The Dream Trip: Camp 17, March 22

We pulled out of our layover camp at mile 210 at 9:30 hoping to make some miles. After just a half mile or so I pulled into some very nice fluted schist on rivewr right and while Lee held the boat I scrambled all over the place snapping photos while the light was good.
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Lee was very patient, in fact she encourages my image making. Years ago I took photography classes in college thinking I would go that direction but gave it up for clay. A few years ago she got me a digital SLR for a christmas gift and I have been snapping away ever since.
The morning was warm and sunny but not hot. We floated along taking note of places we might stop and hike next time we get down this far in the canyon on a shoulder season trip. We noted that if we do a trip in the cool season again we will spend less time in Marble Canyon and the Granite Gorge and try to save more time for the lower end where it would be warmer. We ate a floating lunch above 117 mile rapids and stopped for some beach combing in “six pack eddy”. We passed Diamond Creek at 2 pm, stopping briefly there to talk to some tourists who had come down the road from Peach Springs to see the mighty Colorado. They were with some sort of jeep safari group and it was clear that we were the hight light of their vist…real river rats.
Below Diamond Creek the lower Granite Gorge is very impressive. The only stop we made was to scout mile 232 rapids, “Killer Fang Falls”. It was a good one to look at especially with the low flows we had that day. The difficulty of this one lies in the fact that the river all piles up on a cluster of nasty sharp rocks that are exposed at lower flows. At the upper left there is a pour over with a churning hole and a lateral wave that wants to surf you to the right into the wave train that piles up on the fangs. I entered right pulling left for all I was worth in an attempt to break through the lateral and miss the whole lower end of the rapid. Luck was with us and by the second wave I could feel the boat breaking out of the wave train and heading left of everything below that.
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The rapid at mile 234 was an easy cheat and we took our camp on a small unused patch of sand nestled in some amazing polished schist boulders. We named the place “Ernie Camp” for our big black dog. Dinner was canned chili and corn bread. It was warm and dry so we slept out on our tarp and enjoyed the Milky Way.
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My camera battery finally died as did the recharger I had brought, so I hot wired the battery from my electric bilge pump so I could get a charge. Thank heaven I and well versed in redneck rigging.

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