Day of kayak play @ Antelope Canyon on Lake Powell AZ

We set an alarm today to make sure we were awake and  ready to roll down to Glen Canyon on Lake Powell - I kayaked the Antelope Canyon back in 2013 and was forced to vacate the canyon when severe weather hit.. and we were SO close to the end!! To this day, finishing kayaking the Antelope Canyon has been on my radar - and today was the day!! We decided it would be wise to eat something before hitting the water in the excessive heat watch so we swung by Subway quick. While sitting there, a bus pulled up and several Asian tourists exited. Our bikes were parked under a storefront that was vacant, so that they were in the shade. A few of the tourists were eying up the bikes when I noticed one person pull up a pant leg and walk towards Shelly's bike. Before I even knew that I was reacting, I was up and opening the door to rush outside. Once on the sidewalk I yelled "HEY! Get off the bike! Never touch a bike that's not yours!!" in a stern voice (I even surprised myself with how serious I sounded1) The human got off the bike quickly while the other 3 people in the party kept saying 'so sorry' over and over. Makes me wonder how many times people sit on the bikes when we don't know it. I need to have a NO TOUCH sticker made for my windshield - printed in the same amount of languages that official forms use. After eating we headed to the Antelope Point Marina to rent kayaks. The entry fee to the Glen Canyon Rec Area was a steep $25 per vehicle. One bike = One vehicle. Thankfully we had purchased the annual national park pass for $80 - we have now saved well over what we paid for the pass!!!

We unload at the marina and get our swim gear together, then walk down the steep walkway onto the docks and out to the rental boat, where we handed over cash, a copy of my ID, and filled out all of the paperwork for kayak rentals. There's am excessive heat warning in place today - 113!

The guy ahead of us in line was getting through the ppwk pretty quickly.. but my heart sank when the gal asked how many kayaks he wanted... and he said 7. It was late morning and I was worried that there would be no kayaks left for us! We get up to order our kayaks and wait as they walkie talkie' d to see if there were 2 left. WHEW! There were 3!!!! Thank goodness! Utter defeat had we not gotten a kayak. We get briefed on directions and rules and we set out on our way to Antelope Canyon.

We had to veer left towards a series of buoy's and paddle between the opening to get to the main waters. From there it was simple - a left,  and a left- then a left, another left, and one more left. EASY! I can remember those instructions! There are a number of kayakers, swimmers, paddle boarders, and boaters out on the water today. There is an excessive heat watch (113 for a high!) in effect for the area, so I thought that the water would feel amazingly refreshing! While it was nice, it was also a hot 78 degrees - so not a lot of cooling effects!

But the water was just as I remember it - crystal clear with a bright green/teal/blue glow. The rocks that surround the waters were variations of red and white. The beaches along the sides were sometimes rock, sometimes sand - but always had the same red tint. We paddle and paddle and paddle and are cruising right along when we turned off the main waters into the channel. There, it was much quieter - a few kayaks, some swimmers, but no boats and no wake.
The canyon walls are 100' above us on both sides - the sun glowing in between the rock walls as it was high noon. There was barely a breeze once we turned into the channel way, but the scenery was so stunning we temporarily forgot how hot it was. As we paddled, we took in the sights - the rock canyon walls, the cutouts in the canyon walls, the people jumping off the rocks from high above, the birds making their presence known from way up high, and the sound of little bells tinkling away - aka the shells that had attached to the canyon walls that were fluttering in the breeze.
We made our way to the end of the canyon waterway - the water is really low right now, so the end of the canyon was dried up - well, ok, it was all mud -
  so I parked the kayak, got out and started walking down the remainder, as my feet sunk and slipped in the thick mud left behind by the waters.

 I walked quite a ways and could still see a long way into the area - which was not getting narrower. The flies were biting something fierce and the earth bed where the canyon waters once were were now all dried up and getting really hot to the touch. I turned around and headed back to the kayaks, happy to have made it to the end! We gear back up and head back to the mainland.

We turned the 3rd corner in a series of probably 16 corners and suddenly the wind kicked up, aiming directly at us. It kicked up so fast that the canyon waters had whitecaps and it was pretty difficult to move - regardless of how hard we were paddling. It felt like I was making 3 feet of leeway to every 14' backwards. The wind was bouncing off the canyon walls so hard that we couldn't tell which side would be the lessor evil to get out of the wind. We were bouncing around, side to side, up and down, and barely making progress, aside from our muscles getting really tired really quickly! We look around and there are people in kayaks hunkering down along the sides of the canyon walls - some still in their kayaks, others pulled their boats out of the water to wait it out. We took a couple of breathers, but it was way harder to start paddling again after stopping - so we just tried to not quit! People were watching us paddle by and I can only imagine that they thought we were either a) hella strong or b) dumb. We just kept moving on - albeit slowly and crooked!  The rain clouds loomed overhead, and I Was excited for it to rain hard, because that meant instant little waterfalls would come over the canyon walls. Well, that rain never came, but the wind and the waves sure did! We rounded yet another corner and there were roughly 20 people and their kayaks scattered amongst the rock area. As we got closer, we heard "Get off the water! Lightning!" Not one to be afraid, I had planned on keeping going, until we rounded that very corner and were slaughtered by even heavier winds. We reluctantly pulled our vessels aside and hopped out, waiting for the wind to tame down some and the lightning to end.

 I find it funny that we rush to get off the water in lightning storms - even though we are in plastic boats with plastic paddles.. but yet we ride metal motorcycles with flammable gas through the very same storm... irony!  Once the dark ominous clouds move past, we put the boats back in the water and keep on paddling. This time the wind is not letting down. It felt like we were making very little progress but we weren't going to be defeated! As we rounded each corner, there were people asking if we were OK, 'rescue boats' came by to collect people who didn't want to, or couldn't, paddle themselves out. The boats would pass us empty and then come back by us with 8-10 people and the same number of kayaks up top. The rescue boat crew asked us 3 times as they made their numerous rounds, if we wanted to get in the boat - each time we declined saying we were a ok. There was a small part of me that wanted to hop on the boat on one occasion - but I had let this canyon beat me the first time and there was no way I was going to let it beat me this time! We rounded the last corner of Antelope Canyon and were back on main waters, when suddenly, the winds came blasting from the left side, at one point nearly capsizing my kayak because the waves were so big. We ended up being literally pushed to the right into  little cove - we had no choice because we had zero control of our kayaks at that point. We pulled the kayak up on shore and waited it out. Storms come in super fast over Lake Powell and they exit in the same fashion.
Once the rain died down and the winds seem to calm some, we started back out to home base. We hadn't made it 20' out of the little protective cove when the rescue boat once again came by. This time, they didn't say anything, I just gave a thumbs up, and they continued on their path. We were passed by a jet ski towing a canoe back to the marina - with the canoe passengers saying how sorry they felt for us. I looked at it like we were having fun, tackling a big challenge by mother nature, and getting a good workout! Eventually the winds died way down and we were able to resume control of our kayaks. The sun returned and we were on the final home stretch towards the marina. By this time, we hadn't seen another kayak since way back in Antelope Canyon - I am pretty sure we were the only fools to not get rescued out. But we felt accomplished by not doing so!!!!

We made it back tot he Marina in one piece. As we checked in, the rescue boat docked and a couple of the passengers made comments of "Oh good, you girls made it!!!" - As though the passengers on the rescue boat didn't have faith that we would survive! Never once did I think we wouldn't make it - I just thought a few times that it might be tomorrow before we paddled back in!!!  It was a super fun day off the bikes and in the water! Back to the bikes we go - headed towards Bryce Canyon. We made it there just as the sun had set - seeing numerous REALLY big Antelope, we were happy to be parked at a hotel just as darkness took over. We are exhausted and hungry!