Saturday, October 1, 2005
The Lost World Of Glen Canyon
Dry years in the West have lowered the level of Lake Powell and revealed long-submerged canyons
I feel as though I'm traveling back through time as I round yet another bend in Davis Gulch, a tributary of the Escalante River in southern Utah. I'm descending deeper and deeper into a red-rock labyrinth, which hasn't seen the light of day for more than 30 years. Each new twist in the canyon walls reveals a succession of plant communities quickly reclaiming the newly exposed ground. Submerged beneath 60 feet of Lake Powell water just five years ago, the small clear stream at my feet now gurgles beneath a profusion of willows and eight-foot-tall cottonwood trees swaying in the breeze. Before making this trip, I had visions of a muddy slog through silt-clogged, tamarisk-choked canyon bottoms.
Lake Powell was created by the construction of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River just across the Utah border in Arizona in the early '60s. As the roiling waters of the Colorado River began to pool at the base of the cofferdam, they began to back up into the magnificent water-sculpted tributaries of Glen Canyon.
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