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!