Posts Tagged ‘Colorado River’

Going For the Light: 18 day Photography workshop on the river in Grand Canyon

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

I have been asked to work on a special charter trip in September. Check it out and see if in works for you.
The sole intent of this trip is to provide time for artists to work in the Grand Canyon. This means that we plan to visit places that have visual options and the right light. The light is the priority, so sometimes we will arrive at our destination early and wait. The light will guide our stops and layovers. A layover is a camp where you sleep in your tent twice.
We will have a discussion of our overall plan the evening before we launch and everyday during the trip. We will use maps and compass azimuths for the sunrise, sunset and moonrise. Please keep in mind that all commercial and most private (non- commercial) trips have hurried schedules to keep as they move from one attraction site to another. We are very different in that we are going to certain locations where artists will be able to get things done without time constraints. There is no way to guarantee that we will always get what we want but we will do our best. The better light will be in the morning and evening. In the middle hours of the day we will travel or use the time to prepare to work.
Time is of the essence. For example, if we make a bag lunch everyday we will have saved eighteen work hours by the end of the trip.
Our days will begin at sunrise. Supper will probably be in the dark so folks can work late. The food will be wonderful, so don’t bring any extra. We will have a lot of snack food. If, you have dietary restrictions or allergies let us know.
We have a list of clothing and equipment that each person can bring. As far as essential equipment, my suggestion is a Pelican 1510 box for SLR sized cameras. There are various sizes that will accommodate painters as well. Photographers need to bring extra batteries. We are not allowed to run a generator in the Grand Canyon National Park.
We will have a wet hatch for tripods and field easels but both need individual waterproof bags. The Colorado River water has a lot of salts and tripods will suffer corrosion if wet every day. A waterproof daypack will be needed to carry gear for hiking. Please bring heavy-duty freezer bags to keep sand off your equipment. In addition to the Tour West personal items list we will need the following:
• raingear top and bottom (good quality) • sandals (good condition) • bandannas • hiking shoes (light weight) and socks
• long pants for sun protection • shorts • long sleeve shirts
• umbrella for sun and rain while working • a chair or stool • brimmed hat with bronco strap • sunglasses
• 2 or 3 liter-size water bottles • gloves for hiking • hiking poles, if you like • a light warm sweater
• journal and pens • sun lotion • pocket knife • headlamp and back up flashlight and spare batteries • superglue
• a good book • handywipes with toiletries kit
Trip Logistics:
On the evening of Saturday, September 19th we will meet at The Monte Vista Hotel at Aspen Avenue and San Francisco Street in downtown Flagstaff. The next morning we will have an orientation session, arrange and prepare gear and make last minute purchases before leaving Flagstaff by bus in the early afternoon for Marble Canyon which is five miles from Lee’s Ferry, our put in point. After dinner and a short orientation from a Tour West representative, we will have a planning session at Marble Canyon Lodge to discuss the trip. There will be maps, visual images of particular areas and talk of options. Folks are welcome to make
suggestions, requests or present ideas on the evening of the 20th –and also anytime during the course of the trip. The next morning, Sept 21st, we will launch and be on the water for the next 18 days. Take out will be at Diamond Creek on Thursday, October 8th. We will be driven back to Flagstaff where we will arrive at the Monte Vista Hotel in the afternoon. On Friday, October 9th the day will be spent editing images in preparation for a group presentation that evening.
Safety is our first priority and will be discussed thoroughly. All licensed guides have intensive training in Wilderness First Responder and on this trip one of the guides is an ER doc.
I am available for questions at the following numbers:
Studio/office: 928.779.1966 Mobile phone: 928.606.4663
Rivers and Oceans is handling all trip logistics and payments. Please contact Geoff Gourley with any questions:
Main: 800-473-4576 Direct: 928-440-2081
Last thoughts about our trip
The thrill of art often emerges from results unanticipated and is sometimes, frankly, surprising. The artist is as astonished as everyone else. This is true of photographers, painters, poets, writers, musicians, sculptors and ceramicists. We never know when something beyond our expectations will happen. All we can
do is try not to be too intimidated and work hard. As frustrating as it is to not be in control this is why we live: to persist and let art emerge. The intention of this trip is to make such moments possible.
Bring something you’d like to sip on during the evenings. We will stop on the way out of town to stock up. You will need enough for 18 – 19 days.
We will have musicians along, so if you play an instrument smaller than a grand piano, call us and we can brainstorm protective containers.

Join us in Canyonlands for a sweet river adventure.

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

I will be working two Cataract Canyon river trips this June. The first is a scout trip June 16-20. The next week I will lead a trip that so far has only 5 passengers. The trip launches on Tuesday June 23 and finishes on Saturday June 27. The cost is $1000+ taxes and a shuttle ride back to Moab after the trip. The shuttle is by air and is about $140. If any would like to join this trip contact Tour West and tell them you are one of my people and sign on. I would love to share this five day adventure with you. If you want to ask me questions about the trip call my cell phone 435-262-0582.
img_2471.JPG Our trip will begin at Mineral Bottom on the Green River.
Cliff ruins on the Green River.
The Cross.
Evening light.
Hiking in the Doll’s House.
Great beach for camping at Brown Betty.
Big fun in the Big Drops.
Ancient granaries on the Doll’s House hike.
The view from the Cool Room.
Looking down on the Stove Pipe Camp.
The Confluence of the Colorado River and Green River.
The Two-Holer.
Looking out from the Two-Holer.
Red rocks.
The view from the Turk’s Head.
The other side of Turk’s Head.
Looking northeast from the Doll’s House.
In the Cool Room.
Ruin near the Green River.
Looking downstream from the ruin at Fort Bottom.
The cabin at Fort Bottom.
The ruin at Fort Bottom.
Lower Cataract Canyon.
Two old folks on the trail.
The Doll’s House.
Confluence Overlook.
Evening light after a storm on the Green River.
Morning light on the Colorado River.

The Dream Trip: Camp 9, March 8

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

We were slow leaving our little ledge camp in the schist and granite. It seems that as we went down the river the one-boat camps just kept getting better. Maybe we just got better at spotting them. This one was a jewel.
Granite Falls was our first rapid and happens to be my favorite one to run in the canyon. Our run on day eleven was no exception; big waves and lots of adrenaline.
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Looking down stream towards Granite Falls in the morning. Lee enjoying a boat washing ride through Granite Falls with Mike Levitt on our Tour West charter trip in 2008. Do you think this woman likes riding through big water? (photo credit Howard Bennion) Looking back upstream at Granite Falls.

After Granite it was Hermit Rapid which I mostly cheated on the right and Boucher Rapid. We pulled in and scouted Crystal Rapid not wanting to mess up there. We were on weekend water and it was low which usually indicates a left run. I have gotten into trouble a couple of times over on the left and decided to make the center to right momentum run that I usually do. I was concerned about one nasty looking fang rock barely below the surface just upstream and toward the shore from the lower right hole in the rapid. We had a pair of electric bilge pumps mounted in the rear of the boat between the rear drop bag and a beavertail. I executed the pull to the right OK but pulled back a little out of concern about hitting that rock and possibly damaging the pumps. Well, the river shot us right back into the main stream and I could see that we would hit the hole dead center so I straightened out and pushed into it telling Lee to hunker down. The boat tacoed and filled with river. I usually push left of the rock island when running right in the upper rapid. This time, with a boat load of water, I limped along the right side which was pretty bony with the low water. I was more glad than ever for those pumps. I had switched them on going into the rapid. Below Crystal I eddied out and waited for the boat to drain. It took a loooong time.
Below Crystal there is a little break in the action and then it is Tuna Creek, Nixon Rock and the “Gems”. Nixon Rock is named that because it is “a little right of center and crooked”.
The sun was on and off all that day so we staked out a patch of it on river right below Nixon Rock and had a lunch of cottage cheese, canned pineapple and assorted snacks on the boat. The early Gems were uneventful except for the fact that I cheated most of them. (Lee loves that.) Below Turquoise we pulled over and made camp on a tiny beach with a high bedroom at mile 102.5 on river right.
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Upstream view from Hermit with snow on the high country. Looking up stream at “Nixon Rock from our lunch spot. In the Gems above Turquoise.

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Lee asked me to pull over in the Gems and get some images of this little moss garden she spied.
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It was a nice day, excitement at Crystal notwithstanding. I love the granite dikes running in clusters all over the place through this section. The lost and found sun light made for some dramatic scenes.

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Our camp at 102.5 was very quiet, a quality Lee favors. If I am with a group I like a noisy rapid so I can retire early and not be kept awake with all the talking. If no one else is around the silence is golden. We had leftover lasagna and the last of our green salad. I whipped up a rice pudding using coconut milk for dessert. We were early to bed as the night chill set in. The stars were brilliant at bed time and I wanted to sleep out under them but Lee won that argument handily. Of course as soon as were settled in the clouds rolled in and it rained all night.

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.

Cataract Canyon July 2009

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

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.
The crew.
The people.
The place.
The hikes

Lets go boating: Cataract Canyon

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

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.
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.

Cataract Canyon again.

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Lee and I escaped to Moab after her opening to float the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon. Rick Gate and Bob Armstrong went along for the ride…and hiking.
Old friends.
Better with age.
Richard Charles Edward Gate.
Bob Armstrong the hiking fool of the Colorado Plateau.
Our old gray boat Homer under the bathtub ring of Powell Reservoir. I don’t think the lake will ever get that high again given water demands of down stream users.