A Christ-mas story.

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”.

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2 Responses to “A Christ-mas story.”

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