Maybe it didn’t help that it was sitting amongst hundreds of other boats just like it. My only hope is that we don’t kill each other (there’ll be nowhere to go but the water!), and that we have lots of fun and stay safe!
Lake Powell looks to be a very interesting place, to say the least...
for Friday, September 6
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: South
Jessica Terrell
LM-jessicahorse04-08.jpg

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List of All Journal Entries
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Friday, November 15
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Sunday, October 27
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Meeting Team North
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Saturday, October 26
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The Finals Days...
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Thursday, September 19
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An Eye-Opening Experience
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Wednesday, September 18
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Days and Days of ATV's
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Tuesday, September 17
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My "Favorite" Day
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Friday, September 6
Jessica Terrell
Tour of Glen Canyon Dam, Hatch River Expeditions, and Lee’s Ferry (Lonely Dell) and the Houseboat!!!
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Monday, September 2
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Grand Canyon, North Kaibab Trail
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Sunday, September 1
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Grand Canyon, Phantom Ranch
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Saturday, August 31
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Grand Canyon Day 2
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Friday, August 30
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South Rim, Grand Canyon
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Monday, August 26
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Grand Canyon Sunrise
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Sunday, August 11
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Snow Lake
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Wednesday, August 7
Jessica Terrell
Silver City, NM
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Saturday, August 3
Jessica Terrell
Location: Lake Valley, New Mexico
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Thursday, August 1
Jessica Terrell
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Wednesday, July 31
Jessica Terrell
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