Archive for the ‘Rivers’ Category

Prepare for the worst…

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

The trip that Lee and I are planning will be unique in our 18 years of running rivers together. This will be our first time going down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon with out back up. It will be just the two of us in one boat. Sounds romantic doesn’t it? It could be if all goes well. A lot can go wrong on a river like that. We are taking some precautions. We are packing is a major first aid kit (the Park Service recommends one), I am trained as a Wilderness First Responder, we are taking along a satellite telephone which is pricey for two people ($320.00), and we are taking two river survival kits in case we get separated from our boat in an over board incident. The kits will clip onto our life vests when we go through the big stuff and will contain what one would need to survive for 2-3 days on shore alone until another party comes along. The Park service tells us that during the week we are launching there will be one party launching every day until March 1 and then 2 launches a day. There should be enough traffic that help wouldn’t be more than a day or two away.

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On the left is the assembled kit. On the right are the components which are (L-R): Small NRS Sea-Stow dry bag, 3600 calorie survival bar, whistle, LED flashlight, space blanket, signal mirror, waterproof matches, fire starter stick, alcohol for starting wet wood, wand warmers, water purification tablets, and a collapsible water bottle.
Of course we won’t need any of this stuff, but that is what insurance is for.

Putting a strap handle on a 20 mm ammo can.

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

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When we started gearing up for river running in the early nineties we bought a bunch of 20 mm “rocket boxes” to contain various supplies and to carry “solid human waste” off the river. W named all of our boxes. The boxes for food and such got names of our favorite people, names like Georgie, Gerry Garcia and so on. The poop cans got names of less favorite persons, usually some politician who’s record on river and wilderness issues we found to be lacking.
These are great dry boxes and are the standard in the river running community. I have thought for a long time that having a handle on the top would be a fine thing. I am always banging and scraping my knuckles while trying to get a 20 mm can out of a drop hatch. After numerous applications of Mom’s Stuff the scrapes finally are put right. A handle on the top of the can would also allow for carrying two at once in a balanced way that would not put undue stress on my lower back.
In this post I will show what I came up with.

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I start by drilling two 1/4 inch holes through the lid where I want the straps to attach.

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Using a propane torch I heat a 20 penny nail and burn holes in the strip of nylon webbing I will use for the strap handle.

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This is the hardware I will use to attach the handle. Starting on the left is a 1/4 inch stainless steel machine bolt, a 1/4 inch flat washer, two 1/4 inch rubber washers and a 1/4 inch locking nut.

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After placing the flat washer on the bolt I thread the strap on followed by the rubber washer.

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I apply a small amount of a liquid gasket product or silicon rubber to the threads of the bolt.
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The neat thing I discovered is that the 1/4 machine bolt fits so tight that I have to screw the bolt into the hole in the lid and it sort of taps its self in.
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After fitting the other rubber washer onto the bolt as it sticks through the bottom of the lid I smear more liquid gasket material in the threads and tighten on the locking nuts.

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There is the first finished handle. I waited over night and tested it by submerging the whole box for several minutes in my spa. It is water tight.

Cataract Canyon July 2009

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

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Right after our Grand Canyon charter trip this year Tour West asked me if I would lead a trip in Cataract Canyon. Louisa and Steve B were on the crew as well as our old friend Andy Weenig. It was four nights on the river and a lot of fun. The passengers were just great. We are thinking about putting togther a five to six night trip for sometime next summer with an emphisis on hiking. Contact me if this sounds interesting. Our last charter in Cat was a lot of fun. Here is a photo by passenger Peter Parker. Don’t ask me why the groover can is in the foreground.
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The crew.
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The people.
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The place.
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The hikes

Grand Canyon Charter June 2009

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

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We have been home from our 2009 June river trip for two and a half weeks. It has taken me a while to get the photos up as I have been out on another river trip and busy trying to get caught up here at home. It was a sweet trip with Lee, Louisa and me on crew with Steve Bocagno as well. Here are few images worth a thousand words each to give you a sense of the adventure. We are currently booking for our 2010 june trip.
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Lee’s brother Marc joined us with his wife Ruth, her sister Louise and Marc and Ruth’s daughter Sarah.
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Paul Bakkom came with his son Erik.
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Susan Weeks and Mark Conley and their friend Judy Stone joined us from Colorado.
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Julia came to us by way of Tour West. She was a fine addition.
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Paul and Erik hanging out. The canyon is a great family place.
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Are we having fun yet? Joe leads Team Bedrock on a tour of the left side of everyones favorite obstacle. Can you tell that the boat got COMPLETELY full? In this photo the boat is just coming down from a mighty highside effort by the crew. Also check out how quickly Steve Boccagno got up on top of Bedrock with a throw rope. It is nice to have that kind of people backing you up on the crew.
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In the eddy below Bedrock Joe finds out how hard it is to move a boat full of water as the team bails.
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Team Bedrock at Owl Eyes beach.
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Joe catc hes a nap at the Deer Creek Patio later that day.
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Hanging out at Doris camp after the Bedrock fun.
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Louisa engaging in a little chub petting during a lunch break at 60 mile rapids.
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Who needs dishwashers?
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Lee and Sarah lead the Diaper Train at the Little Colorado.
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Not only can she clean a peanut butter knife she can make great Freedom Toast.
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Marc caught this heron and digitized it.
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“No s**t, there I was…” That is how all good boatman stories start.
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“If you take that picture I am going to stick this carrot in you.”
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The nightly game of pick up sticks.
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Petting fish….kissing rocks, what is next?
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Louisa Becker, our hero, hiking Havasu nine months after bilateral knee replacement surgery.
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I don’t know, it just happened.
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Why are these canyoneers smiling? The picture was shot at the shady ledges below Lava Falls.
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When the going gets tough, the tough find a rock and pass out on it.
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Stepping into North Canyon.
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The pool at North canyon.
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The true happy hour.
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Reaching for it.
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Actually the only reason Lee gets to come is because she looks so good on the front tube of the boat.
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After the coffee, the ecstacy.
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Oh gosh, not Tuna Creek again?
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After the nap at Blacktail.
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Would you let this guy row you down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon?
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Cousins.
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Erik catching some quiet time at Matkatamiba.
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My new Black Diamond Mega Lite came in handy when it tried to rain one night.
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Marc snapped this amazing image at Havasu. The Grand Canyon makes everyone into a better photographer.
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Sarah resting up for more fun at Last Chance camp.
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Team Havasu demonstrating the Monkey dance that got us off the rock in the top of Havasu Rapids.
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The game.
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This was the Bennion Grand Canyon charter trip 2009.
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Floating to the chopper pad the last morning.
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Hiho Silver….away.

Work and Play

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Last week the current edition of Ceramics Monthly arrived. With all I have going on preparing for another river trip and getting the garden whipped into shape I am surprized that I had time to look at it at all. Of course I was delighted to see Kevin and Linda Crowe’s words in the Comment section. I read with some interest the focus on working potter’s titled “Work and Play:The Potter’s Life”. The article features the self written expressions of eight studio potters several of whom are old and new friends of mine. It was very interesting reading their various approaches and thoughts about this thing we do. It reminded me of the time when I was a lot younger and just had recently moved to Spring City. I’d say it was 1977 or so. My neighbor Lonnie Brewer who then ran the little filling station in town asked me as he checked my oil and cleaned my windshield (Yes, that was still going on here then.) what my line of work was. I told him that I was setting up a pottery shop. He cocked his head to one side and mused “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to play for a living.
Perhaps he was right, potting is a form of play for many. Lots of folks wait until retirement to pick it up. My endocrinologist and his wife make pottery on evenings and weekends and attend a workshop somewhere almost every summer. I have not seen their work but I am sure it is done for the right reason, love.
My career in clay began while I was studying developmental psychology and early childhood education in college and took a potting class to unwind. I am still unwinding I guess. Lee advised me when we were first married that I should think about going into ceramics as a major. She observed that when I came out of my education and psych classes that I was all knotted up and that when I had been kicking it (pun intended) in the pot shop I was relaxed and looked a lot more like the guy she had fallen in love with.
I remember asking my mother when I was about nine years old why it was I had to eat all my food, do homework and certain household chores that I found unappealing. I really felt that life should be spent doing things one wanted to do whether they were work or play.
I am afraid that that sentiment has become a defining element in my adult life. I busy myself with things that I find fun. Not all aspects of potting are as fun as others. Throwing cups is a gas while butchering wood is a bit more like work, but it is all part of what it takes and are all a form of working on my stuff. On the river rowing a big boat into Lava falls is as good as it gets while cleaning the crappers at the end of the trip is less romantic. In my garden planting, harvesting and eating are pure fun, weeding is less so. This morning I was shoveling fresh horse manure out of the corral so I will have compost next year in the spring when I need it. On Fridays I like to hang it up and go sit with murderers , rapists and various other felons because it feeds me and them. Last night I spent a couple of hours splitting large boulders into smaller more manageable blocks of stone for landscaping. Bursitis not withstanding, it was a lot of fun. I wish I had picked quarryman and mason skills a bit earlier in life.
One common aspect of each of the narratives in the CM piece was a breakdown of time spent on ceramics into potting, firing, marketing and bookkeeping. I was surprised at how much these other artists spend on the marketing and bookkeeping end of things. In my last post I talked about how I market my work. I asked Lee to give me a sense of how much of the time I spend on ceramics goes to those things. Her response was “About one percent.” Because my marketing is almost all out of my own front door I don’t spend much on packing, shipping, keeping track of inventory on consignment, traveling to shows and fairs or dealing with galleries. I check the shop (always open) once a day when I am not working there. I spend an hour once a quarter logging sales for tax purposes. Once a year I spend a day or two writing our newsletter and gathering photos. Lee will spend another couple of days on the computer designing the rag. In January I’ll spend another couple of days going through our filed receipts and statements organizing information for our accountant to generate a 1040 and related forms. Lee makes the deposits and balances the checking account. Once in a blue moon I’ll pack and ship a pot to someone who has contacted me from a distance wanting a piece. I don’t think one percent is too far off.
I don’t know if this is a better way. It is just what I do. I don’t make as many pots a some of the people in this article. My time on the river, in the garden and in jail takes me away from the studio. I go there when I need to restock the shelves or when I have a request. I’d say I spend eight months of the year all told making and firing pots and that is enough.

Lets go boating: Cataract Canyon

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

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Lee and I have organized a river run through Cataract Canyon in Canyonlands National Park for July of 2013. The trip will be outfitted by Tour West. Here is link to their web page detailing the trip.
The price for this adventure is $1000.00+tax.

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Here is some of what is typical of the river in Cataract Canyon. During spring run off the rapids can be daunting. By July and August the mighty Colorado has settled down into a fun, family friendly ride. As you can see the visuals are not too bad either.
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This is a camping trip. Camp life is one of the best things about river running. You get the wilderness experience that is usually only accessible with backpacking and you get all of the comforts that a boat can carry. Expect exceptional food. Lee and Joe do the menus and they are great. Special food needs can be accommodated.
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Did someone mention hiking? This river takes you into the heart of Canyonlands National Park. The hiking is world famous. Or you can just sit in the shade with a book or crossword puzzle. It is all good.
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Then there is the water.
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Can you put yourself into this picture? That smile will be on your face and you will have some sweet memories to take with you.

A Christ-mas story.

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

In 2002 I got a permit to run the Grand Canyon for a month. We launched on December 13 planning to be at Phantom Ranch on Christmas day so we could call our daughters Zina and Louisa in Ithaca, New York. Zina was there serving a LDS mission and happened to be stationed in the same town where Louisa lived.
Our river trip was small, four boats and nine people. As we traveled down the river I gaged our trajectory to get us to P.R. on the 25th of December.
On December 24th We scouted Hance Rapids in the early afternoon and ran it. As I floated free of the tail waves I began setting up to miss “son of Hance” by working my way right as the current was taking me toward those rapids. My then 15 year old daughter Adah asked me if I was watching the large flat and almost submerged rock we were drifting into. As I
looked to where she was pointing we ran up on it and stopped. We were not wrapped, just beached on this gently sloping rock. I was running lead so the other three boats pulled off above as we began planning strategy to get off. Luckily we had a hand held radio set and were able to converse with the rest of the party on shore. They got a long rope out to us and tried a couple of different Z-drags with no success. We worked on this for a couple of hours as my wife and the two teen aged girls on my boat got progressively colder and the sun worked it’s way behind the rocks. It was decided to try a different type of leverage. We ran the long line from my bow through a pulley on shore to the bow of another 18 foot boat that was rowed out into the current. This worked much better and with some jumping around on our part we edged
off the rock and back into the water.
By now it was 3 p.m. and we should have made camp at Grapevine or
Zoroaster, but being determined to get to the camp at Cremation Creek just above Phantom Ranch for a Christmas layover we pushed on and ran 85 mile rapids in near darkness. Ron Smith was running last and was a bit behind us as he was thrown from his boat. He had no passengers and it was a little tense as we tried to get back to him and gain control of his boat. The real hero was Shawn Dalrimple who got him in out of the water and rescued his boat. We
pulled into the lower Cremation camp in total darkness and set up camp. My wife was pretty shook up by Ron’s swim and went right to bed while we all got dinner on and decorated a tamarisk with tinsel and hung stockings from it’s branches. The day’s work was a big lesson to me in safety before all other concerns. Having a swimmer in the dark on winter trip
is a scary as it gets.
The next day Lee was feeling better. And we rowed over to Roy’s Beach and hiked down stream to P.R. for some fun at the Phantom Ranch cantina and phone calls to our girls in New York. On the way up to the Canteen I ran onto Bob and
his wife. Pam. It turns out they had heard that we were going to be at P.R. on Christmas and had called in and gotten a cancellation for a cabin there. Being the good Jew that he is Bob had brought gifts and a Christmas cake just for us. The best of all was when he offered the girls a shot at a hot shower. This was day 12 and when the
women emerged from the bath house they fairly glowed. I being a tough
old river rat had just bathed in the river every few days when I could no longer stand myself.
We invited our friends over to Cremation Creek and shared a totally Kosher dutch oven ham dinner that couldn’t be beat. Gifts were exchanged all around and it was as good a holiday as I have ever had. Later at school when Adah was asked by friends what her best gift was this year she said “A hot shower”.

Climbing out of the Abyss

Monday, October 13th, 2008

I returned a week ago from the last Grand Canyon trip of the season. It was a sixteen day trip with 12 passengers. The people were all friends before the trip so there was not the usual break in period. I had a great time but did return with more aches and pains than usual. I’ll need to pay attention to getting and staying in shape over this winter. After all I am 56.
While I was gone our charter trip in the Grand Canyon continued to fill up and Lee got the deposit in to Tour West for me. We have 12 passengers on so far with room for four more. If any are interested I would recommend very quick action, ie. get hold of me now.
I have spent the past week working on the stone for Lee’s studio/barn project. It is going along slowly but well. We will move the stone from Gunnison to Manti on Friday this week and will cut it as soon after that as we can so I can start laying stone. I can’t wait.
Here are a few images I snapped in the Canyon this trip.
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Listening to J.J. Cale, Any Way the Wind Blows

Dory Rescue

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

On or about April 22 a dory was parked in the right side of Deubendorf Rapid in Grand Canyon. We arrived there to camp just as the park rangers were preparing to extract the craft. Apparently the boaters and other rangers had tried unsuccessfully to get the boat out at the time that it was pinned. When we got there it had been on the rock for about ten days.
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Evening of May second with 15K cfs running through the dory.
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I think I heard a math whiz say that the boat had something like 40 tons of pressure on it from the river. If that is the case the Aluminum dory gets the prize for durability.
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In the morning the parkies got busy pretty early taking advantage of the lower night time flows.
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Cool hi-tech dry suits and radio equipped helmets.
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The whole operation was conducted with the utmost attention to safety. The guy down stream has a river board, throw rope and is patched into the radio system.
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A tight line is used to move people and gear between shore and the wreck.
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The boat’s owner, who has had to extract this thing before, suggested to the park service that they use a pry bar with their winch to jiggle the boat off the rock.
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The rangers hooked the stern to a big battery operated winch pulling directly toward the shore.. The bow also had a manual winching system pulling up stream.
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When the hatches could be opened gear was hauled ashore on the tight line.
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The ranger on board holds up the prize. It is not known if the rescue operation would have been attempted if this beverage was not known to be on board.
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As soon as they could get the up stream gunwale out of the water the boat was bailed out as much as possible using buckets and a hand operated bilge pump.
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After unloading and bailing the dory was winched the rest of the way in to shore.
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It was a truly strange sight to see this great old boat flying out of the canyon.

River miles

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

Just back from another Grand Canyon Field Institute trip through the GC on the Colorado River. The past week has been a blur of glazing pots, loading the kiln, firing and planting more garden. Then there are the honey-do’s. I am taking a much needed day of rest (Sunday) and will be starting the firing cycle again on Monday in preparation for the Heritage Day sale on May 24. After that we will be moving Lee’s studio over here from our old place, more gardening, a big stone moving party on May 31 and starting to prepare and pack for the next GC trip which will be our charter.
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Rigging at Lee’s Ferry April 22.
THe GCFI trip was great as usual. I worked with people who I love and respect and the guests were above average. The Canyon is always terrific. The people are what makes the trip. The flowers were outrageous after the winter rains. The wind was hard and usually up-canyon, but what do you expect in April? It was a fairly cool trip temperature wise. I think I slept inside my bag every night and wore a cap to bed a lot of the time. The Canyon is always wonderful.
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Christa Jane Sadler, our trip leader, in one of her typical lecture poses. She is passionate about the river, the canyon and the geology.
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The thorough and thoughtful botanist and boatman, Gary Bolton.
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Greg Woodall Has been on the river for several decades and teaches a type of archeology that is heavy on ethnobotany.
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Chris Denker came down from Alaska for his first time through GC rowing baggage.
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The junior member of the crew and first timer Ben “Benovich” Anderson rowed bags also.
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THe trip, as mentioned, was a GCFI class so there were lots of lectures every day. Here Greg is going on about old time Indians at Hilltop Ruin.
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Gary talking plant identification at Whitmore Wash.
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Christa’s famous beach playdooh diorama lecture on the formation of Grand Canyon is a high light of every GCFI trip.
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The Brittle Bush flowers give the Tonto Platform a yellow tinge in this view from the Inner Gorge.
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Lots of wild critters running around. This little Collared Lizard was up Stone Creek.
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Chuckwalla
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Pulling into camp at Clear Creek.
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Smoke on the water and fire in the sky…April 29 some campers let their fire get away and 2K acres burned on the South Rim. As we rowed against killer upstream winds into Hance Rapids the sun was obscured giving the whole scene an otherworldly feel.
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Linda Parr and CJ being cute on a hike.
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In early March the BuRec released 40K second feet of water in an attempt to build beaches. This one at Little Nankoweep was a success. At other places camps were diminished or rendered too steep to use.
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Somewhere in Grand Canyon this little pot sits undisturbed since it was set down a thousand years ago.
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Marble Canyon reflections.
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Bruce and Edna stunned to silence by another of CJ’s blathers.
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Pat could make a good boatman…..with a lot of practice.
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Mike Anderson (here with CJ) is a regular feature on GCFI river trips. He just retired from a career as Park Historian for GCNP.
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Blacktail.
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Big water is not the primary reason I return to the Canyon but it sure adds to the experience. Benovich breaks through the Vee Wave at Lava Falls here.
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Denker gets lost in the foam right of the Ledge Hole.
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CJ still afloat after getting slapped hard.
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Gary coming out of the chute.
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Greg getting whammed in the Vee.
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Yolanda’s grin about says it all.