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.
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.
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.