Posts Tagged ‘Colorado River running’

The Dream Trip: Camp 17, March 22

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

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.

The Dream Trip: Camp 12, March 13-14

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

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We both woke up glad that we had run Upset the night before. It was a beautiful starry night and warm enough that we slept out under it. It was the first night this trip that we were completely out under the stars and not sheltered by some ledge or cave opening. Above is the view looking upstream from the Upper Ledges Camp.
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After a breakfast of Sausage, cheese and egg sandwiches with citrus fruit we got on the water at the crack of 10 am. We enjoyed floating in the morning light past Sinyala Butte and Havasu Creek. We had no great desire to stop at Havasu. If it had been a hot day and swimming was a possibility we might have gone far enough up to take some of that in, but it was cool enough to keep us in our boat. It was a very pleasant time, just floating, taking pictures and talking on and on.
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Our first stop was on river right just above mile 158. The camp there is commonly refered to as First Chance as it is the first viable camp after Havasu Creek. We stopped to look around and climb up into the little drainage that empties into the river there.
In 1994 while on our first trip through the Canyon in our own boat we spent a Sunday afternoon here alone just visiting and catching up. Lee had been flown out of the Canyon at mile 131 just below Bedrock with a kidney stone attack. At the time we didn’t know what was wrong but were sure that if she was not evacuated she would die. She was vomiting and it was over 100 degrees. After passing a kidney stone that night at a motel in Grand Canyon Village she hitched a ride to Flagstaff and stayed with Bob Melville and Jan Carpenter who we had met at the Little Colorado the year before on ourfirst trip through the Canyon as passengers. While there she had decided that if she got right on it and was lucky she could hike in at Havasu Creek and catch up with the group. None of us even knew how things had gone for her. She borrowed a day pack from Jan and got her to drive her out to Hualapai Hilltop where the trail to Supai Village starts. Lee hiked until she could not see anymore and slept under a ledge. She tiptoed through Supai Village before dawn as she had no permit to be hiking there. She finally reached the river at about 11 am, just fifteen minutes before we got there. As we came around the corner into the mouth of the creek we were totally unprepared for the sight of Lee, looking like an angel, standing on the sand bar waving us in. I was in such a state of shock that I almost missed the pull in. The rest of the group went hiking. Lee had done plenty of that already, thank you, so we went down and waited for them at First Chance.
While we were there on that day back in 1994 I found a life jacket from Georgie White’s flip in Crystal back in 1983. It was wedged back up under a rock up high away from the river. I deduced that it was from that flip because the Jacket said Georgie on it and the inspection date on it was 1983. It was in mint condition and hangs today on the wall in my boat house.
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After leaving First Chance we had a floating lunch of home canned peaches, cottage cheese, corn chips and guacamole. At Tuckup Canyon we stopped again to visit with Ray Bush’s group. We had not seen them since the put in and were eager to catch up and swap stories. They were on the last day of a four night layover there. They were all sitting around in shorts and tee shirst. We felt a little over dressed in our water proof gear. Their water filter was malfunctioning so we loaned them ours. They dropped it off to us the next day as were were laying over.
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As we left Tuckup the wind started up and it turn very cold. By the time we had pushed down to National it was raining and sleeting. We no longer felt over dressed. Right after we got into camp the group we had seen at Matkatamiba came struggling down the canyon and took camp below us at Lower National. Just as they were getting their stuff off the boats a wall of dust and wind came down out of National Canyon, missing us and right into them. It was a sand storm of biblical proportions. I went down to see how they were doing after things settled down and found that the recent storms of January had totally reworked the camp. The beach was mostly gone and the wash coming out of National was now going right through the former camp. Their boats were moored to a single rock sitting in the middle of the wash’s path. I suggested they move the boats over to one side or the other and tie them to multiple anchors.
With the storm settling in Lee and I decided on a quick dinner of pork chili stew and retired to our tent to read and write in our journals.
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March 14 was a Sunday and we decided to take a day of rest; layover day. We ate chocholate chip cookie bars in bed with milk and then took an early walk up National Canyon to catch the amazing morning light.
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On our first trip through the Canyon in 1992 we stopped at National. i don’t know why because everyone was so freaked out about the prospect of running Lava falls later that day that they stayed on the boats while Lee and I went exploring. We didn’t know if we would ever do this again and we didn’t want to miss anything. It was a bit special to get to see it alone that day. This morning 18 years later was just as sweet. The only sound was the little water noises that speak about eons and patience. We wandered slowly up to where the canyon narrowed and became too much trouble to negotiate further.
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Back in camp we had a pancake and sausage brunch and watched the river roll by. We read from our scriptures some and discussed what we read and felt. This trip was special. It was so nice to have the time and freedom to go slow and take a Sunday off to just look around and rest up. We lived a dream down there and talked about how to bring some of that feeling back with us to our home by the brook in the trees in Spring City. It is just the two of us there too, but with the added pleasure of community if we want to engage. This trip was a ceremony for us. It asked some things of us and it showed us things we had been missing in out mundane life, things that can be there if looked for.
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It was warm and sunny so we bathed and did laundry thinking I would be the last time we would need to wash before the end of the trip that was only ten days away. On some trips that seems like a lot of time but we were already seventeen days into it. Ray Bush’s group had dropped off the water fdilter we loaned them and I pumped water for the first time since starting the trip. We were only carrying a six gallon jug but the temps were cool enough that refilling a one spring and Phantom Ranch had gotten us by OK.
Lee made her famous onion, pine nuts and gorgonzola cheese pizza and we had it with a salad and more of those cookie bars.