My place is Glen Canyon, Utah, the home of Lake Powell. My place is the mighty Colorado River dammed up, restricted. My place is as magical as it is tragic. And my place, to me, is the most special place on earth.
I grew up here. My summers were full of consecutive Lake Powell trips with my parents, and their friends, and their friends’ kids–who are my friends. My springs and falls contained three day weekends, when my parents would excuse me from school, so that we could spend an extra day in our personal paradise. Even when my parents split up, and their friends split up, and kids grew too busy to go, my Dad and I continued to visit. Now my dad has passed away, and more than ever I feel the absolute specialness of this place.
Ethically, I have a problem with Lake Powell. I am a river runner who values a Wild and Scenic River above all else. I’ve run the Grand Canyon (which is only thirteen miles downstream of the dam) three times and hope to again, many more times in the future. I fear for the health of the Great Wonder of the World just downstream. I hope that one day the Glen Canyon dam that holds back the force of one of the greatest rivers on Earth will cease to exist.
Lake Powell attracts the less adventurous types, the ones who need everyday comforts in the wild, and the partiers, people who don’t understand how important it is to not leave a trace. I’ve seen side canyons full of floating trash. I’ve carried boatloads of trash bags back to the marina for proper disposal. I wonder how many of those folks will come to see the Glen Canyon after the dam disappears. For now though, whether there was a dam and a lake or a free-flowing river, I’d go to Glen Canyon.