Technically speaking, the first several miles of Sol’s Redrock Backpacker, Southwestern, Utah trip are not too challenging. What does exist of the Virgin River is underground at this point, creating a compact and flat dry river bed. Occasionally we would opt to follow the 4-wheel drive road instead, which would take us up small sand dunes to benches covered with wild flowers and desert sage. The easy terrain gave us time to adapt to the extra weight we were now carrying.
Eventually the river appeared, and as we worked our way further downstream, spring inflows combined to create a respectable stream of cool, clear water. It was around this point that we began to encounter quicksand. “Quicksand!” the person at the front would yell out. Already sucked-in above the ankles and sinking further still, it was too late for this poor altruistic soul. But at least they could warn the others. Or call for help, depending on your interpretation of the distress call.
I don’t think any of the five of us escaped the death grip of quicksand at one point or another, including myself. At one point, in water already nearing the level of my upper thigh, with my pack resting not much higher and a deep pool of water to my left, I took one step and felt the water-logged quicksand suction around my foot and attempt to engulf my entire leg. I faked a smile and warned everyone else to hop out onto the bank to avoid this patch. Then I clung to the exposed root system of a tamarisk lining the bank and spent the next 10 minutes dragging myself out.
I would have felt like a mocking voyeur had I taken pictures of everyone in their moment of distress in the quicksand. What kind of guide would I be? Especially Kathleen, whose steady river legs were seemingly attacked by the stuff around every corner. But as I stood by and watched tiny Amie nearly disappear into a giant vat, right next to a pool that would have buried her up to her neck -and she still wasn’t crying – I couldn’t resist. I pulled out the camera and took this shot.
Then there is the shot of Fritz lunging under the fallen tree with 50 pounds on his back (However much that beast weighed, I forget. He was older than all of us, but left no piece of gear behind), whose dedication and trust in his creative trainers BOTHSU and balance board training during the last few months finally was tested. AND proven, I might add.
Click to view pictures of Sol’s Zion National Park Backpacking Trip: Redrock Backpacker.