What was your best experience in the field covering this story?
The best thing about this assignment was simply getting the assignment. After my first trip to southern Utah more than two decades ago, I fell in love with the vast red-rock country's remote canyonlands. Over the years, I had returned numerous times to explore different parts of the state, both for work and for pleasure. I once paddled a canoe for more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) on Lake Powell, and I had hiked part of the Escalante. But there was so much I hadn't yet seen. When I received the call from my editor to go forth and explore parts of Glen Canyon that had been underwater since I was in junior high, I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed.
What was your worst experience in the field covering this story?
During my first foray to Lake Powell last spring, I spent a lot of time motoring a boat up various sinewy side canyons until I ran aground. From there, I would leave the boat and hoof it farther up the canyons until I hit the high-water mark, usually two or three miles (three or five kilometers) away. Very few of the canyons had trails, and I had to bushwhack through some rough terrain.
After a week of this, I went home to get ready for a second trip I would take overland. Unfortunately, on my drive home I started to itch pretty badly and realized after a phone call or two that I had been tromping through some pretty mean patches of poison ivy. As embarrassing as it is to admit now, I had no idea there was poison ivy in the desert. It was an uncomfortable couple of weeks.
What was your quirkiest experience in the field covering this story?
I had been exploring Glen Canyon country with someone who knew it well, and we had made plans to meet photographer Michael Melford at a side canyon my guide, Chris Peterson, had chosen. Unfortunately, Chris cut his foot badly during a morning hike and—just as the wind picked up and dark clouds blew in—had to drive home to get stitches. After dropping him off, I pinned the throttle down on my boat and tried to beat the incoming storm and make my rendezvous with Michael. I was orienting with my maps flapping in the wind and was getting concerned about the deteriorating weather as well as the meeting time.Suddenly, the plans seemed a little too loose: Meet a man I had never seen at a place I had never been to, located at the confluence of a side creek and one of the Colorado River's tributaries in the middle of this watery wilderness. But I found the isolated meeting point on a map and actually arrived on time.Michael was there, but he had expected to meet two of us. He appeared confused until I said, "Michael?" He replied, "Dan?" It felt like a very Stanley- and-Livingstone moment.