Archive for April 11th, 2010

The Dream Trip: Camp 7, March 5

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

The canyon around mile 70 is wide open so the sun was on us early. The light was just as stunning as the night before. We wanted to get out early so we could possibly catch Mike Glassgow’s group to run the gorge. Breakfast was quick and simple, oatmeal. We were on the water by 8:30 and found Mike’s group holed up at Cardenas Creek a half mile below us on river left. They were OK with us running with them so we went ahead with the plan of waiting for them above Hance Rapid. We ran Unkar and Nevills with no incident and pulled off the water on a nice beach below Nevills on river right. I napped while Lee went for a walk. after about 45 minutes the other group showed up. They scouted and ran left. Being a creature of habit (and thinking the water was way too low for the left run) we scouted from the right bank. They ran in two groups. Mike lead off making a pretty neat run on the right. Some of his followers seemed to bump and grind a bit. We ran after their first group and made the right entry pulling into the “duck pond”, pivoting and pushing hard to the left. There was enough water that I exited the duck pond by dropping over the pour over formed by the rocks on the down stream side. I was able to reach over and touch the “Whale Rock” with my left oar. In other words the run went as I had hoped. I have had some adventures at Hance like getting stuck in the eddy behind the large pink rock on the left run with two first time teenaged boatmen coming down on me from behind and running over the rock that divides the right tongue twice. It was nice to have it go well especially with an audience.
We headed downstream ahead of the others planning to run with them until were were all past Sockdolager and Grapevine. At about 11:30 Lee spied a nice little beach on river right about mile 78. She suggested we pull over and make it a lunch spot. I figured that running those other rapids without backup would be OK so we did. As Lee explored the spot she announced that it was camp. Above the little beach that was big enough to support our kitchen set up was a small cave with a flat sandy bottom. The sun =was on the spot and it felt like a great place for a half over.
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It was such a perfect little camp we decided to call it Booh Booh Camp in honor of our spoiled rotten little wiener dog who sometimes goes by that name. Sometimes I tell Booh he is “the very best one”. This camp was easily the very best one we found. Booh (his real name is Andy) came into our lives sort of by way of the Grand Canyon. IN 2002 I drew a permit to run the Canyon for thirty days starting December 13. I wanted Lee to come along. She wouldn’t go for that long and leave our youngest daughter Adah. Adah said she was not about to take on such a death defying river trip in the winter. She had been asking for a wiener dog for a while. I bargained with her to get the dog if she would come with us. Half way through that trip someone asked her what was the best thing about the trip to which she responded,” I got the dog and the trip”. I told her I thought she would make someone a great wife.
The afternoon was warm and sunny. The black schist of the Granite Gorge gathers and radiates the warmth. We bathed, did laundry and generally lazed around, writing and reading. I heard Lee say, “This is a perfect day”. She is right. I have to wonder why it is that we get to do this. When we got home we had to hit the ground running but for that day we just had to deal with another lousy day in paradise.

The Dream Trip: Camp 6, March 4

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

This the day we have taken to calling “the very windy day.” Morning broke with up canyon wind and dark clouds moving fast and high, not a good sign. After a breakfast of pancakes and sausage we suited up for a cold ride and began rigging. I have an old Patagonia sailing suit made of goretex that works well enough. It is a one piece affair that is warm and at least splash proof. I have used it for the past decade on off season trips. Lee purchased a used dry suit for this trip from Kayak Academy. It was a very good investment given the importance of keeping her as warm as possible. I wore my sailing suit a few days while Lee wore her dry suit a lot. She has low blood pressure and needs all the help she can get. Between rowing most of the time and just being warm blooded I wear less on the river than she does.
I pushed into the wind all day. It wasn’t the worst wind I have seen in the Grand Canyon but certainly the worst on this trip. It was by no means a miserable day. I enjoy the workout and being with Lee. She was warm so I was OK. At the Little Colorado we opted to not even pull in. It was running muddy, there was another group already there (Sunday’s Launch) and the wind was ferocious by then. The Little Colorado with its normally bright blue water is a top attraction for most trips floating the river. We have many wonderful memories tied up with that place. On our first trip in 1992 we were still rather shell shocked from our traumatic flip in Badger Rapid when we pulled in at the LC. Lee and I began visiting with a very friendly AZRA guide we met there. Little did we know that Bob Melville would become a dear friend over the next decade. Bob recognized our need and took us under wing encouraging us to be of good courage. He marked up my copy of Larry Stevens guide book with notes on most of the rapids. I still carry that copy and remember Bob’s kindness fondly.
The wind actually got worse below the confluence. That section between the LC and about Carbon Creek can be a real nightmare in the wind. It is very swirly with huge double eddies around the area of the Hopi Salt Mines. In this reach we began over taking Mike Glassgow’s group, the Saturday launch. Mike, a powerful oarsman, was way out ahead. Their plans were to make it to Rattlesnake Camp, mile 74. We were planning on 75 mile Camp above Nevills Rapid because of its shelter from wind and rain. Neither of us made our goal.
At about mile 70 mile I realized I was out of gas and began to look seriously for any camp-able spot. When I asked Lee what she thought about pulling in at 3 pm she said “Heck yes!” I pulled over to a spot I am quite sure no one has ever camped unless they were as desperate as we were. I parked the boat on some rocks at the foot of an eddy and found a very small clear spot up the bank a few yards that I could pitch a tent on. I set up a very hasty and small camp consisting of our tent, two chairs a milk crate and a one burner emergency stove. Of course as soon as I got the tent up the wind died and the sun began coming out. By the time I had busted out or “knock off” dinner of canned chili and bread it was quite pleasant with almost no clouds in sight. We had cocoa with biscotti for dessert.
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After our repast Lee lay in the tent nursing her back while I went hog wild with my camera. The light was very nice for over an hour.
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Soon the wind began to howl again so we went in the tent read and write. We read Charles Frazier’s “Thirteen Moons” together during the first three weeks of the trip; OK historical fiction.