Rafting the Grand Canyon

June 11th

My plan was to wake up early this morning to take a hike up the canyon and to see what was under the ledge above camp that all the paths went to. I woke up to the banging of pots and thought, "Dang too late." But it was the grackles that were up banging pots. All the others were still asleep.

So I headed up the canyon, soon running into Diane. She too got up early for a hike. We hiked up the canyon for a while until we hit a pretty little canyon. We took photos here and there of the wash. On the way back we climbed up to an ocotillo plant so Diane could look at the little leaves that covered it.

View from the ledge
When we were almost back to camp we went up to the ledge to look around. No granaries but the view was gorgeous so it must have been an Anasazi site, and indeed we found one pottery shard and several chipped stones under the ledge. The path continued up the hill but breakfast called to us so we headed back.

Breakfast was granola and Oreo cereal and jerky. Joel saved me a piece of jerky so I wouldn't miss out.

Disaster struck yet again. Dad discovered a crack in our ceramic water filter. We debated a bit on what water was contaminated. We ended up re-filtering it all after replacing the filter.

We could tell that we were getting towards the end of the trip. Most of the boxes, which had contained food, now contained trash. But for some reason, we generated more trash then we had food so we are now sticking trash in other cubbyholes in the rafts. Also, we screwed up our chlorine use. Although Judy had already chlorinated the dishwater this morning, Bill re-chlorinated it with the last of our chlorine. We now had no more. There would be one more camp to be set up tonight, and we would have to make do.

There were only two rapids worth anything today, 209 Mile (rating 7) and 217 Mile (rating 7). 209 Mile barely got us wet, basically it was one big hole on the right. 217 got us soaked and it was fun, but not nearly as nice as 205 the day before. You know you've run out of good rapids when the best is not a named rapid, it is just numbered.

It was difficult to determine how Stevens (the author of one of our Grand Canyon guides) rated his rapids. He invariably rated what we considered to be very easy rapids with high numbers like 7 and perhaps 8. But after thinking about it for a while Joel finally determined the only algorithm that made sense was to take the logarithm of the probability that a raft with no oarsmen in it would flip if put at some random spot of the top of the rapid. Needless to say Alex was somewhat better than that.

Joel and I amused ourselves this morning trying to take photos of the swirlies. A whirlpool is the perfect natural pattern and if you have looked at any of my photos you know I love patterns. We tried and tried but only got some small ones. Photographing whirlpools is like photographing hummingbirds. You notice one and grab your camera but before the shutter clicks, it has buzzed away.

Pumpkin Springs
Our first stop of the day was pumpkin springs. It was a warm spring that goes into a travertine pool. From the riverside, the pool looks a lot like a pumpkin. It is orange in color, and has ridges that you would find on a pumpkin. It is also rounded and appropriately shaped. Although with today's high water level high, you can only see the top part of it. On the other side the travertine, is some warm muddy water. The spring bubbles up from the center of the pool and forms a pool approximately one foot to two feet deep. The water is warm, not hot, but much warmer than river temperature.

We stopped for a while and let everyone soak their feet except mom who soaked her entire bottom and explored the gap of the spring itself, which goes down a couple of feet from the floor of the pool (under water). I enjoyed looking at it but didn't get in. It was a beautiful sunny day and I felt no need of warm water.

Keeping cool
After a while back on the river, Diamond Peak came into view, our take-out for tomorrow. We camped at mile 222. The camp had little shade so Paul brought his umbrella to shade lunch, which was the traditional lunch of can meats (including oysters, Yea!), relish, mustard and assorted sundries. The Velveeta was going strong, but there was not a great interest for it. I crumbled the Ritz crackers into the oyster oil then ate them. Yum! It is amazing what seems good on a raft trip.

The hummingbirds were out in force today. I was buzzed first on my hike up the side canyon in the morning. I couldn't see the hummer but could hear it. The second time I was on my way down the same canyon. Diane saw it but it flittered away before I would turn around. I saw several on the river humming around the cliff. There was even another in our camp tonight.

Fishhook cactus
Since we arrived in camp people have mostly sacked out on Dave and Paul's boats under the shade. Occasionally someone ducks in the water to cool off. One of our threads of conversation on the raft was about deleting Ben H. The first photo we took of him in a rapid we deleted because it didn't come out. After that he joked with us all through the trip about deleting him from the camera. "Don't even bother to take a photo, you'll just have to delete it tonight." We told him we were just trying to delete little bits of his soul each time and eventually he would have nothing left.

A commercial boat that was deadheading down to Diamond Creek pulled over to shoot the breeze for a couple of minutes and to give us some ice and a couple of beers. The ice was promptly put in the empty coolers then the rest of our pop and beer followed. Some inspired people made sun tea and turned it into iced tea. When he asked us if we needed anything else we replied ice cream, but he said that was in the other boat. Damn!

Just before 5:00 p.m. I decided it was time for the trip up to the ridge above camp to take photos of a colony of teddybear chollas. On the way up I found a fishhook cactus in bloom. Its blossoms were pink and white candy-striped. I had trouble getting up to the chollas. They were on a steep slope and I kept slipping down. The rock burnt my hands when I tried to use them. Worse when I slipped I got debris in my sandals and some of the debris was cactus spines. The cacti loose their bottom leaves and the old leaves and remnants were scattered all over the slope. But perseverance pays off and I got my close-up shots.

After I got back I picked out all the spines I could then went up to photograph the ocotillo on the other slope behind camp.

Dinner was 6lbs of canned beef with scalloped potatoes and cabbage/carrot salad. Dad added his curry noodles as a side dish. Ben H. was in charge of dessert. He made blueberry scones with a whole 6 steps. Way to go Ben!

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Photo Index | June 11th Photos

Grand Canyon | The People | Getting Ready | Leaving

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