Rafting the Grand Canyon

June 5th

I woke up this morning to the pitter-patter of rain on the tent. It stopped soon after and stayed dry all through breakfast. Breakfast was gingerbread pancakes with ham and applesauce. Joel made the pancakes while I packed up our camp. The pancakes were a big hit.

Entering Middle Granite Gorge
We all got into our warmest gear. If you dress so warmly that you are hot, it is bound to get sunny. Right? However it stayed cold for a while.

The first little ripple below our camp barely had any waves, and we stayed dry until a large whirlpool twirled along the left side of our boat then sucked the front of the boat down below water level. Alex estimated it to be three feet deep. Luckily we stayed upright. I've seen boats flip in whirlpools.

Our first big rapid, i.e. not a riffle, was Specter (mile 129, rating 5). It had giant waves that broke occasionally. We got totally soaked on the biggest wave, but it was a blast. Also the sun had started shining through just a little. When it peeked out from the clouds it was quite warm in all my gear.

The Dollhouse
We stopped just above Bedrock Rapid to see the Dollhouse. It is a large granite and schist rock formation, that has been cut by the river to make distorted rooms with sandy bottoms. We crawled through holes in the rocks to get to and from the rooms.

The men started throwing skipping stones. Alex and Ben did this at almost every stop but this time the others got into it too.

Then it was on to Bedrock Rapid (mile 130, rating 8). It was an easy rapid, just go right of the enormous rock sticking up. I can only assume it had such a high rating because if you mess up, you can get in deep trouble. Alex looked at the left run, which is not recommended, and thought it was runable. Maybe so, but I'm glad we took the right.

A mile down was Deubendorff Rapid (mile 132, rating 7), a mass of choppy high waves, with no real way to avoid them, but they weren't dangerous either. We stopped at the Stone Creek camp below to have lunch. A couple of commercial groups stopped here too during our stay. They had their passengers hike up to the first waterfall of Stone Creek then come back to eat.

Our lunch was canned chicken, the ubiquitous squeeze cheese, Chex mix and crackers. We ate the last of our bread yesterday and it is crackers from now on.

After lunch we had a group council to decide what to do. We could camp here and hike Stone Creek and do the Tapeats/Deer Creek hike (maybe 8 miles long) tomorrow. Or we could do the 15 minute hike to the first waterfall and do the Tapeats/ Deer Creek hike this afternoon, something no one wanted to do since it was already getting a little late and the hike takes about 5 hours. We decided to hike Stone Creek today and have everyone back by 3:30 then go down to Tapeats campsite, camp there tonight and do the long hike in the morning.

Bright Angel Shale
When the hike started up, my mom, Judy S. and I decided not to hike far. So we dawdled a bit at the first waterfall. Then made the hike back down the creek until we found the path up around the falls to the next level. We saw another falls as we were up on the ridge. We didn't see a good way to get to it. So we just admired it from a distance. As we got around the corner, we saw evidence of an old fire. Burnt trees had new growth coming from the base. Some cacti were dead, some were trying to re-grow.

We hiked up for a ways until we got to the perfect bathing pool, then took a bath in the cold water. Yes it had gotten sunny and hot during lunch, and although it threatened a bit the clouds held off and we baked on the hike up.

Rock formation up Stone Creek
While coming down we disturbed a rock squirrel. He ran back to his underground tunnels and stared at us. When my mother went for her camera it disappeared underground.

Later we saw the most beautiful lizard. It was bright orange and had an orange and black striped tail. When he first saw me he ran but after I had been standing there a while he became curious and started coming closer, and did his little pushup dance.

Waterfall up Stone Creek
The insects are colored so beautifully down here. Earlier I had seen a black beetle with vivid red spots. On this hike I saw the most brilliant grasshopper. It was green, yellow and had intense orange markings.

When we got back to the boat Paul was reading under his sunshade. He told us a commercial group had given him three blocks of ice, an appreciated gift. Another group had landed at our beach and decided to make camp here (after they made sure we weren't camping here).

In general the Stone Creek hike was a strange hike because the group tended to split up. They went up to the base of the redwall which including following the stream and then scampering up a scree slope. Joel was hiking up with Sue, and they basically stopped halfway up the slope because it was so treacherous and came down from there.

Everyone was supposed to return to the boat by 3:30 or so. But it was at least until 5:00 and perhaps longer until the last people came marching out of the canyon. When Joel and Sue got to the boats of course everybody thought, "oh, the group is just coming back now". That was not the case. About 15 or 20 minutes after they got back, Jo Ann walked out and we assumed the rest of the group with behind her. But no, Jo Ann and had turned back early as well. And so it went as people came out in ones and twos claiming that "no," they separated from the group too. Earl and Paul had taken their boats down earlier to snag us a camp around Tapeats Creek. Mom wouldn't let anyone else leave. She was worried I think.

We were all glad when the four errant hikers showed up and we took off down to camp. We camped at the upper Tapeats campsite (mile 133) on river right. Joel seemed very irascible when we got in. I found out he had gotten a rash, so I told him to go deal with his rash and let me set up the tent. Afterwards I went down to the creek and bathed and washed my hair, then did laundry.

I helped out with dinner by making the coleslaw. It seemed appropriate since I had dehydrated it over a month ago. We had ham, yams, pineapple, coleslaw, and canned green beans. Dinner seemed less desperate since it was warmer today and people didn't need the calories as much. I had my Oreos for dessert, everyone else was eating some kind of Jell-O cookie cheesecake.

As I was on the shitter right before bed, I saw the sun set right in the notch of the canyon. It was the latest sunset we've had, most of the time it sets behind high canyon walls. I dashed back to the camera to take a picture but couldn't get a good one.

Mom was sad today thinking that this would be the last Grand trip that she would take. She said she was getting too old for all the work and sitting on a raft all day. She didn't know seven years ago that it would be the last Middle Fork trip, but she doesn't think she will do that again either. She wants one more small river trip to take her grandchildren down the Green River (if only we can get a permit).

Beached boats


Glen Canyon Dam was made to store water and for power generation. So it is not surprising that the dam releases water according to the runoff and the power demand. It creates most of its power during the day when demand is highest and less at night when people are asleep. Thus the Grand Canyon "tides" are created. Some of the guide books actually have tide tables that tell you how long it takes the water to get from the dam to selected sites along the river. This morning when we woke up the tides had gone out and all the boats were beached. At lunch we noticed the water coming up again.

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Photo Index | June 5th Photos

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Please contact Daphne Gould for comments or problems.