Posts Tagged ‘Grand Canyon Rafting’

The Dream Trip: Camp 15, March 18-19

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Breakfast the second morning at Whitmore was egg, cheese and spam muffin sandwiches with grapefruit after a cozy sleep in. While I cleaned up and broke camp down Lee went walking up Whitmore Wash in the morning cool. By the time she was back I had most of the rigging done and we got on the water by 11:30. Happy Birthday Lee.
We spent the day drifting in a rather lazy fashion. There were no rapids to speak of and we were in no great hurry. I’d stroke every so often as needed to keep us more or less in the current. We talked some and did a lot of looking. We stopped to check out a cave in the lava at about mile 190. It is a place where lava likely flowed out over sand and the sand has long since blown away leaving a cavity that is amazingly cool in hot weather. Lee had not seen it before and I wanted a break from the grind of letting the boat drift. We talked with a couple of groups we met along the way. Most have a keen interest in the kind of trip we are running. Though not unheard of a one boat trip is still a bit out of the ordinary. We talked for a while with a small group of men camped at Parashant Wash.
Above Parashant we pulled over and took a nap in the shade after a floating lunch. It was actually nice to have it warm enough to feel like looking for shade in the afternoon. Lee slept on the boat. I went ashore and found a very nice spot that probably never gets sunlight and was very mossy and soft.
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We took camp at mile 202 on river right where there is a nice beach next to some basalt cliffs. The evening was very nice and we had a fine dinner of pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, avocados with lime juice and french fries. Dessert was leftover apple crisp from Whitmore camp.

With the trip now a week from finishing time actually felt like it was spreading out instead of compressing like it usually does at the end. Usually by the time we are at 202 we are a day or two away from the takeout. When we launched we thought we might have to go all the way to South Cove at mile 297. We called out with the sat-phone earlier in the day and found out that the new boat ramp at Pearce Ferry is now open. That means we would take out at mile 280 so we were fat on time. Below Diamond Creek (mile 226) we would have 3 days. We also would not have to run Pearce Ferry Rapids which have become pretty nasty though runnable.

We decided to layover again at 202 since the time was not an issue. We got up at 7:30 and put together a breakfast of eggs, ham, corn bread and grape fruit. Just as we were pulling the corn bread out of the dutch oven the boyos from Parashant came by so we called them over and gave them fresh hot corn bread with honey and butter on it. They were OK with that.
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After our breakfast Lee and I went exploring down stream. We hiked up on top of the lava cliffs and followed game trails through what can be accurately described as a desert botanical and rock garden. The heavy rains in January had greened things up and it was a route that probably sees very little traffic. It was splendid. The rocks all had a great dark shiny desert varnish on them. We made our way up a little drainage that terminated in a dry waterfall where we found some shade. It was really starting to act like March in the lower canyon and the shade was welcome.
On the way back we watched a small group drift by from the cliffs above them. They were all very young and trying to get as darkened by the sun as possible, a habit most thinking boatmen get over after a few years on the river. They never new we were up there watching.
Back in camp Lee made a pizza while I baked a cake. The evening light was wonderful and the moon set as we bedded down in the open air. As the moon set the stars began coming out in ernest.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.”
Psalm 19:1-2

The Dream Trip: Camp 3, March 1

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

I busted out of the sleeping bag at 5:45 on that morning and started doing the guide thing; making hot water, rustling breakfast, pumping poor old Homer up and all the rest. Lee slept in and did her back maintenance thing. It is nice to be up early and watch things come to life as the grayness gives way to the brilliant colors of the Supai and Redwall in early light. Higher up it seemed strange to see snow starting to show up on the Kaibab. It was a cloudless spring day in the making.
We actually got on the water by 10:15, a whole lot better than 1:20. Maybe the layover helped. Lee, feeling much better, had begun picking up small things to hand me on the boat and found that if she sat on a bucket she could organize our kitchen and staples box.
Our kitchen box consisted of a 20mm can with various gadgets and things, a milk crate with pots and pans wrapped in a construction grade plastic bag and our two small dutch ovens in the “hell box”, a large aluminum dry box built for me by my friend Dan Toone. Dan also did the welding on my homemade canyon type frame. When I met Dan he was making bulk tanks and such for dairy operations and other applications and agreed to help me get my river outfit together. He has a rather well developed body of metal sculpture now.
It was a glorious morning on the water. My favorite section of the river is where the Redwall Limestone is at river level. The light bouncing around in the tight confines of the limestone is just magic. What follows the “roaring twenties” is the “great depression”. From about mile 29 on there are few rapids if any so it is really quiet. And then there are the sweet little wrens with their distinctive call. We just floated, hardly putting an oar in the water listening and visiting. It was wonderful to not have any other boats to keep up with or to wait on and only stopping where we wanted to stop. We really started realizing how different and wonderful this trip was going to be. Though we still had 24 days ahead we felt the need to savour every moment and make it last like a piece of delicious hard candy that if you suck it too hard it is gone soon. Neither of us ever took naps or read during the day while we were on the water, not wanting to miss anything.

Lee was feeling a whole lot better and really wanted to hike Fence Fault. Neither of us had ever stopped there so we tied up below the fault and set out to see what was up there after having another nice floating lunch of hummus, cheese, fruit and crackers. Breaks in the Redwall Limestone are few in Marble Canyon and where there is a fault there is often a way to climb up. We made our way easily up through the Redwall and started contouring up canyon back toward Shinimo Wash. In warmer weather we usually stop at Shinimo and scramble up into this narrow slot canyon dubbed “Silver Grotto” to catch some cool and shade. Not so in March. We entered Shinimo above the Silver Grotto where the wash widens as it cuts through the Supai formation. We could look down into the frigid depths of the limestone narrows. On a hot day with some climbing rope and descending gear it might make a fun adventure.
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Looking downstream from Fence Fault. Lee climbing through the Redwall. (Where are those gloves girl?) Looking down into upper Silver Grotto. The natural color of the limestone is revealed where it is abraded by flash floods like in Silver Grotto. The characteristic red color that gives the formation its name is washed down from the Supai and Hermit Shale above that is rich in iron from sediments originating where the Rocky Mountains now stand. The cool thing about the Redwall is that it stretches all the way eastward across the North American continent to the Appalachian Mountains. Of course way out there they don’t call it Redwall. They have some local name for it.
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Lee silhouetted against the Redwall Limestone and Supai talus in Shinimo Wash above Silver Grotto. Need I ask if she is liking this hike? You will notice that as the days went by on this trip she just got looking better. I can’t say the same for Mr Stubble Face.

After the hike we continued floating without much propulsion down stream not really thinking about where we would camp. We carefully took on water at Vasey’s Paradise and floated right by Redwall Cavern. Below the cavern on river left we found a nice little camp about mile 33.5. After a the grunt of derigging and setting up camp (Lee was a bit hammered by the hike so I did it.) Dinner was our attempt to duplicate the offering at Ray’s Tavern in Green River, two 1/2 lb burgers cooked over charcoal with sliced avocados hosed with lime juice and salt on the side. BTW, if you ever get even close to Green River, Utah check out what is possibly the best cheese burger and fries in the USA. We also made a small dutch oven full of apple crisp using a filling we canned at home from apples we grew on our place.
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The camp at 33.5 mile. Looking upstream at Redwall Cavern from camp. Looking down stream from our parking spot.

June Charter 2008

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

Lee and I returned three weeks ago from our annual grand Canyon charter trip with our girls and my brother Howard and his family. This is a trip that we put together every year in mid june through Tour West, a licensed Grand Canyon outfitter. Next year’s trip is already starting to fill up. If you are interested in finding out more about it contact me asap as time is running on.
Near the Tour West warehouse in Fredonia, Arizona is Judd Auto famous for it’s marquee.
The H Bennions at Clear Creek.
Howard my baby brother and his eternal sweetie Holly.
Hannah just out of high school and ready to take on college.
Van Haley Bennion, the best one. (Photo Howard Bennion)
Heidi Ho also a serious contender for the best one.
Heather Lenore, the schist Pixie.
Howard and Holly’s best friends Wally and Frankie.
Our friends from home Kim and Linda.
Signe and Nords from Riga, Latvia.
The Joe and Lee Bennion gang in Blacktail Canyon.
Latvians exiting Clear Creek.
Joe the Potter and Adah Bee sharing a laugh at Red Wall Cavern. (Photo Howard Bennion)
Louisa happy at her oars. (Photo Howard Bennion)
Zina hating every nano second of her Lava Falls run. (Photo Howard Bennion)
Adah smiles on.
Lee’s face in Lava says it all. (Photo Howard Bennion)
My brother Glynn’s daughter Emily. (Photo Howard Bennion)
Ten Bennion women is enough for any trip.
Nate earns his keep with the girls.
Jake with the girls.
Naps should be taken every day if shade can be found.
Impromptu multi-trip concert at Blacktail.
Below Lava festivities included an hour long pee break with jump rope competition.
Nords chills with his book at Zoroaster.
Wally reading at Zoroaster too.
Hiking North Canyon.
The three younger Bennion women at Clear Creek.
Joe the Potter pontificating on the finer points of canyon ethnobotany….yawn. (Photo Howard Bennion)

OK, here is what we all came for…the Lava runs. We hit Lava at a kind of harsh level. You could go left but the right was still there if you didn’t mind big and wet. We watched Can-X go left and then went right anyway.
Lou and Lee getting thrown around.(Photo Howard Bennion)
Mike and Zina in the Vee Wave. (Photo Howard Bennion)
Joe going into the Vee. (Photo Howard Bennion)
The boatman then took it in the shorts. (Photo Howard Bennion)
Not my finest moment going into the tail waves sideways. More proof that God loves a fool. (Photo Howard Bennion)