|Pikes Peak River
Gotcha on the
By Louisa Bradtmiller,Denny
Claveau and Christina King
Day 1 (Aug 20, 2003), Mile 19 Camp
Our Grand Canyon trip has come together quite quickly with many different players than we thought just a year ago or so when Bill Cooke called on the Boston Turnpike to pick up a Grand Canyon permit cancellation for August 20, 2003. The usual suspects werent available to join the trip so we had many newcomers on this Grand Canyon trip. Our group demographics are primarily Colorado (with the exception of Bob/Susan), AARPs, oldest being 70 (my dad) and youngest being Louisa (24?). Bill (permit holder) and Irene Cooke (trip leader), Bob & Susan (Groth) Marley, Pat Campanello, Dave Wimmer, Louisa Bradtmiller (Cookes niece), Jethro Grantham & Terra Geiger, Denny Claveau, Ed Tucker (my Dad) and me (Christina King). Pat, Louisa, Denny, Jethro & Terra had never run the Grand Canyon before and were anxious to experience this wonderful trip. This trip story includes Louisa and Dennys first impressions of the Canyon. I always enjoy a first timers perspective of this trip and have a hard time explaining the river trip to others who havent gone down. I hope everyone enjoys this Grand Canyon story.
We arrived yesterday and shoved our fully rigged raft off the trailer (what a nice feeling). No rigging for us. Dave had arrived extra early and had already begun his hiking adventures by hiking up to the top of Spencer trail at the Lees Ferry put-in. Quite a vertical climb!
Our first morning before launching was full of last minute packing, stuffing, nervousness and excitement. It always takes a long time to get off the beach and this trip was no exception. We have 2 catarafts, 4 rafts, lots of gear/food and one deflated ducky (bet it doesnt get used much). The Paria river tributary is running brown so we only have clear water before the Paria riffles blends the brown with the dark clear green of the river below the dam. It was an easy decision for Dad (Ed) not to fish this trip as he can see that the Paria has mucked up the river from the beginning. Its such a relief to finally launch and get on the river after all the hard work Irene has had to complete (similar to herding cats). Ive been a trip leader many times and I truly think the hardest work happens before the trip launches and it becomes much easier once we get on the river.
This following House Rock Rapid picture is of Dave Wimmer from a May 2003 Grand Canyon trip.
We ate lunch after a successful run of Badger Creek Rapid. Soap Creek rapid was also easy. We stopped to scout House Creek Rapid (a toughie) and I ran center and scooted hard right to pull away (successfully) from the huge hole at the bottom center/left of the river. Several people say you can sneak left but I dont see it. Ive always run right and only made a mistake once and got pulled left into the hole once (first trip down in the late 1980s). Ive avoided the hole ever since then. My advice for others "dont follow Bill"! Denny exclaimed after the rapid that he noticed the hole on the left and was glad we missed it. This is Dennys first trip and I have asked him to keep a journal to include in this story.
We saw two stout bighorn sheep today (rams and we will see many more this trip) and camp at Mile 19. I ran sweep today with Bob running lead. Running lead can be stressful, as the first boat has no one to catch them in case of mishap. Bob runs lead most of the trip (until Lava). We got to camp late and had a quick dinner with much joking about staying up until 8 pm. The rest of the trip we pattern ourselves off of the sun and wake up early (launch by 8 am) and retire at dark. It gets dark about 7:30 as it is getting towards the end of August.
As I go to bed tonight on my boat, I reflect that this if my first Grand Canyon trip without Pete (my husband). Both of us love this trip and spend at least 6-8 or more weeks per year on the river but work interfered and Pete had to back out of this trip just a month or so ago. We always run our own boats but Ill miss him. As I fall asleep tonight I wonder if he is thinking about me. Its great to have a successful and safe first day with Dad and Denny in my boat. I am actually less stressed when I run my boat with only gear because if I flip I only have to worry about myself. There is nothing worse than flipping and not finding your Dad right away (1992 trip with Dad - first and only flip in Lava)! I have a cozy bed set up on the boat on top of the cooler. This is the first time I have run Petes Avon Pro SB (16 foot) in the Grand as I usually run my 14 foot Avon Adventurer SB. It feels bigger and heavier but I like it. I still have to reach quite a bit to use the foot bar when making a big pull but its okay. I quizzed Dad and Denny all day with little hints about our Grand Canyon trivia game. It will become an entertainment event on our cook days later in the trip. Little do they know some of the "semi-valuable prizes" could be considered valuable by some of our group!
Day 2 (Aug 21) Silver Grotto
Last night was a quiet night in our calm eddy. Many of us slept quite close to each other (with a small beach). Susan has a particular method of making coffee which looks like a sweat sock attached to a board that coffee is run through and prepared. Since I dont drink coffee I think it a bit odd but the coffee drinkers in the group love it. Go figure! It is a cool morning and our routine is established. This group is gung ho at launching by 8 am. I admit I kind of like it but as the trip goes on I think it a bit obsessive, especially when people get cranky if we arent off by 8:30 am. This trip is extremely well organized (like many we have been on) but I wonder if too many Type As (which I count myself as one) might be a bit much. The Roaring 20s rapids provide wet shivering waves and weve been lucky to get about 20,000 cfs every day as a high flow on our trip. Weve been told that the flows will drop down to 8,000 cfs on the last 4 days of our trip but who cares by then. I love running the Grand at high water with the brown murky water. That is the way the Colorado was meant to run (before the dam).
We stopped at a cave below Cave Springs Rapid on the left and poked around in it with a flashlight. We continued on down river with Denny rowing (to keep warm). It will prove to be a relatively cool and rainy trip this year. Denny learned how powerful Colorado River eddys can be and got really warm rowing to get out of it. We arrived at our planned Silver Grotto camp in time for lunch. This is a 16-day trip so we can afford to take short days and enjoy the hikes and interesting side canyons. Silver Grotto is such a fun canyon for a group adventure.
After lunch we climbed, scooted and slithered up Silver Grotto but out of the blue the weather turned on us. Clouds gathered, thunder boomed and we shuffled out quickly. This is not a place to get caught in a storm. Our ropes helped us get out quickly and the threatening clouds scared us. I was glad to get out safely and we enjoyed grilled brats/beans and coleslaw while the storm gathered. It didnt end up storming but the variable weather stayed with us most of the trip. Ive gotten the rest of our group quickly competing for "semi-valuable prizes" with our Grand Canyon trivia game. Denny nicknames them "semi-precious gifts" but I insist that prizes are earned and gifts are not. I notice that not only is this AARP group focused on comparing prescription drugs (filling pillboxes, etc ) and retirement benefits but also loves thrift store bargains. It is becoming a one-upmanship contest about who can tell the best thrift store bargain story. I think Dad has it locked up by describing going to the Goodwill on 15% off Wednesdays and bargaining down items by 0.50 cents. Yup, he buys used mens shoes and is very proud of that. Silver Grotto is not a boat-sleeping camp and I sleep on the soft sand at the rivers edge as the water comes up all afternoon.
Jethro reveals a new gear item every day. By the end of the trip, I tally it up and am amazed that the 19-foot Maravia SB held it all. But then again it was a 19-foot raft! Yes, there was a laptop computer on Jethros boat
Day 3 (Aug 22) - Buck Farm
Our first stop today was at South Canyon where we stop to see Anasazi ruins, bighorn sheep and the Indiana Jones cave (which peeks over South Canyon around the corner). Pat had a case of beer delivered by a friend of a friend (boatman on a motor rig) and Bob filled up drinking water at Vaseys Paradise. Again its a cool morning. We played Frisbee at Redwall Cavern and I offered up a small "semi-precious gift" to the first Grand Canyon newbie who spies a nautiloid at Nautiloid Canyon. Louisa won but it was a bit unfair. Louisa is working on her PHD in Geology at Columbia. Yes, this trip is making her late to her first day of class but her professors gave her a break. After all, the Grand Canyon is every geologists dream.
Denny rowed his first Class 3 rapid (Scale is 1-10 in the Grand Canyon) today (Mile 36) and did a great job. Denny really enjoys rowing so I try to give him all the rowing he desires. Tonight we pull into Buck Farm to camp and "battened down the hatches" when a big windstorm came up. I slept on the boat again and used my "mushroom" sand anchor. It works well for one boat and keeps me in the water (and not beached when the dam-released water goes down). I recommend it for rivers that have sand bottoms. It also helps keep my boat from bumping into other boats during the night. Bill pulls out the first of his many "camo" (camouflage) T-shirts from Sportsmans Guide and Dave echoes his appreciation for this catalog store. Dave and Bill reveal that they are Sportsmans Guide "Buyers Club" members. Bill swears that he has ordered camo underwear for Irene. We see many camo shirts the rest of this trip. Even a sky blue shirt that disguises Bill from the rest of us. Yeah right!
Day 4 (Aug 23), Nankoweep
This morning started with a dip stick water war that had many alliances (made and broken). Dave started it by lamely saying he just missed a pull on his oar as he sprayed us with cold water. Denny pretends to think that water fighting is beneath him but Dad doesnt hold back. Dad is a dipsticking fool and finds it hard to stop (even to the point of getting a dipstick blister on his thumb). We stopped at Bert Lopers boat but Louisa had a minor injury mishap.
Dad and I thought we would have some nice quiet time while the rest of the group hiked up Saddle Canyon but no. The weather deteriorated quickly and we had to put on our warm gear and sit in the rain. After lunch we ran President Harding rapid cleanly but noticed that Jethro and Terras boat was setting up strangely above the rapid. Its almost as though they couldnt decide which side to run. It turns out that they switched rowing at the last minute and ran down the left side (but much too close to the rock). The thunderous eddy behind the rock sucked them in and they spent the next 15 minutes or so, rowing like crazy to get out of the eddy. The boat spun around, surged below the water line on the sides of the boat and through a joint effort at the oars and pulling with all their might, they finally got out. They were spent. Bob got some nice pictures. The rest of us really thought they might flip but their boat was so heavy and big I really think that helped them stay upright during the eddy surges.
We got to Nankoweep our camp and set up the tent. Several of our group went up to the Anasazi Granaries to enjoy the view. Denny has a family game called Gotcha. The premise of the game is that if a person says something really outrageous and another person says, "really" it is a "gotcha". Dad drives Denny crazy by not playing the game "correctly" and blurting out "gotcha" when it really isnt a "gotcha". Soon the group joins in and "gotcha" is blurted on a daily basis and everyone laughs until they cry. It continues on the trip and soon Denny refuses to acknowledge the gotchas. Its amazing what can be funny by Day 10 .Jethro cranks up his Margarita blender (a.k.a. weed wacker motor) and makes Margaritas for the group.
Day 5 (Aug 24), Upper Rattlesnake
I tried to sleep in the tent last but between the stuffiness and Dad telling me to stop snoring, I finally left the tent for my tarp and slept outside in the sand. It drizzled a bit but finally stopped raining. It dawned cool and clear today (no sign of the condors- weve seen here on other trips). Probably too cold for the condors. Everyone agreed to a water fighting truce today as it was just too cool. Denny rowed Mile 60 rapid with a noticeable increase in confidence. We saw lots of groups on the river today and stopped at the Little Colorado River (LCR). It was muddy as expected. Denny had the sharpest eye today and spotted the Desert Watchtower on the South Rim today. This is the only place I can recognize from the river as being a man-made feature. We stopped above Tanner Rapid to visit the petroglyphs at the Birthing Rock. Everyone ran the hole at Tanner rapid on the left because they didnt recognize it in time. This really shakes my confidence as I saw it in plenty of time and did not run it. I know I am a very conservative boater (and that gets me in trouble) and tend to read the river fairly well in advance. That doesnt mean I dont screw up but at least I know Im screwing up ahead of time. I really hate watching people get in trouble and worry for them as much as for me. Plus I like to know that if I mess up, someone will be below to pick up the pieces.
We eat lunch above Unkar Delta, visit the Anasazi ruins, and admire the broken pottery shards. The pottery shards reveal skilled and roughhewn designs with many patterns and colors. Oh yes, we scouted Unkar Rapid at the same time. We pull into Upper Rattlesnake (didnt see any snakes) camp and enjoy the hot temperature. My dry bag has sprung a leak so the hot flat rocks around camp are perfect dryers for my wet pillow and sleeping bag. Nearby are some rocks set like a granary. Dad and I think they are fake (built by modern river runners) but some in the group think they could be real. Denny and Dave went for a hike up the ridge before dinner. There is lots of evidence of fresh flash flooding in our camp but the evening settles in quietly with no thunderheads. Thank goodness.
Day 6 (Aug 25) Above Salt Creek
Today is a big rapids day, The Inner Gorge! I awoke to wet dew all over my formerly dry sleeping bag. There is quite the crowd at our first major inner gorge rapid, Hance. A motor rig supporting a large contingent of eastern C1 whitewater canoes run this rapid before us with the utmost grace and skill. The C1 canoes carve and cut their way through the chaos of waves and holes with no mishaps. We scout and about half of our group decides to enter right and the rest left. I chose right. This is the lowest flow I have seen at Hance but I decide to enter right and row left. I mostly succeeded with my plan but hit the left part of a big hole on the right side. At least I hit it straight! Pete always reminds me to "trust the boat" and in this case it really proves true. All ended well and it didnt seem to matter which way any of us entered. Hance swept everyone to the center right no matter which entry we each took.
Sockdologer and Grapevine were the next big rapids but the holes just werent there at this low water level. As we dropped into Sock I hunted for that monster hole on the right, it just wasnt there. Grapevine had the same effect, the hole on the left wasnt significant. Susan thought that the rapids might have changed but my guess is that the water levels changed the rapids. The hot rock walls in the inner gorge have to be seen to be believed. They look so primeval.
We stopped at Clear Creek (not at our usual cliff spot) at the beach and enjoyed walking up the streambed to the falls. Poor Bill stubbed his big toe and tore a hefty chunk off the bottom of his toe. I try to save the skin chunk to put it jokingly in our 32-mile chicken dinner day at the end of the trip (but its a joke leftover from previous trip and no one appreciates it). Bills toe doesnt heal until he gets off the river many weeks later. Every night Bill cleans and bandages it and even Irene cringes when looking at the raw flesh. Its not a pretty sight. Pete would say "looking at Bill Cooke never is".
We enjoyed a hot (short) stop at Phantom, mailed postcards, had lunch and got some mail from friends and family on the outside. My sister sent Dad and I some treats, cash for ice cold lemonade and the always appreciated spare chapstick. I know weve lost a few chapsticks already. The most recent postmark I see in the boatmens mail is Aug 6 and its Aug 25 so it appears to be quite a lag time for mule mail delivery. Louisa sums up our next big rapid, Horn Creek with exactly the right description.
I didnt run my usual left or right to left run but dumped over the hole between the horns with a loud "kerchunk" over the rock like everyone else. We came through fine but I pulled hard to the left to avoid the big hole at the bottom. Horn is harder at low water! Of course the skies and canyon walls were dark and ominous while we scouted Horn Creek rapid and we are all tired from a long day. I am so relieved that we all made it through okay, except for Louisas face bashing by the boat. The motor rigs tried to help us get an open camp above Granite and we got Salt Creek (I think). Its a nice, quiet camp on the left and we scattered to bed as the storms began after dinner. I sure do miss Pete. It would be nice to let him know that we are okay so far. I fall asleep on the boat festering about tomorrows big series of rapids starting with the wall at Granite.
Day 7 (Aug 26)- Ross Wheeler camp
Denny nails the day in his description below.
Granite was the first rapid of the day and I had a great run down the right side. Denny exclaimed that the trough of the waves were higher than our heads when climbing them. Yep, that means about 16 feet or so. The group wants to scout Hermit and this really gets me out of my routine as Ive never scouted Hermit rapid before. Until last year, I always ran Hermit (unbelievable waves) right down the middle at any flows. But after becoming more conservative and watching others flip in front of me Ive lost my nerve. I sneak it on the left. As we scout Hermit, Susan notices the funniest things. She comments on a minutely small blue flower in the path and spends some time looking at it. All I can think of is Hermit. A bear could be doing the hula on the Hermit scout path and I wouldnt even notice it. A bit Type A, do you think?! Everyone else talks about sneaking Hermit on the right and once again I wonder what they are seeing. I see NO sneak on the right (never have). At the last minute everyone agrees to go left (I never deviated from this plan) and we all do okay. I have a messy run on the left (didnt straighten up in time) and hit part of a left wave sideways. Oh well, it wasnt perfect but okay. Jethro runs the middle of Hermit but since he is way back we dont see his run. He said it was big, which I believe.
We stop for our last big scout at Crystal and all slop over the rocks on the right side. Ugly but very functional runs. Irene spies a childs "baby doll" in the eddy below Crystal and straps her like a good luck hood ornament to Daves boat as a mascot and names it Crystal. Dads cheap 11 year old well used Wal-Mart "Chevas (Tevas) fell apart today and he is using my backup sandals. Us Type As have quadruple backups so little does the group know that Dad has many cheap spare shoes to go before they all give up the ghost (which many do before the trip is over). Again, the AARPs echo their devotion to thrift stores and bargains. They must be subconsciously saving their money for their children, I guess. We run the rest of the Jewel rapids (Sapphire, Ruby, etc..) successfully. However after one small rapid I got sucked into a strong eddy and it really gave us swirly and tipped us on end.
Its nice to have the last two days behind us with no mishaps and I am looking forward to no festering and a a mental vacation the next few days. Everyone thinks Horn has been the most difficult so far but I think Granite is the most intimidating. I enjoy rowing the bigger boat but miss my 14 footer. It moves quicker and I know I can move it easier. We camp at lovely Ross Wheeler camp (great open sand beach above Shinumo Creek) and relax.
Day 8 (Aug 27)- camped below Blacktail Canyon- Forster?
It rained again and I had to drag my raft bed under the kitchen tarp with Denny and Dad. Denny had a mouse scamper across his head in the night. Not very restful. Hot and stuffy. Cloudy and cool in the morning with a stop at Shinumo waterfall. The ducky made its first appearance. Waltenberg the only rapid and not big. Warmed up nicely later in the day.
Enjoyed a peaceful stop at Blacktail Canyon with the ledges and quiet drip, drip of water falling. The shadows were a nice break from the glaring afternoon sunlight. Everyone got to enjoy the day and float as they wanted. I called Pete last night on our satellite phone (only for emergencies) to let him know that we got through the Inner Gorge okay. Only the Cookes know we have a satellite phone for emergency use only (not a group cost) on our trip. If the group is aware of a satellite phone I think it detracts from the experience. I brought a spare battery so feel okay about using the phone for a 10 minute talk with Pete at home in Colorado. I promise to call him after Lava Falls rapid later in the trip with an update.
Our beach gets huge as the water goes down and I hear beavers slapping and Bill fussing with his toe as I go to sleep.
Day 9 (Aug 28)- Tapeats- Thunder River
Dessert for breakfast is becoming a routine as many of us go to bed early. Our first stop of the day is to hunt for Fossils at the broad wash at Fossil Canyon. Specter rapid has very big standing waves and we stopped to scout Bedrock. Ive never scouted this rapid and enjoyed peeking at the "Doll House" rock structure above the rapid. Bedrock was an easy pull to the right with lots of room. We scouted Dubendorf rapid next (another first scout for me) and once again the group confounds me. I hear everyone say they will take the right run (enter right and pull right) and I dont get it. I run my standard left to right (center) run and it is fine. This group is making me doubt my eyes when we scout. I think Ive figured out not to put too much stock in their description of the runs and trust my instincts (and river reading). We are probably seeing the same thing but describing it much differently so I will try to stop letting it shake me up when our descriptions dont match. It turns out the group makes my identical run so Im sure that its just a description thing. Tapeats is open so we take this camp at the mouth of Tapeats Creek. Its a crummy (buggy, small and dirty-well used) camp but it sets us up perfectly to do the Thunder River/Deer Creek loop hike the next morning. Dave makes an evening hike to Thunder River knowing that he is going again the next morning. Dave is a hiker extraordinaire!
Day 10 (Aug 29)- Panchos camp
We camped at the white sandy beach called Panchos with a nice shady overhang. Everyone was beat and happy to have a nice camp to relax.
Day 11 (Aug 30)- Ledges
Ran some easy rapids (noticed that Kanab camp didnt look so good) and pulled into the mouth of Matkatamiba canyon.
Upset was our big rapid before camp and we scouted it and ran right. All got through okay. Ledges was open and we got to camp at lunch (a trend on this trip). Everyone seems a bit tired and cranky in camp so Louisa suggests a drinking game with Gatorade shots. With this dehydrated crowd, thats a perfect idea! Ive camped a few times at Ledges and it is always very warm. Tonight the boats are really restless and they rub each other all night. I let a few of the boat lines out at night and finally bail out of my boat to sleep on shore. Even the boat bumpers wouldnt stay in place and the noise finally got to me (even with earplugs).
Day 12 (Aug 31)- National
We leave camp early, to slip into Havasu for the day. Jethro misses the eddy at the mouth of Havasu but manages to pull into the cliff below the motor rig tie up area (in fast current). I dont know how he managed to pull in down there as it would be very tough with his heavy boat but he got tied up successfully. Jethro brought everything but the kitchen sink in his big boat. Ive figured out that his rig carries the following; guitar, ducky, laptop, cots, beds, baby pool, LOTS of beverages and food, many coolers and dry boxes (too numerous to count), video camera, weedwacker engine (a.k.a. margarita mixer), duraflame logs (fills a large dry bag), "love couch", boat gear, personal gear and more???? Jethros 19 foot self bailing Maravia is a "big" rig and it sure can take the big rapids well.
Jethro and Terra were the only ones ambitious enough to hike all the way to Beaver Falls. The rest of us enjoyed Havasu and puttered around the different pools. We floated down to National Canyon for camp. After hiking up the canyon we were stopped by a 20 foot waterfall at the end of one of the slithery pools. Dad enjoyed playing an echo game prank on an unsuspecting dory group that camped below us. They never figured out that Dad was reclining on a boulder (within plain sight) mimicking their echoes as they hiked up the canyon. Many hikers passed within a few feet of him and never saw him. They were concentrating on looking down that they never saw him. The canyons are so steep that many details can be missed while hiking but this was a whopper. We enjoyed a good laugh over his story.
Group injury report: Bill- ripped toe callous at Clear Creek (not pretty), Dave- many foot hot spots with lots of duct tape protection on raw skin (ouch), Bob- twisted knee at Matkat (using a walking stick for a cane), Irene- sore knee and many bruises (slips and falls on rocks and boat frame), Louisa-scabs, bloody noses, possible broken toe and lovely bruises- bloody shirt is looking lovely by now, Pat- sprained ankle at Upset (very puffy and bruised). The rest of us are okay for now. Today is our last cooking duty camp and we prepare a tasty ham dinner with much talk about Lava Falls rapid tomorrow. Susan showed me a nautiloid fossil on Oracle rock (large sculpted rock on beach at camp). Its also been said that if the water is at or above the base level of Oracle rock then the left run at Lava is open. The water is at the base. I have only run left at Lava and hope to again. The right side of Lava (at the levels Ive seen it) looks too big and scary. I rearranged the boat tonight to get ready for the Lava Falls run tomorrow. The trash and groovers are beginning to smell ripe. Most are getting ready for bed by 8 PM (dark) but Im festering about the rapid tomorrow. My first flip in 1992 was at Lava with my Dad. I dont want to repeat that again. Flipping is not fun!
Day 13 (Sept 1)- LAVA FALLS ESCAPADES! Whitmore camp
What are we doing running the biggest and toughest rapid in the Grand on Day 13?! Actually this is when we usually run it so I guess I wont be superstitious. We touch Vulcans Anvil for good luck and head down to scout Lava. The left run was open and we all ran left (to varying degrees). My guess is the flow is around 11-12,000 cfs.
I cant describe the Lava Falls carnage any better. Susan gives a great account in their internet story. Fortunately everyone else had safe runs and all ended well. We stopped at the Whitmore pictographs and floated gratefully into Whitmore camp tired but happy that Lava was upstream. Tonight was hot, windy and stormy again. I think today was the last of the big flows and the river should go down to 8,000 to 10,000 cfs for the remainder of the trip.
Day 14 (Sept 2)- Granite Park
We awoke to another cool morning but it warmed up nicely. The dipsticking wars became too vigorous and Louisa got a direct shot in her eye. Dad and Denny were very remorseful at making Louisas eye tear up and were very subdued the rest of the day. I advised Louisa to milk it for all she was worth and really make Denny and Dad work hard to redeem themselves. At least get them to wash her dishes tonight after dinner. Had lunch at our camp (Granite). This is our usual 32 mile day and it feels funny to stop at noon in camp. Its too hot to walk about much and we try to find shade with no ants (hard to do). These are some of our usual camp discussion topics; prairie dog (killing thereof), environmental issues (only profound topic), shapes of rocks, cliffs, etc.., how to do tasks (correctly and incorrectly), dipsticking, dipsticking strategy, camp with tarp or not, set up tent or not, weather (hot, cold, rainy) and Grand Canyon trivia. You would think with Bob and Susan Marley on the trip we would be more intellectual (NOT). Our brains are taking a break. Everyone is thoroughly enjoying doing what they want.
Denny and Louisa have really caught on to rowing and reading the river. Theyve figured out how to recognize eddies and try to stay out of them (not always easy). Quite an accomplishment. I would bet that they didnt imagine they would be rowing through the rapids before this trip started and they appear to like it. I havent seen any big horn sheep since Havasu maybe because we have entered the dry area of the canyon with less vegetation. No one seems to be playing the "Gotcha" game anymore as we just dont believe anything anyone says. There is no fooling the group anymore. I sit above the hole at Granite Park listening to the waves in the hole crash and break. I am anticipating our last full day on the river tomorrow. Its been a great trip!
Day 15 (Sept 3)- Mile 220
What a storm we had last night! I saw lightening through my closed eyelids underneath my tarp. The rain and wind whipped my tarp around. All us hid out under tarps for many hours with pelting rain pounding on my head. Poor Louisas tarp was too small and she was soaked through in the morning. Denny "tacoed" himself underneath his tarp which meant he could not move even one millimeter for fear that his tarp would whip away in the wind.
Bill started the morning by running the hole at Granite Park rapid to "clean his boat". He has a cat with no floor, what cleaning could it need for goodness sake?! I think that was a "Gotcha". Gotcha game is back. Bill, Pat and Louisa played a very sneaky "Gotcha" on Dave and Irene today. They planted an unopened full can of beer in an eddy and pretended to "find" it in front of Dave and Irene. The rest of the day, Dave and Irene scanned every eddy with pinpoint precision to find more cans of beer. But alas, they came up empty-handed, imagine that?! The pretenders confessed in camp and Dave in particular was not very pleased to hear the trick. Susan showed us a lovely rock cliff above Pumpkin Springs called Womb Rock. We stopped to look at the pictographs at Three Springs and headed down to lunch and early camp. We enjoyed swimming during the long hot afternoon. Bob and Susan made a special Birthday/Anniversary cake for me last night and it was yummy.
Day 16 (Sept 4)- Takeout day at Diamond
Dave had the craziest nightmare last night that had us all awake (except for him). Dave was sleeping in his boat next to mine and about 1 AM he stood straight up and began singing a hymn really loud. Others in camp could hear it. He then asked me who was out there and I could tell he was really confused and I told him he was having a dream. Then he proceeded to tell me he wasnt having a dream but was having a "nightmare". He finally went back to sleep when I told him he was fine, in the Grand on his boat, tied up on shore and who was here with him. The next morning he told us that he had a dream that he had floated away from shore and was drifting down the river in the dark. I know Ive woken up before with a start with that same feeling but never started singing a hymn! I guess those late night drinks gave him a wild imagination. He didnt remember any of his late night singing or conversation but did remember his dream the next morning.
We delayed leaving camp, as the Hualapai Indians at Diamond Creek have requested that all boaters show up at the takeout after 10 AM. We are only 4 miles from the takeout so we take our time leaving. Of course we worry about getting caught by building afternoon storms that can close the creek road but all is okay. The road is very rough but after a long sweaty de-rigging and loading exercise we leave the Grand Canyon after another successful trip.
As a final thank you to our fearless permit holder and trip leaders, the entire group chipped in on a pedicure for Bill and a Sportsmens Guide gift certificate for Irene. Irene informed us that no one would want to take on Bills toe , so she was taking the pedicure and Bill could buy all the camo underwear he wanted with the gift certificate. A successful end to a great trip. Thanks to Bill and Irene Cooke great leadership skills (oh yes and the permit too). Thank you also to Bob Marley for his fabulous digital photography included in this story. Thanks also goes to Louisa and Denny for sharing their personal and eloquent journals with me (and the rest of us in this story). Their journals described the Grand Canyon in a way I never could. Finally, thanks to my husband Pete who always makes me laugh and has the utmost confidence in my rowing (and remembers to remind me to stop festering at times and enjoy myself). I missed him on this trip.