Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day 10 - Thunder River

Day 10 – Thunder River

I really thought that after we finished day eight that it would be mostly quiet, but then the next day I kept hearing about bedrock and Dubendorf. I vaguely remembered reading about Dubendorf, but I did not have any recollection of Bedrock.

Bedrock was the second of the main rapids that we went through on day 10. On most rapids there is usually some kind of comparison, but of the rapids I have rowed I think that Bedrock is unique. At the start the river it is going strait. As you enter the main rapid the river makes an abrupt right hand turn. In the middle of the river is a giant rock. Most of the water is flowing around the left of the rock. That is where the current is trying to take you, but it is not where you want to go. At the top of the left run there is a strong recirculating eddy with a narrow chute to try and make it through at the bottom. The right is an easier run, but there are a lot of boulders close to shore. For a good run you wait until you are past the rocks and then pull hard to the right.

Scouting Bedrock

The run went how I hoped, but it sure did not feel like it was going to. I waited until I was past the last boulder on the right and then started rowing for all I was worth. It felt like nothing was happening, and that I was destined to make a left hand run. Then almost as if by magic I was free of the main current and heading down the right run with a lot of room to spare. We did have a little drama on the river. One of the boats went too far right and got caught on the rocks. It was a little scary because they were pinned for a few minutes in an area that would have been difficult to help with.

Through Bedrock

The next rapid was Dubendorf. To be honest I am not sure exactly what happened there. It was kind of a crazy rapid. There were waves all over the place. I’m not sure that I went where I was supposed to go, but wherever I went it was a fun ride. We made it to Racetrack Camp shortly after, which was good because we had a long hike after lunch.

The Thunder River hike is quite amazing, but it really took it out of me. It was actually one of Adrienne’s favorite hikes when she went down in 2001. It was a hot day and one of the hardest parts of the hike was at the first. We hiked along the side of the canyon from our camp to Tapeats Creek. From there we started the trail. The first part of the trail is a series of switchbacks that go ever upward on a south facing wall. With the sun beating down it was a difficult climb. It is on climbs like that, when I start to feel jealous of mountain goats. Once to the top of the canyon we walked along the side of a cliff until it met up again with Tapeats Creek.

Looking Down on the First Section of Trail

View From the Top

Hiking Along the Cliff

We hiked along the side of the creek, and across it several times, for what seemed like miles and miles. By that time the heat had given me a throbbing headache. At last we came to a spot where we could see Thunder River. Thunder River looks like it is flowing right out of a cliff. It is an amazing scene. Our vantage point was also beautiful with the creek on one side and some beautiful cottonwoods on the other.

Thunder River From a Distance

A Closer View

The next thing I know the people who have been on the hike before start talking about the final push. At that point I was done. I had a terrific headache, and despite my best efforts at hydration, I felt like I had a belly full of warm water and a dehydrated body. I decided I would press on though. How bad could it be?

It seemed like the farther we walked the farther away our goal was. The trail went up the side of a mountain and every time I looked up the people ahead of me were higher up the switch backs. Not seeing the end I actually called it good and laid down to rest about 15 yard before the end of the trail. Luckily the group sent someone to get me. I had no idea how close I was to an oasis. The trip was hard, but the payoff was big. It was nice to have a refreshing spot before making the trip down. We filtered some water, rested a while and then made our way back.

Resting at the Waterfall

Looking Up at the Waterfall

On that trail even the walk back down seemed tough. When I made it to within a half mile of camp I met up with Mark, who had been my passenger for the last three days. He had hiked back from camp because he had heard I was struggling. He brought a flash light and some water. It was twilight as we made the final push down. He even offered to take my place on clean up crew that night.

When we got back to camp I got some food and water in me. I also took a bath in the cold river, and then sat in my chair with my feet in the water. It was amazing. I have never in my life had a headache disappear so quickly. I guess the grueling parts of the hike lasted a few hours, but the good parts of the memories will last a lifetime.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 9 - Elves Casm

After our big day on the river the day before day 9 seemed to be a fairly mild day as far as rapids go. There were some big ones to be sure, but they were more spread out. This day would be mostly about seeing the sights and moving down river.

Shinamu Creek

Our first stop of the day was Shinumo Creek. We could easily see the creek from our camp, but do to the landscape it was not easily accessible. It is too bad, because it is really quite a lovely spot. There is a small waterfall about 50 yards up the creek from the river. The drop is only about six feet, but it is a gusher. It would have been nice to go there the day before when I was feeling a bit hot and miserable. Our stop was short. We cooled off for a bit and then filled my empty cooler with water to be filtered later.

Under the Waterfall

I was really excited for the next stop on our trip. I had heard and read a lot about Elves Chasm. It is a little bit farther from the river than Shinumo, but it is a truly beautiful spot. The creek there carves a chasm into the rock. In one spot there is a small waterfall that pours into a pool. From the waterfall you can jump into the pool. Our group spent a long time there just doing that.

Elves Chasm

Ready to Jump

Our last diversion of the day was Blacktail Canyon. At first I was not that excited to go. It started out as a short hike over a large sun baked debris fan. When you get there it is a small slot canyon. I say that it is just a small slot canyon, which is true, but it is more than that. It has a feel to it that is hard to describe. In some ways it feels out of place. Maybe that is because to step inside feels like moving into a different world. It is cool and enclosed compared to the outside which is wide open and very hot. It also has a bit of a spooky feel. That may be a consequence of the ghost story that Nancy read to us about the canyon from one of her books. It was a place that I was a bit sad to leave.

BlackTail Canyon

The Sky from Black Tail

After our sight seeing we pushed to the Randy’s Rock Campground. A commercial group had left it open for us, which was good, because we made it there rather late.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 8 - The Big Stuff

Day eight was by far the biggest of the big water days. On that day we ran three of the canyon’s big six rapids. After you finish the big three there is still a lot of white water left. There is a series of rapids called the jewels. Each rapid is named after a different jewel. Rapids include Sapphire, Ruby, Turquoise as well as others. It is a pretty good stretch all by itself.

While we were getting ready in the morning one of our passengers, Marley asked if I had a plan for running Granite. This was before the morning scout, but after having seen the rapid the night before. My response was, “Yeah, I’m going to pick a spot and then pray.” I had never before seen a rapid quite like Granite. It was like the whole stretch of river was in chaos. There were not many spots that looked completely un-runable, but the river was full of waves that I would not hit on purpose either. In picking my line I think I mostly exercised faith in the more experienced rafters. I was pretty nervous about this rapid, because I do like having a better plan than hang on and pray. It turned out to be one of the best rides of the river.

Scouting Granite

Granite Rapid

The next rapid of the big six that we would hit was Hermit. Hermit is kind of interesting. The main part of the rapid is a nice wave train. The defining feature of Hermit is the fifth wave. It is huge, and it surges. You do not want to arrive at the fifth wave at the wrong part of the surge. We ran it at a fairly forgiving water level. I have heard many stories about the fifth wave flipping several boats in the same group. In a lot of ways Hermit had the same strategy as Granite. So I picked my spot and hoped for the best. It was a bumpy ride, but ultimately it was a good one.

The Fifth Wave Surging

Crystal rapid was the next big one for the day. Boy is it a big one. It is also one of the newer rapids on the river. It was formed by a flash flood in the sixties. It is the second highest rated rapid on the river. It is also the deadliest on the river. At the top of the rapid there is a debris fan on river right, a large eddy with a pourover on river left, and some gargantuan holes down the middle.

Some of the holes on Crystal

Our run was on the right side of the river. There are some rocks at the top of the rapid on river right. We started out just right of center at the top of the rapid. My stern was pointed downstream and to the right. After we passed the rocks I made my move to break through the tongue. After watching the first boat through I decided that I wanted to wait a little bit longer for the breakthrough. It is kind of a tough thing to wait. When you wait on this part of the rapid the current is pushing you toward the big holes. In this case patience paid off. My line was a lot easier than it would have been. It was a straight shot to the right side. From there my run was clear except for a submerged rock that briefly caught us.

My Boat after having made it through the first part

At the bottom of the rapid there is a large rock garden. It is the rock garden that really makes the rapid dangerous. It can easily trap boats and people after a bad run. A month early a commercial boat lost power in Crystal. The large boat got stuck on the rock known as big red, and was stuck there all night. The passengers were rescued by helicopter the next day. Our run was considerably better than that. I made the pull to the right of the rocks and all was well.

It is funny. When we were talking about favorite rapids that evening, everyone looked at me like I was crazy when I said Crystal was my fave. A good run through Crystal is not much of a ride. For me it was a good and a boring run, but there was a feeling of triumph about hitting a rapid like that just how I wanted to. I have literally known about this rapid for seven years. Adrienne’s family made a CD for the last run through the Grand Canyon. One of the songs was ABC by the Jackson Five. For the rafters ABC signified being Alive Below Crystal.

Even with three big rapids and three scouts to go with them we made pretty good time. We decided to break plan and keep running straight through to camp. The main reason is that our intended destination, Bass Camp, is extremely popular. This meant that we would not be able to have our planned lunch of tuna sandwiches, on Tuna Beach, below Tuna Rapid. You can’t win them all!

It is really too bad that the Jewels come right after such an intense section of river. They were some pretty fun rapids. After the big three I think I may have been to worn out to enjoy them.

Our camp that evening was another hot one. Some people went on hikes in the area, but I was too wiped out. I spent the afternoon reading and sleeping. That night we decided to pull out the black lights. They are for finding scorpions. It was kind of scary because we found a lot of them. I guess that is one of the advantages of sleeping on the boat.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Emily decided to give herself a haircut. I guess she doesn't realize how long it's taken for her hair to get to this point! She also took a piece out of the top and cut Max's in a couple of spots. She is now banned from using scissors.


Since the kids have so many dress up clothes I decided to not make any costumes this year to cut down on my stress. Max decided early on that he wanted to be a pirate and Emily was a fairy. She wanted to be a princess, but all of her princess dresses are too big on her and after one of them got ripped at my dad's Halloween party I was pushing hard for a costume that fit on her. My neighbor had a little cheer-leading costume that we borrowed for little Janey to wear.

We had our neighborhood trunk or treat and chili cook off on Saturday early in the evening so that everyone could get home in time to go trick or treating, which I think is silly because why do we need to do both? I'm not a fan of trunk or treats anyway because I want my kids to have to WORK for their candy! ;) (I do think they serve a purpose if you live in a place you would not feel comfortable taking your kids trick or treating in, but that just doesn't apply to our neighborhood.) However, since it started raining during the chili cook off I was glad that we had the option of not taking the kids trick or treating.

A little after we got home the rain calmed down and the kids wanted to go out trick or treating so Jeff took them out for a little bit just up and down our street. Apparently Emily started doing a little diabolical laugh when people would give her candy.

It was a fun night but it just didn't feel like Halloween to me. I think the fact that I didn't do anything to get us ready for Halloween played a big part in that, because not only did I not sew any costumes I also never bothered to get out my fall decorations this year. Oh well, I think I'll just wait to decorate until Christmas!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Forever Family

Last Saturday we were able to be with my sister and her family in the Logan Temple as they had their ten month old twin boys sealed to them. It was such a wonderful day and one that many people have been praying and hoping for for several years, especially my sister and her husband and daughter. I can't even describe the feelings of being there in the temple with them and how special a day it was. I know that my children are sealed to me, but their is something very special about actually getting to witness a sealing happening. We are so happy for Erin and Brian that they were able to add more children to their family! Brock and Isaac are the cutest little boys and as different from each other as can be. They are both so cute is such different ways. It has been so fun to have them in our family! Congratulations, Erin and Brian! We are so happy for you and your wonderful little family!!

Brock, Brian, Ellie, Erin, and Isaac coming out of the temple after the sealing

I love Isaac's little face in this picture with that cute little smile and finger at his mouth. He always gives such shy, sweet smiles!

Brock was being a little fussy about having to be still for so many pictures, so Brian tried a few with him upside down. He still wasn't very happy.

I have to brag a little about Ellie's dress that I made for the temple because it turned out so beautiful. I am always so happy when something turns out like I envision it, and this dress definitely turned out great. Now I'm trying to find an excuse to make one for Emily.

I love that we were able to be at the Logan Temple for a sealing right around our anniversary. It's so neat to remember that seven years ago Jeff and I were sealed in this same beautiful temple.

We had some problems with Emily "wandering" into the pictures. I guess she really wants to be a part of Erin and Brian's family.

And of course, Jeff with our own sweet Baby Jane. I'm so grateful for my own little Forever Family!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Driller

Yesterday Max got a Halloween pencil in a goody bag at a party so that afternoon I showed him how to use the pencil sharpener to sharpen his pencil. Later in the day he was digging through our junk drawer and found all of our non sharpened pencils.

First thing this morning when he come's in my room he asks, "Now where's Dad's driller? I need to drill those pencils!"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Magic Grandma's Carnival

The theme for this years Halloween party was magic. The kids got to make wands, get tattoos, and have their fortunes told. Then they got to watch Magic Grandma's magic show.

Max went as a pirate this year and Emily decided she wanted to be Belle.

And of course, it is always fun to hang out with cousin Ellie. I'm sure it will be even funner when Brock and Isaac are big enough to play, too.

Jane isn't big enough to participate yet, but she's a cutie anyway. I can't believe how big she is getting and how lucky I am to have such a sweet baby!

Thanks for such a fun night, Dad and Sharon!!

*Erin - I hope you don't mind that I "borrowed" some of the photos off your post!*

The Pumpkin Patch

A couple of weeks ago we were able to go to a local pumpkin patch with some of the neighbors. They had the cutest little maze, the perfect size for little kids.

The kids had fun looking at all the different types of squash, gourds, and pumpkins

They also loved jumping across the hale bales.

After all the running and jumping, we got one of the little carts they have on the farm and loaded up some pumpkins for our little family. Hopefully we can get them carved before Halloween.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spittin' Image

The other day at the fabric store I ran into an old neighbor. We said hi and she commented on us having a new baby and right before we moved on she told Emily, "You are just the spitting image of your dad!". As we were walking away, Emily yelled, "I'm not spittin!!" I explained, "She's just saying you look like Daddy." To which Emily replied, "I don't look like Daddy, I look like Mommy!" I guess Emily is sick of getting told how much she looks like Jeff.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day - 7 The Exchange

I knew that we were camped close to Phantom Ranch the night before, but I had no idea how close. The boater’s beach was just around the bend. Brian and Seth had done an early morning float down to the boaters beach so that those hiking out could get an early start. We thought we would have to wait for the people hiking in, but that did not prove a problem. The kayakers were so excited that they started hiking early. That made it easy for us. We were able to make the quick hike from boaters beach to Phantom Ranch without having to wait. It was kind of interesting to see buildings and people. Going to an actual bathroom was kind of nice to.

From Phantom I was able to make my call home. It was nice to be able to talk to Adrienne and the kids. It is hard to describe how nice it was to talk to someone who was so excited to talk to me. It also touched my heart when Adrienne told me how well the ward was taking care of her. Honestly, being in the dark as I was, I thought maybe they were going a little overboard. Adrienne almost let it slip, but she made sure not to tell me why she was being taken care of so well. A few days earlier our baby had spent a night in the hospital. Under the circumstances I appreciate her keeping it from me. Jane was okay, and at that point the only thing that I would have been able to do would be to worry. It was so nice to talk to Adrienne that I was really sad when we had to hang up.

We hung around Phantom Ranch for awhile. One of there biggest sellers there is lemonade. Once they are done with the lemonade they fill the bottles with water and freeze them. Then they sell the ice to boaters that are coming through. It is quite the business they have going. We bought all of their lemonade bottles and a few bags of ice, which then had to be carried to the boat. As hot as the day was, I think the bag of ice I had was one of the most pleasant loads I have ever carried.

Once back at the boats we met our new members of the group and had lunch. There were two kayakers, Curtis and Jon, as well as Mark who would spend most of the rest of the trip on my boat. The group was not lacking in enthusiasm. That first day the kayakers were practically giddy with excitement. I don’t think they could have wiped the grins off their faces if they had wanted to.

After lunch we made our way down river. There was only one big rapid for the day but it was a dozy. Horn Creek is one of the big six. It is easier at higher water so we had planned to go when the water would be at its peak. There really is not a good scout for this one. There are two rocks on this one called the horns. One was more in the center than I was expecting, the other is on the left. The run is right between them. For some reason Craig was in front of me when we went through. He ended up taking a run that went over the right horn. Because of the drop I could not see his run well, but it looked like a crazy ride. He made it through all right though. There was a funny moment afterward when Curtis paddled up next to him and yelled, “Nice Run.” At first Craig thought he was being made fun of, but kayakers are different breed. Curtis saw the run and though it just looked fun.

We arrived at camp a short time later. Monument Creek camp offers a great view of Granite rapid. The first thing we did when we got there was to watch a commercial group run the rapid. It was kind of scary to see the rapid at high water. It was like the whole stretch of river left to right top to bottom was full of gigantic waves. There was so much big water I did not really see a path that I wanted to take.

We went back to camp, where I tried not to think about the next day. Granite would be the first of three big rapids the next day. In addition to those there would be several other rapids that are big in their own right. Luckily that afternoon I found a nice spot to set up my cot for the afternoon. It was a spot nestled under a tree at the bottom of a cliff. I do not think the spot gets hardly any sun. I was able to curl up and take a fantastic nap. It was good to get some rest. The next day would be the biggest water day of the trip.