Posts Tagged ‘River Running.’

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

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.
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Near the Tour West warehouse in Fredonia, Arizona is Judd Auto famous for it’s marquee.
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The H Bennions at Clear Creek.
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Howard my baby brother and his eternal sweetie Holly.
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Hannah just out of high school and ready to take on college.
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Van Haley Bennion, the best one. (Photo Howard Bennion)
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Heidi Ho also a serious contender for the best one.
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Heather Lenore, the schist Pixie.
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Howard and Holly’s best friends Wally and Frankie.
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Our friends from home Kim and Linda.
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Signe and Nords from Riga, Latvia.
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The Joe and Lee Bennion gang in Blacktail Canyon.
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Latvians exiting Clear Creek.
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Joe the Potter and Adah Bee sharing a laugh at Red Wall Cavern. (Photo Howard Bennion)
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Louisa happy at her oars. (Photo Howard Bennion)
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Zina hating every nano second of her Lava Falls run. (Photo Howard Bennion)
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Adah smiles on.
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Lee’s face in Lava says it all. (Photo Howard Bennion)
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My brother Glynn’s daughter Emily. (Photo Howard Bennion)
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Ten Bennion women is enough for any trip.
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Nate earns his keep with the girls.
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Jake with the girls.
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Naps should be taken every day if shade can be found.
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Impromptu multi-trip concert at Blacktail.
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Below Lava festivities included an hour long pee break with jump rope competition.
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Nords chills with his book at Zoroaster.
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Wally reading at Zoroaster too.
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Hiking North Canyon.
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The three younger Bennion women at Clear Creek.
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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.
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Lou and Lee getting thrown around.(Photo Howard Bennion)
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Mike and Zina in the Vee Wave. (Photo Howard Bennion)
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Joe going into the Vee. (Photo Howard Bennion)
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The boatman then took it in the shorts. (Photo Howard Bennion)
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Not my finest moment going into the tail waves sideways. More proof that God loves a fool. (Photo Howard Bennion)

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.
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Evening of May second with 15K cfs running through the dory.
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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.
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In the morning the parkies got busy pretty early taking advantage of the lower night time flows.
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Cool hi-tech dry suits and radio equipped helmets.
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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.
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A tight line is used to move people and gear between shore and the wreck.
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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.
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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.
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When the hatches could be opened gear was hauled ashore on the tight line.
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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.
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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.
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After unloading and bailing the dory was winched the rest of the way in to shore.
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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.
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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.
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Christa Jane Sadler, our trip leader, in one of her typical lecture poses. She is passionate about the river, the canyon and the geology.
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The thorough and thoughtful botanist and boatman, Gary Bolton.
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Greg Woodall Has been on the river for several decades and teaches a type of archeology that is heavy on ethnobotany.
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Chris Denker came down from Alaska for his first time through GC rowing baggage.
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The junior member of the crew and first timer Ben “Benovich” Anderson rowed bags also.
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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.
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Gary talking plant identification at Whitmore Wash.
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Christa’s famous beach playdooh diorama lecture on the formation of Grand Canyon is a high light of every GCFI trip.
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The Brittle Bush flowers give the Tonto Platform a yellow tinge in this view from the Inner Gorge.
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Lots of wild critters running around. This little Collared Lizard was up Stone Creek.
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Chuckwalla
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Pulling into camp at Clear Creek.
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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.
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Linda Parr and CJ being cute on a hike.
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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.
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Somewhere in Grand Canyon this little pot sits undisturbed since it was set down a thousand years ago.
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Marble Canyon reflections.
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Bruce and Edna stunned to silence by another of CJ’s blathers.
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Pat could make a good boatman…..with a lot of practice.
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Mike Anderson (here with CJ) is a regular feature on GCFI river trips. He just retired from a career as Park Historian for GCNP.
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Blacktail.
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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.
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Denker gets lost in the foam right of the Ledge Hole.
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CJ still afloat after getting slapped hard.
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Gary coming out of the chute.
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Greg getting whammed in the Vee.
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Yolanda’s grin about says it all.

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.
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Old friends.
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Better with age.
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Richard Charles Edward Gate.
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Bob Armstrong the hiking fool of the Colorado Plateau.
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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.