Rafting the Grand Canyon

June 10th

We were going to sleep in this morning since we had few miles to go and no long side canyons to explore, but not everybody got the message. We were slower to get ready in the morning, however.

Today is our 15th anniversary, and I found an anniversary card by my luggage as I was packing up. Joel and I read it together. It had messages from everyone on the trip.

Joel wanted a group photo this morning before we left. After packing up, everyone lined up. We took two pictures, one in front of the bushes, one in the front of the river. Earl was none too pleased with the process, but put up with it for us.

The Hatch commercial boats must use a helicopter to get their people out just below Lava. This morning while we were at camp an empty Hatch boat motored by. And further downriver a second empty Hatch boat motored by.

A sick bat that enthralled many our our party at Parashant Wash
Ben Harding decided that this morning was perfect time to learn to run the motor boat. He had been our third injury of the trip (not counting teva blisters). It seems while skipping rocks with the boys he hurt himself. Then kayaking he aggravated it more. So with his kayak strapped up front Ben was learning the basics of running the motor boat when the empty Hatch boat went by. Naturally this was a challenge. Ben revved up the motor and tried to keep pace but with the kayak up front providing drag and four people on their boat compared to two on the massive Hatch rig, it was no contest.

Fossilized worm tracks
At Parashant Wash (mile 198) there was an enigma on our map called the "Book of Worms". We didn't know what it was, and we didn't know where it was, all we knew was what it was called. We landed at a side canyon where the elusive Book of Worms resides. We were prepared to hike forever, if necessary, to find this tourist attraction . . . or at least until we got hot.

So we set off up the wash. The Book of Worms turned out to be a large section of rock filled with fossilized worm tracks. The worm tracks were incredibly thick. The best patch was just past the large section of rock in the wash (almost looking like a book on the ground with the pages standing up). A section of Bright Angel Shale facing the wash was covered with the fossils. Earl also found what we thought were trilobite fossils.

Trilobite fossils
We pushed off again looking for a good lunch spot. Paul who was in the lead found no shade, but was getting very hungry so pulled over at a beach. He set up his umbrella over the tables to shade them. We had tuna, sardines, Velveeta, crackers, raisins, and tootsie rolls.

Joel on lunches - "The dynamics of lunches are a marvel to see. Every night before, Judy packs lunch in the red lunch box on our boat. When the lead boatman gets hungry or at some other predetermined time, he pulls in to shore and everybody follows.

"Quickly one, and sometimes two blue tables, are set out on the sand. One water jug is brought out for people to refill their water bottles. Then two or three people go to lunch box and empty it out onto the blue tables.

Even the cairns are beautiful in the canyon
"Judy packs a variety of things for every lunch. Sometimes there are meats, sometimes crackers, sometimes cookies, sometimes Tootsie rolls, sometimes pretzels, sometimes cheese or vegetables, more often than not a combination of all these things.

"The first thing that happens is that a couple of people rush in with knives and start slicing up everything that needs slicing. (Helping with lunch gives you a good jump on being able to get at the food since you have an excuse for being at the table.)

"The rest of the party starts circling the table, round and round, looking for things that they can obviously grab before anybody notices and before lunch is officially served. They get closer and closer, hands dart in, people start grabbing. Heaven forbid you should be late for you are never sure what will run out.

"Imagine if you will 15 people hovering around one small three foot square blue table. This is a typical scene for lunch. It only lasts perhaps 10 minutes, and then people start to drift away. All that it left are the crumbs. Notice I said 15 people. Bill, who cannot usually eat what the rest of us eat, has his lunch packed separately. He always eats peacefully by himself with no other hands grabbing at his food."

After lunch we went down to hike up Spring Canyon (mile 204). No one in our group had ever hiked it before. And from the lack of trails very few even stop at this canyon. As we fought our way through the underbrush towards the hike up Spring Canyon we couldn't help but notice that everything had thorns. The trees had thorns, the shrubs had thorns, not just cactus, but pretty much every branch, every plant to brush up against us had thorns. When we reached the stream we continually pushed through the thick undergrowth along the creek. The only clear path was in the middle of the stream. Most of the plants, which thrive in continuously flowing water, do not themselves have thorns, and crowd out the native desert life. Not far into the hike I got distracted by the cattails and damselflies, but Joel continued farther on.

Stream in Spring Canyon
Joel - "Part way up our hike we met Bill Clark working his way back. He optimistically tells us that we are in for more of the same and not much else. About 50 feet beyond that point, we run across a small Beaver dam ineffectively crossing the stream. We leave the streambed and return to the desert. But after fighting our way through the thorny desert growth again, I decided to turn around while my companions continue to find a source of the stream. There is no real trail back, and I cannot retrace the steps they took away from the stream. So I just follow the stream back to the river. I did not find a source, but I am not the only one that did not go the whole way. As far as I know only four our party of 16 went further than I. And those that did found rattlesnakes."

Joel and I got back at about the same time, then our boat and Paul's went off in search of the camp at Granite Park (mile 209).

The dragon eating a life jacket
The canyon walls in this section were mostly sloped with occasional intermittent cliffs. This gave the canyon a very wide feeling. However, a couple of times a mile we saw a cliff of igneous rock left over from an ancient lava flow on one side of the canyon or the other. These igneous cliffs tended to be about 30 feet tall, and varied from a hundred feet to a couple of hundred feet in length along the bank the river. Clearly at one point much of the base of the canyon here had been filled with Lava and these were the only remaining uneroded sections left.

Camp was a nice spot and had a little bit of shade to hang out in. It even had its own resident dragon. We brought out our cards and played Varsity Hearts until we were kicked off the dinner table. I won of course!

Ben telling tales of spoons running rapids
Each campsite we stay at had its own unique animal life. Last night, the camp was most noted for its large number of toads which came out at dusk as well as the hummingbirds. Here the most obvious wildlife was a small flock of grackles who were very aggressive in their desire to get at our food and waste. We also seem to have a large number of velvet ants scuttling about.

Diane was in charge of dinner. She wanted to get her job done so started early at 5:30. It was black beans, rice, and chicken. We had brownies for dessert and Joel and I got leftovers of brownies as a present for our anniversary.

I fell asleep to the stars. Our camp is open so the star field was wide tonight. Before falling asleep I saw two falling stars.

Joel on the art of photography

We bought a new Kodak DC260 camera for this trip. This is a digital camera which takes high-quality images at up to three times zoom. We also brought 6 compact flash cartridges to hold pictures (ours hold approximately 90 pictures per card, though a couple of the cards were small). And plenty of batteries. Bill Clark also bought a bunch of flash cartridges and batteries but no camera so we used his as well.

Every day we take a variety of pictures, perhaps as many as 60 to 70 pictures total. Then as it starts to get dark in camp, we review the day's pictures, deleting those which did not come out or which were duplicates but inferior duplicates of others that we had taken.

Still, even though we delete voraciously, we have just about filled up our camera here a couple of days before the end. We are on our last cartridge and before we got to the Book of Worms we had about 75 blanks slots left in our flash RAM collection for more photographs.

When we go on a hike we take the camera with us. If it is a dry hike, we put it in a leather belt pouch, either mine or Daphne's. If it is a wet hike with climbing, then we leave it in our Pelican case box to keep it dry and cushioned.

However, hiking with the camera slows us down. This particular camera takes a couple of seconds to turn on or to turn off and can only take two pictures before saving them to flash RAM. Because of that, we often stop and wait for the camera to become ready when we discover something that we want to take a picture of. And when hiking with a group, this leads to the photographer falling further and further behind. Ah, the things we do for the love of our art.

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