Posts Tagged ‘Grand Canyon’

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.

Grand Canyon Expedition Announced

Monday, October 15th, 2012










Join us September 2014 for the trip of a lifetime in the Grand Canyon.

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Lee and I are planning a trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon begining September 24 and ending October 11 of 2014. We would like to invite you to join us if you are able. We are organizing the trip through Tour West, a licensed Grand Canyon outfitter. We plan to run for eighteen days from Lee’s Ferry to Diamond Creek, a journey of 226 miles. We will travel in 18′ oar-powered inflatable rafts. The cost of the trip is about $5000 which includes all services on the river and transportation back to Flagstaff from the take out at Diamond Creek.
We have been taking river trips through the Grand Canyon since 1992. Joe who works as a river guide has completed 48 such trips and Lee well over twenty.
An oar-powered rafting trip through the Grand Canyon is the ultimate and most sought-after white water adventure in North America. Other rivers may offer comparable excitement, solitude and wonder, but in much smaller doses. No other river allows you to run its length for two weeks, shedding the inessential trappings of civilization, like so much dry skin, as you float past some of the oldest exposed rocks on the planet.
The Grand Canyon is one of the most recognizable tourist destinations in the world, but relatively few people see its glory from the bottom up, or experience its meandering as intimately as in an oar-powered boat, which puts you closer to the water than larger, motor-driven craft.
If you watched Ken Burns PBS documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” then you will want to come see this premier park as few get to see it.
If you decide to join us on this trip, expect to be challenged and for your life to be changed. You may forget what the walls of your office look like, or what it’s like to wake to the sound of an alarm. You’ll wake instead to the sound of a cheerful guide calling “Coffee” and serving breakfast at dawn.
Getting on the water early allows us to make miles in the cool and calm of the morning. We stop frequently to visit side canyons with deep narrow walls, waterfalls and swimming holes, hanging fern gardens, natural chapels and concert halls. There is ample time for hiking, swimming and lizarding on flat rocks in the sun. Lunch is served on beaches or in side canyons, wherever we can find shade. We like to get into camp early to allow time for each participant to find some solitude, and so the crew can prepare wholesome and tasty dinners. If you choose to join us on this trip, expect a degree of renewal far more profound than what you typically experience while on vacation.
It is hard to convey second hand just how wonderful this place is.
Pack some clothes and a good book and join us for a truly life altering experience.
Shared solitude.
Deep relaxation.
Sounds that have been happening nonstop for millennia.
If you are interested in joining us on this journey, please contact Joe or Lee as soon as possible. 435-462-2708 or We will be happy to answer your questions. Space is limited. We are asking a $500 nonrefundable deposit to hold your place on the trip at this point.

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.
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.

Grand Canyon Charter June 2009

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

We have been home from our 2009 June river trip for two and a half weeks. It has taken me a while to get the photos up as I have been out on another river trip and busy trying to get caught up here at home. It was a sweet trip with Lee, Louisa and me on crew with Steve Bocagno as well. Here are few images worth a thousand words each to give you a sense of the adventure. We are currently booking for our 2010 june trip.
Lee’s brother Marc joined us with his wife Ruth, her sister Louise and Marc and Ruth’s daughter Sarah.
Paul Bakkom came with his son Erik.
Susan Weeks and Mark Conley and their friend Judy Stone joined us from Colorado.
Julia came to us by way of Tour West. She was a fine addition.
Paul and Erik hanging out. The canyon is a great family place.
Are we having fun yet? Joe leads Team Bedrock on a tour of the left side of everyones favorite obstacle. Can you tell that the boat got COMPLETELY full? In this photo the boat is just coming down from a mighty highside effort by the crew. Also check out how quickly Steve Boccagno got up on top of Bedrock with a throw rope. It is nice to have that kind of people backing you up on the crew.
In the eddy below Bedrock Joe finds out how hard it is to move a boat full of water as the team bails.
Team Bedrock at Owl Eyes beach.
Joe catc hes a nap at the Deer Creek Patio later that day.
Hanging out at Doris camp after the Bedrock fun.
Louisa engaging in a little chub petting during a lunch break at 60 mile rapids.
Who needs dishwashers?
Lee and Sarah lead the Diaper Train at the Little Colorado.
Not only can she clean a peanut butter knife she can make great Freedom Toast.
Marc caught this heron and digitized it.
“No s**t, there I was…” That is how all good boatman stories start.
“If you take that picture I am going to stick this carrot in you.”
The nightly game of pick up sticks.
Petting fish….kissing rocks, what is next?
Louisa Becker, our hero, hiking Havasu nine months after bilateral knee replacement surgery.
I don’t know, it just happened.
Why are these canyoneers smiling? The picture was shot at the shady ledges below Lava Falls.
When the going gets tough, the tough find a rock and pass out on it.
Stepping into North Canyon.
The pool at North canyon.
The true happy hour.
Reaching for it.
Actually the only reason Lee gets to come is because she looks so good on the front tube of the boat.
After the coffee, the ecstacy.
Oh gosh, not Tuna Creek again?
After the nap at Blacktail.
Would you let this guy row you down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon?
Erik catching some quiet time at Matkatamiba.
My new Black Diamond Mega Lite came in handy when it tried to rain one night.
Marc snapped this amazing image at Havasu. The Grand Canyon makes everyone into a better photographer.
Sarah resting up for more fun at Last Chance camp.
Team Havasu demonstrating the Monkey dance that got us off the rock in the top of Havasu Rapids.
The game.
This was the Bennion Grand Canyon charter trip 2009.
Floating to the chopper pad the last morning.
Hiho Silver….away.

A Christ-mas story.

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

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”.

Climbing out of the Abyss

Monday, October 13th, 2008

I returned a week ago from the last Grand Canyon trip of the season. It was a sixteen day trip with 12 passengers. The people were all friends before the trip so there was not the usual break in period. I had a great time but did return with more aches and pains than usual. I’ll need to pay attention to getting and staying in shape over this winter. After all I am 56.
While I was gone our charter trip in the Grand Canyon continued to fill up and Lee got the deposit in to Tour West for me. We have 12 passengers on so far with room for four more. If any are interested I would recommend very quick action, ie. get hold of me now.
I have spent the past week working on the stone for Lee’s studio/barn project. It is going along slowly but well. We will move the stone from Gunnison to Manti on Friday this week and will cut it as soon after that as we can so I can start laying stone. I can’t wait.
Here are a few images I snapped in the Canyon this trip.













Listening to J.J. Cale, Any Way the Wind Blows

Dory Rescue

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

On or about April 22 a dory was parked in the right side of Deubendorf Rapid in Grand Canyon. We arrived there to camp just as the park rangers were preparing to extract the craft. Apparently the boaters and other rangers had tried unsuccessfully to get the boat out at the time that it was pinned. When we got there it had been on the rock for about ten days.
Evening of May second with 15K cfs running through the dory.
I think I heard a math whiz say that the boat had something like 40 tons of pressure on it from the river. If that is the case the Aluminum dory gets the prize for durability.
In the morning the parkies got busy pretty early taking advantage of the lower night time flows.
Cool hi-tech dry suits and radio equipped helmets.
The whole operation was conducted with the utmost attention to safety. The guy down stream has a river board, throw rope and is patched into the radio system.
A tight line is used to move people and gear between shore and the wreck.
The boat’s owner, who has had to extract this thing before, suggested to the park service that they use a pry bar with their winch to jiggle the boat off the rock.
The rangers hooked the stern to a big battery operated winch pulling directly toward the shore.. The bow also had a manual winching system pulling up stream.
When the hatches could be opened gear was hauled ashore on the tight line.
The ranger on board holds up the prize. It is not known if the rescue operation would have been attempted if this beverage was not known to be on board.
As soon as they could get the up stream gunwale out of the water the boat was bailed out as much as possible using buckets and a hand operated bilge pump.
After unloading and bailing the dory was winched the rest of the way in to shore.
It was a truly strange sight to see this great old boat flying out of the canyon.

River miles

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

Just back from another Grand Canyon Field Institute trip through the GC on the Colorado River. The past week has been a blur of glazing pots, loading the kiln, firing and planting more garden. Then there are the honey-do’s. I am taking a much needed day of rest (Sunday) and will be starting the firing cycle again on Monday in preparation for the Heritage Day sale on May 24. After that we will be moving Lee’s studio over here from our old place, more gardening, a big stone moving party on May 31 and starting to prepare and pack for the next GC trip which will be our charter.
Rigging at Lee’s Ferry April 22.
THe GCFI trip was great as usual. I worked with people who I love and respect and the guests were above average. The Canyon is always terrific. The people are what makes the trip. The flowers were outrageous after the winter rains. The wind was hard and usually up-canyon, but what do you expect in April? It was a fairly cool trip temperature wise. I think I slept inside my bag every night and wore a cap to bed a lot of the time. The Canyon is always wonderful.
Christa Jane Sadler, our trip leader, in one of her typical lecture poses. She is passionate about the river, the canyon and the geology.
The thorough and thoughtful botanist and boatman, Gary Bolton.
Greg Woodall Has been on the river for several decades and teaches a type of archeology that is heavy on ethnobotany.
Chris Denker came down from Alaska for his first time through GC rowing baggage.
The junior member of the crew and first timer Ben “Benovich” Anderson rowed bags also.
THe trip, as mentioned, was a GCFI class so there were lots of lectures every day. Here Greg is going on about old time Indians at Hilltop Ruin.
Gary talking plant identification at Whitmore Wash.
Christa’s famous beach playdooh diorama lecture on the formation of Grand Canyon is a high light of every GCFI trip.
The Brittle Bush flowers give the Tonto Platform a yellow tinge in this view from the Inner Gorge.
Lots of wild critters running around. This little Collared Lizard was up Stone Creek.
Pulling into camp at Clear Creek.

Smoke on the water and fire in the sky…April 29 some campers let their fire get away and 2K acres burned on the South Rim. As we rowed against killer upstream winds into Hance Rapids the sun was obscured giving the whole scene an otherworldly feel.
Linda Parr and CJ being cute on a hike.
In early March the BuRec released 40K second feet of water in an attempt to build beaches. This one at Little Nankoweep was a success. At other places camps were diminished or rendered too steep to use.
Somewhere in Grand Canyon this little pot sits undisturbed since it was set down a thousand years ago.
Marble Canyon reflections.
Bruce and Edna stunned to silence by another of CJ’s blathers.
Pat could make a good boatman…..with a lot of practice.
Mike Anderson (here with CJ) is a regular feature on GCFI river trips. He just retired from a career as Park Historian for GCNP.
Big water is not the primary reason I return to the Canyon but it sure adds to the experience. Benovich breaks through the Vee Wave at Lava Falls here.
Denker gets lost in the foam right of the Ledge Hole.
CJ still afloat after getting slapped hard.
Gary coming out of the chute.
Greg getting whammed in the Vee.
Yolanda’s grin about says it all.