Joel and I slept in this morning. Everyone was up and we woke up to the shout, "Yeee ha," to tell us that breakfast was about to be all eaten. So I got up quickly. This is the first morning we've not gotten up to help with breakfast. Breakfast was hot cereal, granola and bacon, also banana chips. After breakfast Joel and I rushed to get packed up since we were behind.
We loaded up the boats but only went a few hundred yards downsteam to pull in at Tapeats Creek. Some of us were hiking over Surprise Valley to Deer Creek, some were just hiking up a ways then coming back to the boats. Joel and I decided to take a boat down to stop at Christmas Tree Cave, then we would head on down to the falls at Deer Creek and wait for the others.
The river closed in as we went down and entered Granite Narrows. This area has the river's narrowest point, only 76 feet wide. When we arrived at Christmas Tree Cave (mile 135), Joel didn't like climbing up in the slippery algae encrusted rocks. So I swung the boat out farther to an easier spot on the cliff to climb.
|Christmas Tree Cave|
It was fun for Joel and I to be off from the others exploring by ourselves. Granite Narrows was peaceful. I let the boat drift down very slowly. All that could be heard was the water slapping the sides of the canyon, the wind occasionally ruffling some nylon, and the calls of the ever-present birds hidden among the rocks and trees. As we drifted down Joel spotted a bighorn sheep feeding at the waterline. As we got closer he picked up his head to stare at us, but we must not have appeared threatening because he was soon back to munching the thick growth along the shore.
Deer Creek (mile 136) was not quite so peaceful. A large Hatch trip was parked there, three large boats. We sat by the river and lounged at the waterfall near the bottom watching the tour groups go in and out, occasionally screaming as they tried to swim under the strong water. Deer Creek falls is huge, over 100' tall. The force of the water sends waves out from the bottom of the falls and a large cloud of mist billows out soaking the rocks in its path.
|Bottom of Deer Creek Falls|
|Hiking above the slot|
Deer Creek gets more than rafters, it gets hikers from the rim too. There are several established campsites in the area including along the Deer Creek trail. We ran across a very unusual artifact. Right there in the middle of the desert was a composting toilet for use by hikers. Joel and I had to try it. But since it was a composting toilet, it was right in the sun and when I sat down . . . Ouch!
|Start of the slot|
|Deer Creek Source|
On the way down we took pictures. The barrel cactus was in full bloom. The flowers make a yellow circle around the top of the cactus. There were lizards scampering about and Joel saw a rock squirrel.
From the view coming down we could see the lush creek bed wending its way down to the slot. This was in start contrast to the dry desert surrounding it. The creek itself was covered in foliage in the flat area above the slot canyon. Watercress (I think) was growing in the creek itself and other plants were hanging over it, dripping into the water. The path did not follow the creek closely since it was too thick, but wandered through the desert section next to the creek.
Many years ago there was a fire in the creek. There are corpses of large cottonwoods. Interesting black and gray patterns cover the dead trees.
|The bath and showers|
Joel - " Coming down from Deer Creek seems much longer than going up. I've already been over this trail so it is much less interesting. The rocks have become very hot where I put my hands. And I spent a lot of time looking at my wife dirty butt bobbing in front of me (Editor's note: Hey! My butt was just fine, it was my pants that were dirty, besides if you don't like the view . . .). To top it all off we can look down upon the beach where our group has set up lunch to see the vultures picking clean the table."
Joel and I ate lunch at the bottom and chugged some water There was a ton of food but some had stolen our granola bars (sob) and I wanted sugar. So I put some jelly on my sausage and hey it wasn't bad. (Editor's note: See they left us some food.)
|View from above Deer Creek Falls|
This evening disaster struck. Judy who was fetching the dinner supplies out of one of the boats let a knife slip right into the back tube of the boat. Somebody quickly put their finger on the hole and they were able to patch it before the boat sank. Actually it was a small hole and it give the male members of our group something productive to do before dinner.
Dinner was beef stew over noodles. We had a ton of food. I wasn't that hungry but Alex ate his usual truckload of food.
This far into the trip we had started to run out of supplies, although we were still in pretty good shape. The ice had run out a couple of days ago, as planned (though it was replenished by a commercial trip at Stone Creek). And now everything we were eating was dried or canned. When we needed to make a cake we used dried eggs and when we needed to have cereal we used dried powdered milk. But thanks to Judy's wonderful planning, every meal had enough food and magically came out of some box somewhere or other ready to be made. We were mostly through our charcoal and were now rationing our powdered eggs for the three remaining cakes for the trip. But having just switched to our third tank of propane (out of four), we believed that we were still in good shape.
I went to sleep to the sound of conversation. The men's voices were like the river sounds, low and melodious. Each wave or person was not easily distinguishable by itself but all blended together in a low murmur. The women were like the birds with high-pitched twitters where each sound was easily identifiable.
At this point, I would like to expound upon our nightly ritual. Every night when we take a campsite (hopefully one currently unoccupied), the great unloading happens. We basically take most of the supplies off the boats except for the boxes, which are actually part of the frames. The kitchen box from our boat usually comes up first, dragged up the hill by two husky guys and is set up in the kitchen area. Then comes the ammo can, which is set up around corner, so that people that have been holding it in all day can have their shot at it.
Daphne and I have two dry bags, two wet bags, a camera case, two chairs and two water bottles, which have to be brought up every evening. One dry bag contains all the tent supplies, and every night one of the first things we do is select a campsite and set up the tent.
Actually I should mention this bit about selecting a campsite. Some campgrounds are better than others. For the ones that aren't quite as good, the best campsites go quick. We've made it into somewhat of a game to be on the raft to get to shore first so you can run up and take your pick of the best campsites leaving the dregs for the others (Hurry Alex row faster!). Of course some of the boatman just sleep on the sand or on the boats and aren't bothered by this at all.
Anyway, the tent gets set up as soon as it starts to get dark (we don't set up earlier to avoid creating a haven for rattlesnakes). We have one dry bag, which contains all of the supplies going into the tent, making it very easy. We simply open the dry bag, put up the tent and start shoving bags in.
I usually then take the chance to change from my wet nylon river clothing into dry clothes for shore. Changing into my regular glasses out of my boating glasses, and switching into my sandals to keep my feet cool.
Then the ritual washing of the shoes and rinsing out of the socks which requires scampering across one of the rafts to do it in the river water to keep the sand from getting baked on as the shoes and socks dry overnight.
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Please contact Daphne Gould for comments or problems.