Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
On day five we awoke with a scream. It was not so much the first two snakes in the groover area that made Lee scream. There was a king snake that had killed a rattle snake in our bathroom area. As Lee decided to make her exit it was the third snake, a rattler, which elicited the scream. Frankly she showed great restraint. I think that placed in the same situation I would have screamed like a school girl.
Nancy called into the KSL outdoors program on the sat phone later in the morning. The hosts seemed to like the snake story. They also thought it funny when she mentioned that “unfortunately” three of her daughters could not be on the trip because they had babies this year. After she lost reception Shannon pointed out to Nancy that she said something that she probably did not mean to. Afterwards Nancy made sure to tell me that it is not unfortunate that we had a baby this year, and that she loves baby Jane. All three daughters thought it was actually pretty funny.
The first major stop of the day was the Little Colorado River. It is normally a beautiful turquoise color. A few weeks earlier the river flashed, and it has been muddy since then. Apparently something above us also flashed. When we went to bed the night before the river was mostly clear. When we woke up it was muddy. It would stay that way for the rest of the trip.
After the Little Colorado there was a major shift in scenery. The cliffs are still high above us, but now the rims are as far as ten miles apart. The rock instead of red sandstone is now more earth toned at river level. The other consequence is that now it is much hotter.
We ate lunch at Tanner Flats. It was really hot. It is less than two miles away from a place called Furnace Flats. It definitely felt like we were in a furnace. After lunch we went to some Indian ruins that are in the area. There is a big rock called the birthing chair. It looks like a chair and has carvings all over it. I do not know if it was actually used for birthing, but since that would be cool that is the story that I am going with.
Our camp for the evening was Cardenas. We got there fairly early so we got to rest again. It was a little harder to enjoy, because Cardenas was a fairly warm camp. It did have some fairly good shade. We had fun playing games. We got a good game of Werewolves going that night. I think I was a little nervous that night. The next three days would bring five of the big six rapids. It was time to get ready.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
We started off the morning at Saddle the same as every other morning. We ate breakfast, cleaned up, and loaded our boats. The Commercial group left before we did so we moved our boats to their spot which was deeper. Then we set off on the hike up Saddle Canyon. I was a little bit leery about hiking due to my previous headache from hiking, but I though I had better give it a try.
I took the trail slow and easy especially at first. It was a warm day and the trail was right in the sun. To be honest at first I was not sure if it was going to be worth it. Then we made it to the canyon. It was shady and at the end of our hike there was a small waterfall. It is hard to describe just how refreshing the side canyons are. It is like magically going from feeling beat to complete refreshed in seconds.
After the hike we left for what would be a very short day on the river. We went about five miles down river to the Nankoweep Camp. The crazy thing is that on this section of river our map listed no named rapids. There was nothing huge, but something in that stretch had to at least merit a two on the rating scale.
For most of the afternoon we just sat in the shade on the river bank and cooled our heels in the river. As much as I like being on the river it is sure nice to get in early and be able to relax. Our activity for most of the day consisted of telling the kind of riddles where you give a few hints and the other person tries to guess the answer by asking yes or no questions. We also had the chance to take a bath while the sun was still out. This is important because being less than a day away from the Glen Canyon Dam, the water is numbingly cold.
We decided that we would hike to the Nankoweep Granaries after dinner when the temperature would be much cooler, and we would be out of direct sunlight. It didn’t take long to realize that the hike was going to undue any good that the earlier baths may have done. It was a fairly tuff hike, and I was drenched in sweat by the time we got to the granaries. I keep thinking of the people who lived there a thousand years ago, and carried their corn for storage up there. The hike however was one of my favorites. We were up top at around dusk which is one of my favorite times of day, and the view down the canyon was spectacular. With a canyon that big I think it helps to be halfway up so you can take in the scene above and below. It was pretty dark for the hike out, but we made it.
The night ended back in camp with desert, and the game of snaps. If you don’t know what the game of snaps is just ask me the next time you see me. I will be happy to help you learn how to play. I’ve actually gotten pretty good at calling the game, though not as good as my friend Theron who taught me to play in the first place.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Our group started the day out by exploring the area around camp. We arrived too late and too tired the night before to do anything but set up camp, eat and head off to bead. There are some Indian granaries on the side of one of the cliffs, and Stanton’s Cave is on the other. Stanton’s cave is where one of the ill fated trips stowed their gear then hiked out having decided the roaring twenties was enough for them. The day before I had developed a headache on our hike. This happens to me in the heat sometimes. I decided to take it easy to try and avoid the same fate on this day, so I skipped the hikes. It gave me the chance for some alone time. I wrote part of a letter, drank lots of liquid and tried to stay in the shade.
Day three was mostly a sight seeing day. It was a day when a camera would have come in handy, but alas I currently only have one photo from the day. There were some rapids, but mostly we were either pushing along or stopping to see some of the sights.
The first stop was at Redwall Cavern. The cavern was formed by floods on the Colorado that cut into the cliff wall as the canyon turns. John Wesley Powell described as capable of holding fifty thousand people. But then again he was prone to exaggeration. Current estimates are that it could hold five thousand closely packed. When I saw it to be honest at first I was under whelmed. From the river you simply cannot appreciate the immensity of it. It is quite a striking place, and when you get to the back you realize it is huge. We took a big group photo with our silhouette spelling out August 2010.
The second stop of the day was at Nautiloid Canyon where we stopped for lunch. Up the canyon there are several Nautiloid fossils that can be seen. I again skipped the hike fearful of another headache. In hind sight I probably should have opted for the cool relief of the side canyon. The other cool thing we saw was from the river. There is an old Anazai bridge crossing a small gap in the ledge. The only thing one can think upon seeing it is to wonder who would be walking up there.
Our Camp for the evening was at Saddle Canyon. Luckily lower Saddle is a rather large camp, because we were forced to share with a commercial group who made it there first. Sharing a camp is not bad, though it does strike against what we are acustomed to on the river. We had enough room for everything but the groover. For those uninitiated in things of the river the groover is the camp porta toilet. In my river experience the only possible worse spot we have had was last year on Cataract Canyon. There we camped on a completely barren sandbar which made use of only distance and dark of night for privacy.
That night we had steaks for dinner, which was a good thing. The commercial group also had steaks and we certainly would not have wanted to be outdone by them. We also had a night of dumb jokes and other general silliness. I am not sure why but we were in a bit of a silly mood after dinner. I laughed so hard my sides hurt. Right when we were getting ready to go to bed the guides from the other group came by to say hello. It was interesting to talk to them, and get their perspective on the canyon. The only problem was that I really feared we were making a nuisance to those who had beat us to bed. The guides were many things, but quite was not one of them. They soon left though, and while they remained noisy I felt much better not being a part of the noise.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Weight: 13.1 lbs. 95%
Length: 24.5 in. 98%
Head: 15.9 in. 88%
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Max is still loves order and structure and still loves to organize and group his toys when he plays.
The other day we were in downtown Salt Lake and Emily was getting mad that I had stopped the car and yelling for me to go. I was explaining to her how I couldn't go because I would hit the cars in front of me and we would get hurt when Max piped in, "Yea, but I won't get hurt because I have a ban-baide (band-aide) on my knee."
Max is still figuring out the meaning of words that have to do with time. He's always asking to just stay up for "just" one or two more hours, talking about something that happened last week that happened the day before or maybe several months ago, etc. He also likes me to hold up my hands to show him how long it is when I tell him we will do something or his show will be on in half an hour, a few hours, ten minutes, etc. (I have the hardest time "showing" him how long half an hour is.) I love it when I ask him when something he is talking about happened he will say, "hmm, last Thursday" or "next week".
After I made a comment about Max smelling stinky, Max sniffed his hand and said, "No I don't, I smell fresh."
After packing up in the morning we made our way the short distance down river to the scout for House Rock. It was a little intimidating for me. The last rapid that I scouted was big drop number three on Cataract Canyon. That was by far my worst run through a rapid ever. On House Rock Rapid there are obstacles at the top right, and really crazy hydraulics and a cliff wall on the bottom left. The idea is to get right as soon as you are past the obstacles. The run I made was almost exactly like the run I planned. I set up center right, pointed my stern to the right, waited for my moment, and then rowed for everything I was worth. It was a big confidence boost to have the first big rapid under my belt, even if it was not one of the big six.
After House Rock we visited North Canyon. It is a pretty side canyon where we hiked and later had lunch. It is really fun to go into the small side canyons after being in the large main canyon.
Then it was off to row the Roaring Twenties. This is not the hardest section of the canyon, but there are a lot of rapids in ten miles. In reading about this section I read about early trips and the people who drowned on those trips. Additionally I had heard that most flips happen in that section of the canyon. By the time you get to the really hard stuff you are a seasoned pro.
So it was that in Indian Dick rapid we had a flip. When a raft flips it is no fun at all. First you have to catch the raft and most importantly the people on the raft. Keep in mind that they are both moving targets that are not necessarily going down the river the way you would choose to go. Once you have gotten the people and raft to safety you have to flip the raft right side up and get everything together. The only thing I can compare it to is being involved in a car accident. There is a lot of rehashing of the incident and wondering what went wrong. To be honest I feel a little bad that I was so happy that it was not me who flipped. Fortunately the only damage from the flip was a lost hat. The rest of the rapids went well. I felt good about most of my runs, and I felt good about being through the roaring twenties. Now I really hoped that by the next big water day I would be a seasoned pro.
Our camp that night was at South Canyon. The camp was nice, but it was my least favorite place to park our boats. The beach was covered with driftwood. As the water rose through out the night, a consequence of changing flows from the dam, our boats would rise and hit the driftwood. In addition the water was very turbulent. Which meant our boats would be constantly crashing into the driftwood despite our best efforts to clear a spot for them. Luckily Driftwood is mostly smooth. With all of waves I was getting a bit sea sick so I decided to abandon sleeping on the boat and head for shore. Below is a picture looking from our camp south toward Vasey's Paradise and Stanton's cave
Monday, September 13, 2010
There is something strange about actually shoving off on a rafting trip. With most things in life you can turn back if things start to go wrong. With rafting once you are on the river you are committed failing a major injury or some such thing there is no turning back. On Tuesday it was time to go. First we had to have our talk with the ranger. He checked our IDs, gave us a safety and stewardship talk, and assigned us our ravens. Ours were named Sundance and Ella. They accompanied us throughout the canyon. It is just a running joke for the rangers, but if I did not know better I would swear that we really did have our own pair of Ravens. After the talk we put in. We crossed the first riffle and headed down stream. A few miles later we were staring up at the Navajo Bridges 470 feet above us as we crossed underneath. It felt like crossing a line. We were leaving civilization behind for the next 276 miles.
For the past year or so I have been trying to figure out what I would be facing in terms of the river that I would be rowing. When I asked for a comparison to the rapids that I knew I was told that, “Nothing you have rowed compares to the rapids on the Grand Canyon.” As you can imagine this was not very comforting. About ten miles into the trip, I got my chance to see what the rapids were like. Badger Creek and Soap Creek are the first real rapids of the trip. According to my map they rate a five on a scale of ten. They were fun. They were two of my favorite rapids, but my goodness those waves were huge. If those were fives, I thought, what would the nines look like? To be honest it scared me a little.
Our camp for the first day was at Hot Na Na. It was a nice little camp, and it overlooked House Rock Rapid which was just down river. House Rock is the first rapid big enough that we needed to scout, but more about that tomorrow.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
I started out on the trip on the morning of August 15, 2010. It was sad leaving Adrienne and the children, especially knowing the sacrifice that Adrienne was making on my behalf. I’ve been joking over the last year about building up my good husband karma so that I could go on the trip. I think at this point I’ve burned through my cumulative lifetime total and then some.
I made the drive to my Mother-in-Law’s house in American fork where we were meeting. We loaded the gear onto the trailers and then hit the road. The Drive to Lee’s Ferry was fairly uneventful. We stopped for a last meal in page and then drove to the put in. I must say that the weather at the put in was hot, scary hot. The campground had been baking in the sun all day. It really made me hope things would be better close to the river. In that campground my sleeping bag was superfluous at night, I could only imagine what daytime would bring.
We were told that that we would not be able to rig until at least 10:00 AM the next morning. Fortunately we received word early Monday morning that we could unload our equipment and start rigging immediately. I was also told that rigging is usually an all day affair, but thanks to the efforts of our trip leader and several people who went to help early the days before we were able to finish rigging before we even ate lunch. From there we rowed our boats down to the private boaters’ beach and had the rest of the day off.
That gave us a chance to do a few fun things. We visited the ranch at Lee’s ferry and took the self guided tour. We also drove to Navajo Bridge a few miles downstream. The bridge goes from rim to rim in that part of the canyon. There is an old bridge and a new bridge. The old is open to foot traffic and provides a beautiful view of both the canyon and the river below. It was kind of daunting looking down at the river and watching the currents and eddy lines. I knew in a few hours I would be passing underneath, and once on the river there would be no turning back.
One nice thing about Lee’s ferry is that it now has cell service. After dinner I was able to call Adrienne and talk for quite a while. It was so nice to have such a long pleasant conversation with her before being separated for so long.