Chapter #266: Edward Abbey - Lake Powell 1965 - December 19, 2012

Cover of the original first edition hardcover Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

A 1965 Visit to Edward Abbey's old Glen Canyon and Rainbow Bridge National Monument

In 1965, when I was seventeen years old, my father and I embarked on a Four Corners States Grand Circle Tour. After our visit to Moab, Utah, including old Arches National Monument, the Book Cliffs and Dead Horse Point, we traveled south. I shall save our stops at the Goosenecks of the San Juan River and Monument Valley for later. First, I shall discuss our visit to Lake Powell and Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

Although Edward Abbey’s seminal book, Desert Solitaire did not appear in print until 1968, I shall quote from that book regarding Glen Canyon and Rainbow Bridge. Construction of the Glen Canyon Dam topped out in late 1963. When Glen Canyon Dam 1965, with Lake Powell partially filled for the first time - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)we visited in 1965, the lake appeared to be about half full. Years earlier, Edward Abbey and his friend, Ralph Newcomb, had rafted down the yet untamed Colorado River through Glen Canyon. Leaving Newcomb at the river, Abbey had hiked to Rainbow Bridge. Abbey’s visit there was an early 1960’s whitewater, wilderness experience. Ours visit was a mid-1960’s powerboat cruise on a placid lake.

Glen Canyon – Like no other occurrence in Edward Abbey’s life, the inundation of Glen Canyon created a psychic scar in the man. He knew that Glen Canyon Dam was the first of three new dams then planned for the Lower Colorado Basin. His determination not to let another Colorado River dam arise became
The author, Jim McGillis at age seventeen, on Lake Powell near Glen Canyon Dam - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)the meta-theme of his book, The Monkey Wrench Gang. Using various characters in that book as a thinly veiled foil, Abbey expressed his own latent desire to eradicate Glen Canyon Dam.

Years before, in Desert Solitaire, Abbey wrote eloquently about a wilderness now submerged, hundreds of feet below the Lake Powell we know today. Following are his words.

Page 122, “We were exploring a deep dungeonlike defile off Glen Canyon one time (before the dam). The defile turned and twisted like a snake under overhangs and interlocking walls so high, so close, that for most of the way I could not see the sky.”

Page 152, “I know, because I was one of the lucky few (there could have been thousands more) who saw Glen Canyon before it was drowned, In fact I saw only a part of it but enough to realize that here was an Eden, a portion of the earth’s original paradise.”
Author Jim McGillis visible under the skipper's arm, prior to departure from Wahweap Marina, Lake Powell in 1965 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
Page 156, “That must be where Trachyte Creek comes in,” I explain; “if we had life jackets with us it might be a good idea to put them on now.” Actually our ignorance and carelessness are more deliberate than accidental; we are entering Glen Canyon…”

Page 157, “If this is the worst Glen Canyon has to offer, we agree, give us more of the same. In a few minutes the river obliges; a second group of rapids appears, wild as the first. Forewarned and overcautious this time, despite ourselves, we paddle too far…”

The lower reaches of Lake Powell, where the first Planet of The Apes movie was filmed, as seen in 1965 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Page 185, “Farther still into the visionary world of Glen Canyon, talking somewhat less than before - for what is there to say? I think we have said it all – we communicate less in words and more in direct denotations, the glance, the pointing hand, the subtle nuances of pipe smoke, the tilt of a wilted hat brim.”

Page 188, “The sun, close to the horizon, shines through the clear air beneath the cloud layers, illuminating the soft variations of rose, vermilion, umber, slate blue, the complex features and details, defined sharply by shadow, of the Glen Canyon Landscape.”

On Lake Powell in 1965, we approach the entrance to the flooded Glen Canyon - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Rainbow Bridge – By definition, a “natural arch” spans an area of dry land. In contrast, a “natural bridge” spans a watercourse. At remote Rainbow Bridge National Monument, a stone torus known as Rainbow Bridge is the most celebrated landform. Before Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, the only way to see Rainbow Bridge was on a river raft expedition. A visit there involved a long wet trip up or down the Colorado River, followed by a tedious, uphill hike at the end. Located almost fifty water-miles upstream from Glen Canyon Dam, Rainbow Bridge now resides in a short side canyon, off Lake Powell.

After our long boat ride from Wahweap Marina, near Page, Arizona, our skipper tied up at a floating dock. When the lake was full, the story went; A forty-foot excursion boat powers past us on the way to Rainbow Bridge, Lake Powell, Utah in 1965 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)lake water would rise almost to the base of Rainbow Bridge. In 1965, however, we had over two miles of hiking before cresting a ridge and seeing the immutable stone arch called Rainbow Bridge.

Other than a flood in the summer of 1983, Lake Powell has never been full. There are few 1983 photos showing lake water lapping near the base of Rainbow Bridge. Today, perennially lower lake levels call into question the dam’s main reason for being, which is to generate electricity. In late 2012, the U.S. Department of the Interior admitted what longtime observers of the Glen Canyon Dam have known for decades – that drought, climate change A Bertram 20 powerboat planes past our boat on the way to Rainbow Bridge, Lake Powell, Utah in 1965 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)and over-subscription of available water will result in permanently lower water levels in Lake Powell and throughout the Colorado River Basin.

In 1965, when I asked our skipper if he preferred the ease of lake travel to a rafting trip, he tactfully said that each method of conveyance had its advantages. He went on to say, he would have preferred that Glen Canyon stay as it had been before the dam. As it was, on our visit, we hiked to Rainbow Bridge over hot, dry land, just as Edward Abbey had done years before. Following are passages from Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, describing his raft trip down the Colorado River to Rainbow Bridge.
In the vastness of Glen Canyon, powerboats fade into the distance on the way to Rainbow Bridge, Utah in 1965 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
Page 186, “We pass the mouth of a large river entering the Colorado River from the east – the San Juan River. Somewhere not far beyond this confluence, if I recall my Powell rightly, is the opening to what he named Music Temple. “When ‘Old Shady’ sings us a song at night,” wrote Powell in 1869, “we are pleased to find that this hollow in the rock is filled with sweet sounds”.”

Page 188, “The river carries us past more side canyons, each of which I inspect for signs of a trail, a clue to Rainbow Bridge. But I find nothing, so far, though we know we are getting close.
Could this be John Wesley Powell's "Music Temple" as described in his 1868 journal? In 1965, this photo shows that it is about to be inundated by the waters of Lake Powell - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
Page 192, “Rainbow Bridge seems neither less nor greater than what I had foreseen. My second sensation is the feeling of guilt. Newcomb. Why had I not insisted on his coming? Why did I not grab him by the long strands of his savage beard and haul him up the trail, bearing him when necessary like Christopher would across the stream, stumbling from stone to stone, and dump him finally under the bridge, leaving him…

Page 193, “But I am diverted by a faint pathway which looks as if it might lead up out of the canyon, above Rainbow Bridge. Late afternoon, the canyon filling with shadows – I should not try it. I take it anyway, climbing a The author James McGillis approaching Rainbow natural Bridge, Utah in 1965 - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)talus slope.

Page 193, “From up here Rainbow Bridge, a thousand feet below, is only a curving ridge of sandstone of no undue importance, a tiny object lost in the vastness and intricacy of the canyon systems which radiate from the base of Navajo Mountain.

Page 239, “Through twilight and moonlight I climb down to the rope, down to the ledge, down to the canyon floor below Rainbow Bridge. Bats flicker through the air. Fireflies sparkle by the water-seeps and miniature toads with enormous voices clank and grunt and chant at me as I tramp past their ponds down the long trail back to the Rainbow Bridge, as seen from below in 1965 Kodak Ektachrome image - Click for lager image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)river, back to the campfire and companionship and a midnight supper.

From Wahweap Marina, near Glen Canyon Dam, to Rainbow Bridge is about sixteen miles, as the crow flies. On the lake, our circuitous canyon route was nearly three times as long. As we drank Cokes from steel cans along the way, the cognoscenti told us that we should punch a hole in the bottom of each can before throwing it in the lake. That way, the cans could sink, rather than bobbing half-full on the surface for years to come. Although a nationwide ethic of recycling was still decades away, I pictured snags of drowned trees far below, each festooned with Coke and beer can ornaments.

From 1965, it would be over a decade before Abbey’s motley cast of fictional characters wreaked havoc with infrastructure and land development throughout San Juan County, Utah. To read about those queasily exciting adventures in incipient eco-activism (some say eco-terrorism), please watch Rainbow Bridge, Utah, as seen form the trail above in 1965 Kodak Ektachrome image - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)for my upcoming treatise on Edward Abbey's book, The Monkey Wrench Gang. When posted, you will find it HERE.

By James McGillis at 05:27 PM | Colorado River | Comments (0) | Link

Blog Search

 →  Recent Posts

Snow in Death Valley National Park
The Colorado River's Demise - 2023
The Four Corners Region - Part 5
The Four Corners Region - Part 4
The Four Corners Region - Part 3
The Four Corners Region - Part 2
The Four Corners Region - Part 1
Mammoth Lakes, Summer 2020
Morro Bay, CA - Fire Season 2020
Camping at Panamint Springs, Part 2
Camping at Panamint Springs, Part 1
Camping at Mojave Preserve in 2020
Death Valley Winter Camping 2019
Edward Abbey & Friends at UNM Ch. 5
Edward Abbey & Friends at UNM Ch. 4
Edward Abbey & Friends at UNM Ch. 3
Edward Abbey & Friends at UNM Ch. 2
Edward Abbey & Friends at UNM Ch. 1
Planned Desecration of The Book Cliffs
Thompson Springs, Utah - History
Visit Historic Thompson Springs, Utah
Santa Susana Field Lab Contamination
Classmate Bob Lovejoy (1948 - 2018)
Titus Canyon and Titanothere Canyon
2018 - Is The Future a Mirage?
Return of the Moab Burro Crane
Moab - Desert Rocks Festival 2011
Moab, UT - Negro Bill Canyon Remains
Yosemite High Country Devastation
Furnace Creek - Death Valley, Calif.
Zabriskie Point - Death Valley, Calif.
Crescent Junction, Utah - New History
NTSB Final Report Omits Critical Data
Winter Camping in the Mojave Desert
2017 - Burbank Rose Parade Float
Sarah Thomas - World Record Swim
A Family Visit to Kaua'i, Hawaii in 1988
2016 - Cow Springs, AZ Trading Post
Metrolink - Meager Track Maintenance
'16 Beverly Hills Concours d'Elegance
It's Time to Audit Metrolink Operations
Ventura County - Deadly Rail Collision
Ventura County, CA - Rail Safety 2016
Metrolink Ignores Mismatched Brakes
Agencies Ignore Rail Safety Issues
Nevada - Vote Now to Bring Back Solar
Ventura County Rail Deaths Scandal
Google Pop Car- Rail Safety Plan
BNSF Locomotives on Metrolink Trains
2015 - Time to Phase Out Lake Powell
Navajo Power Plant Heat Island Effect
Of Mudflats and Methane Volcanoes
Metrolink Anti-Derailment Blade Failure
Metrolink to Spend $338 Million
The Glenn Steele Memorial Overpass
5th & Rice - A Deadly Railroad Crossing
The One, the Only - Plush Kokopelli
Metrolink Train Crash, A Personal Story
Moab, Utah - Lions Club Park - Part 2
Moab, Utah - Lions Club Park - Part 1
Deadly Crude Oil Trains Coming Soon
Metrolink Oxnard Train Collision Report
2015 Rare California Rain Barrels Help
So. California Lakes Soon to Disappear
C.Proietto - Cattolica, Cafe Eden Roco
Hollywood: "Violence is the New Sex"
2014 Spanish Valley Vineyards
Durango & Silverton Railroad Story
Is it Too Late to Save Moab, Utah?
BLM & SITLA - URLEA Subterfuge
Moab Pile to be "Moab Pit" - 2029
Moab in Springtime - May 2014
Old Mesquite, NV - Gone For Good
I-15 North - Mojave Desert Tour
Grand Co. Plans to Desecrate Site
Moab - County Plans Fail the Test
2014 - Quantum Leap in ATM Theft
Moab Kiley - Peaceful BLM Protest
Stop The BLM-SITLA Land Swap
Utah Recreational Land Exchange
Burro Cranes - A Complete History
Moab Burro at Seven Mile Canyon
Brightsource Solar's Flawed Design
Trend - Horsepower Mitigation Fees
Moab Rim Campark Sold in 2014
Durango, CO - Engine #478 - 1965
Durango, CO - Engine #476 - 1965
Red Lake Trading Post, Tonalea, AZ
Deconstruction at Cow Springs, AZ
Cow Springs, Navajo Art - 2013
Navajo/Hopi, New Energy Dilemma
Peabody Coal Stripmine Disappears
An Arizona River Dies in the Desert
Black Mesa Coal - Water & Power
2013 - The Great Western Drought
Homolovi State Park, AZ - No Ruins
C.Proietto Paints at Lago Maggiore
American Bison Herd Threatened
I-40, Twin Arrows - Both Old & New
Simi Valley Brush Fire - Air Power
I-40: Highway Tax Dollars At Work
Kristi Frazier - World Citizen Award
Sierra Nevada, CA - 2013 Drought
Desolation Canyon Wilderness Area
The Holbrook Basin Potash Project
Moab - Revisit Seven Mile Canyon
Moab - Greater Canyonlands N.M.
Thomas Kinkade - Yosemite Valley
C.Proietto Paints Lugano, Gandria
Paso Robles, CA - Wine Adventure
Colorado River Dine & Unwind Moab
Kodiak 100 --> Moab Charter Flight
The True Cost of Mineral Extraction
Moab Truck - 1950 Chevy 3100
Disappearance --> Reemergence
Edward Abbey - His Spirit Returns
Edward Abbey - Monkey Wrenching
Edward Abbey - Lake Powell 1965
Edward Abbey - Desert Solitaire 65
A New Message From AAMikael
C.Proietto Paints Bad Kreuznach
New Jersey - The New Atlantis?
Moab - A Rare Beech B-45 (T-34A)
Howell Mountain, CA - Winemaking
Oakville, CA - Robt. Mondavi Wines
Crescent Junction, UT - in 1955
Craig Childs - Apocalyptic Planet
Mammoth Lakes, CA - 1st. Snowfall
Mesquite, NV - A Disappearing Act
The Mystery of Hovenweep Road
Moab Airport - Canyonlands Field
Moab, UT - Save Ken's Lake Puddle
Jeeps & Downtown Abbey in Moab
Moab Valley vs. Spanish Valley, UT
Moab, Utah - Go Behind the Rocks
Moab Adventure Xstream Race '12
Face on Mars - Is it John Lennon?
C.Proietto - Paints The Dolomites
Moab Tower - The Wireless Story
Brendel, Utah - A History Mystery
C.Proietto - New Mystery Painting
Tsunami Risks Up in Crescent Bays
"Moab Native" Potash Comments
C.Proietto - And The Glory of Rome
L.A. to Australia, by 34-ft. Sailboat
Interstate I-70 East through Utah
Mesquite, NV - Opportunity Lost?
Las Vegas, NV "Drive-by" - I-15N
Ivanpah Valley, CA - Mega-Solar
Pearblossom Hwy. - Palmdale Road
C.Proietto - Venice Sunset, Sunrise
24-Hours of Moab 2012 to Happen
C.Proietto - A Portrait of the Artist
AOL & Yahoo Mail Getting Hacked
ATM Retail Technology - New & Old
C.Proietto - Solving An Art Mystery
Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA
Hollywood - To The Sign & Beyond
Hollywood - Legendary Paul Pink's
Kokopelli Credit Union - New ATM
#1 Google Ranking & How to Get It
C.Proietto - Two New Oil Paintings
LACoFD Truck 8 at Hollywood Bowl
I-405 Golden Crane Air Hazard
Beware: Hoax/Scam Phishing Sites
A Quantum Leap in Super PAC $$$
I-405 Mulholland Bridge Update
Moab Skydiving Video - May 2011
Tonopah Desert, AZ Thunderstorm
Anticline Overlook - Ancient Spirit
ATM Bank Robbery Now Easier Still
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
Chaco Canyon - Kin Klizhin Sunset
Chaco Canyon - Kin Klizhin Ruin
Chaco Canyon, Spirit of Lizard Man
Chaco Canyon, NM - Campground
White Mesa, Utah - Uranium Mill
Hidden Costs in Biofuels Revealed
Arches National Park Threatened
Moab Rail - The U. P. Potash Local
Toxic Purple Dust Covers Moab, UT
U.S. Highway 191 in Moab, Utah
Kindle Fire Tablet vs. Nook Tablet
Ken's Lake 2011 Update, Moab, UT
24-Minutes of Moab Kids Bike Race
24-Hrs. of Moab, The Final Sunset?
24-Hours of Moab 2011 Race Start
24-Hrs. of Moab Race Live Webcam
The Long Run - Eagles Tribute Band
Petrified Forest, Going, Going, Gone
Nuclear Dust Storm Hits Moab, UT
Moab Rainbow - August 1, 2011
C.Proietto - The Man From Amalfi
I-405 UCLA Rampage - 11/22/66
Moab Rim RV Campark - 2011
C.Proietto Paints the Amalfi Coast
C.Proietto - Modern Impressionist
I-405 Mulholland Drive Bridge
Moab Pile - Countdown to Disaster
Wigwam Village - Holbrook, AZ
Kathy Hemenway - World Citizen
Desert View Mobil - Needles, CA
Mojave Desert Transit in May 2011
Colorado River Basin At Risk - Ch.4
Holbrook, AZ Water Crisis - Ch. 3
Holbrook Basin, AZ Potash - Ch. 2
Little Colorado River Basin - Ch. 1
Port Orford, Oregon - Tsunami
Hope for Atlantis - Chapter 4
Future of Atlantis - Chapter 3
The New Atlantis - Chapter 2
Atlantis, Myth or Fact? - Chapter 1
Kevin Rutherford - Freightliner RV
WindSong - Ericson 35 Sailboat
Moab Pile - The Mill Tailings Train
Moab Pile - Here Comes the Flood
24-Hours of Moab 2010 - The Race
24-Hours of Moab 2010 - The Start
24-Hours of Moab 2010 - Pre-Race
Moab, Utah - Winter Snowstorms
Happy New Decade - 2011
Save Ken's Lake, Moab, Utah 2010
UPS Air - Moab, Utah Style
Crescent Junction & Brendel, Utah
Green River to Floy, Utah - Video
Moab Ranch - The Movie & Webcam
An Oregon Cascades Range Sunset
The Port at Port Orford, Oregon
Simi Valley, CA Two Live Webcams
Two New MoabLive.com Webcams
Ave. of the Giants, Humboldt, CA
Port Orford, OR - Of Bears & Deer
Goodbye Arizona - We'll Miss You.
Port Orford, OR - A Forest Home
Sun, Moon and the Chakras of Gaia
2010 Super Bowl Advertising
Navajo National Monument Sunset
California Redwoods Elk Herd
A New Decade - The 2010's Begin
Moab - Could Floods Happen Here?
Spanish Valley, UT - Wine & Water
24 Hours of Moab Race - 2009
CA - Rainforest or Dustbowl?
Edward Abbey House, Moab, UT
Kayenta, AZ to Blanding, Utah
U.S. Highway 89 N. to Navajoland
Quartzsite - Black Canyon City, AZ
Simi Valley, CA to Quartzsite, AZ
Phoenix, Moab, The Grand Canyon
Colorado River - A New Challenge
Moab, Utah - The Shafer Trail
2009 - Moab Live Webcam Update
Moab, Utah - Potash Road, Part 2
Moab, Utah - Potash Road, Part 1
SITLA Deal Threatens Uintah Basin
Moab Wildfire Near Pack Creek, UT
Moab Ranch - Plasma Flow Event
Mill Creek Canyon Hike - Part Two
Mill Creek Canyon Hike - Part One
Memorial Day 2009, Burbank, CA
A Happy Ending for the Moab Pile?
The Old Spanish Trail - New Again
Mesquite, Nevada - Boom or Bust
Larry L. Maxam - An American Hero
Winter Camping in the Desert 2009
Theory of Everything - Part Four
Theory of Everything - Part Three
Theory of Everything - Part Two
Theory of Everything - Part One
Canyonlands Field, Moab, Utah
Access New Energy Now - 2008
The Four Corners States - Part 5
The Four Corners States - Part 4
The Four Corners States - Part 3
The Four Corners States - Part 2
The Four Corners States - Part 1
BC Buckaroos in Panama
Elton John T-shirt, Now Available
Arches National Park Threatened
BC Buckaroos Are Heading South
San Francisco, A New Energy City?
Seven Mile Canyon, Craig Childs
Matheson Wetlands Fire, Moab, UT
24-Hours of Moab Bike Race Finish
24-Hours at Moab Bike Race, Start
New York - The New Atlantis
Translate to Any Language Now
Marina del Rey, Summer Weekend
Seattle Shines in the Summertime
Oregon Battles With Itself - 2008
The Motor Yacht, Princess Mariana
Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park
The Mojave National Preserve, CA
Navajo National Monument, AZ
La Sal Mountains Loop Road, UT
The Moab Rim, Above and Below
Colorado Riverway Recreation, UT
Hovenweep - Twin Towers Standing
Aztec, New Mexico - Ancient Ruins
Kin Klizhin Ruin at Chaco Canyon
The Spirit of Pueblo Bonito, NM
Chaco Canyon, NM Sand and Rain
Homolovi Ruins State Park, AZ
ATM Bank Robbery Made Easy
Outstanding World Citizens, Fiji
Planning an Archetype Party
Sir Elton John - The Lost Concert
Start Writing Your Own Blog
My Unification Theory - 2008
Frito-Lay Beach-Trash Explosion
The Great Attractor, Revealed
Vibrational Thought & String Theory
The Long Run - Eagles Tribute Band
2006 Midterm Elections, Revisited
The Lost Murals of Denis O'Connor
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 10
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 9
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 8
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 7
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 6
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 5
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 4
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 3
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 2
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 1
Save Natewa Bay, Fiji Islands
The Fiji Islands - Paradise Lost?
Face on Mars
How Water Helped Make The West
Yahoo! - Fighting Its Last Battle?
Helium Gas, Neither Earth nor Mars
Megatrend vs. Meganiche - 2007
German Hydrogen Bomb Ready
Passing The $100,000 Bill
Google Wins - Microsoft Withdraws
A.Word.A.Day, You Ought to Know
San Fernando Valley Winemaking
Divine Inspiration, Or Nearly So
Japanese Win The Space Race
2007 eCommerce - Made Easy
Discovering The Great Reflector
Navajo National Monument, Arizona
Moab, Utah Memories - 2007
Fall Color, Silverton, Colorado
Autumn Equinox in the Rockies
Hasta la Vista, Taos, New Mexico
Megatrends 2010 - The Book
The Quantum Leap, New Mexico
Chaco Canyon Memories 2007
Flame-Out in Phoenix, Arizona
Annals of Homeland Security '07
Quartzsite, AZ - RV Camping
The Quantum Leap Celebration
Welcome to my new weblog 2007!

Colorado River
Current Events
Fine Art
Moab, Utah
Mojave Desert
Personal Articles
Railroad Safety
South Pacific

‹‹ April 2024 ››
Wk M T W T F S S
14 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
15 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
16 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
17 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
18 29 30          

Please visit our other sites in the MoabLive network.


© 2007 JamesMcGillis.com - All rights reserved. | Contact Me | Privacy Policy | Sitemap | RSS | Atom | Admin | Design: Nicholas Savalas | Author | Publisher | Top