Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Grand Canyon - days 3-5

Photo credit (various pictures in the Grand Canyon series of posts) to David Bogle, Robyn Cantor, Art and Jillian Cook, Cathy Cox, Sheila Reiter, Leslie Reuter, Steffen Saustrup, and Sheila Torres-Blank

At camp on the morning of day 3, Jimmy got to work filtering water.  PRO provided an easy pump and filter system that made it simple and fast:

Many times as we were packing up camp in the morning, a pair of ravens would hang out and watch.  They usually waited for us to leave before combing the beach for tiny bits of food.  We always made sure to carry out all dropped food and trash that we could see, but I also appreciated the ravens' look-over and final cleanup.  Thank you ravens!

Jillian took a neat picture of one in flight:

Starting down the river on another beautiful morning in a gorgeous place:

We had only a couple small rapids that day, little things to practice on and get comfortable with.  Most of the time was spent exploring some really interesting locations.

From the river we spotted the spring at Vasey's Paradise:

High canyon walls, looking upstream at Thomas in his kayak:

Approaching our first stop of the day, the excellent Redwall Cavern carved out of the base of the cliff:

Mark had a couple games for us to play, including spinning while looking up and then trying to jump over a stick on the sand.  Kip would be proud of my use of our urban racing experience and to-the-letter rules interpretation by alternating directions to keep my brain from getting addled.  Mark was not impressed.

Enjoying our stop in this lovely place:

We did a "moon lander" exercise, walking toward the far, far back of the cavern while looking at our hands over our head.  It is quite a long way back!  Robyn took her time getting there, providing photo opportunities for everyone who was finished:

Group shadow picture, I love it!  It was great fun being there with you all!  Who can name each person from left to right?

Back in the rafts, finding more neat scenery:

This picture is fuzzy but too funny not to share - go John!

We were all having an entertaining morning:

Next stop = Nautiloid, where we clambered up a drainage and looked for ancient sea creatures:

We found a few of the fossils, super cool.  They were easier to see when wetting down the rock:

A modern day creature, not as easy to spot:

Another instance where I requested a rope for assistance - thank you John!

A short way down the river we pulled over for lunch in the shade:

Water was dripping from an overhang, making curious grass-lined holes:

A natural bridge high above the river.  Each raft had copy of a detailed river guide to help us spot these things, useful and appreciated.  There was always so much to see!

Recovering from the afternoon meal...

Jillian took some good people pictures in addition to her animal shots:

I was also recovering from the previous day full of rapids, happy to collapse on our dry bags for an afternoon rest and reset session:

Mark took a turn at the oars on Jeff's boat...

...while Thomas stealthily hid at the back and started turning the boat and messing with Mark's steering.  Watching all of this, it was hard not to laugh out loud, especially when Thomas looked over at us and put his finger to his lips - shh!  It took a while for Mark to figure out why we was having difficulties keeping the raft moving in a straight line!

Wildlife on the riverbank:

Robyn looks more relaxed today too:

Possibly a future arch or natural bridge, reminding me of Utah:

Whenever we encountered another rafting group, Mark would paddle over to chat with them.  One of his missions was to figure out where they were planning to camp, so we could pick a spot and hopefully find it empty when we arrived.  That usually worked out well, and all the groups around us seemed to get along great.  Thank you Mark!

Our camp for the night, at President Harding on a scenic bend in the river:

Jimmy enjoying some fishing and some quiet time:

Dave took a few photos of the dark sky and all the stars we could see, at least before the bright almost-full moon came up:

Day 3:
  Redwall Cavern fun
  Bring rope when hiking with Mark
  Tom shenanigans!

Launching the next morning, looking forward to another day without big rapids:

Which made it a great day for people to play in the other inflatable kayak we had along.  Jillian and Art checking out the scenery from river level:

You can't really beat this as a daily morning view:

John is definitely in his happy place:

Robyn looked slightly concerned, but it's just a riffle.  We both got way better at dealing with the small stuff as the days went on.

Water fight!

I began to enjoy rowing parts of the flatwater sections, a way to get a bit of exercise instead of just sitting in the raft all day.  John could take a well-deserved break:

Right before we docked for a hike and lunch, we ran Nankoweap rapid.  It's a class 3, no big deal in a raft, but it's a long one, and one of the waves knocked the blue kayak over.  Jillian got her "Grand Canyon swimmer" badge and seemed OK with the whole deal once it was over.  Way to go, Jillian!

The trek was an excellent one, a steep climb up to the Nankoweap granaries.  A long time ago people stored grain here to protect it from the elements, and presumably most animals.  Also a spectacular view:

Looking down over the delta:

Another awesome day with wonderful people:

Cooling off in the river before lunch:

Leslie took the oars for the last couple miles of the day, looking like a rafting guide:

Possibly a peregrine falcon?

Our home for the night at Kwagunt beach:

Jillian was studying for her SAT's, so each evening she would throw out a few questions and get some help figuring out the answers.  Dave was an especially good teacher:

Day 4:
  Wonderful calm day
  Jillian kayaks - and swims
  Fish tacos, hurrah!

Morning pack-up was getting more efficient, until we converged on the boats and futzed around for a while with final prep...

Of course, we can't leave until the current POOP can is in place - John will likely arrive with it shortly:

Totally unrelated to the above photo, Leslie led morning exercises and we liked to follow along on the boat:

Most of day 5 was pleasant and relaxing, while I tried not to dwell on the 6's toward the end.

At some point, I couldn't tell you which day, Robyn and I were discussing how the small/medium rapids reminded us of ocean waves.  We were sitting on the bow, looking at the movement of the water and bobbing up and down, and I said, "It feels like the ocean.  It looks like the ocean."

At that exact moment, a rogue wave jumped up and splashed me full in the face.  I just sat there, licked my lips, and proclaimed, "Doesn't taste like the ocean!"

We collapsed in laughter at the crazy timing.  There was a lot of laughing on our raft, not all of it that easily explained!

Another excellent Jillian wildlife photo - hello little sheep!

The wind kicked up, knocking Jimmy's hat off his head.  Not the cowboy hat!  They tried to retrieve it but it rather quickly sank.  Bummer.  All the rest of the way down the river we checked out every eddy that had collected driftwood, just in case.  No luck.  Sorry Jimmy!

On the bright side, our first stop of the day was at the Little Colorado River confluence.  I'd been looking forward to this.  The water is milky-white, flowing down toward the darker Colorado:

A highly-photographed lizard on the bank:

A "train" enjoying a little ride:

Looks wet - but fun!

What a pretty place!

Back on the water, we spotted something floating, so Dave and Leslie took off upstream in the inflatable to check it out.  They look so small against the cliffs.  It was fun to watch them paddle, just like in an adventure race.  They found a piece of trash, not a hat, but thanks for trying:

Leslie and Dave, looking like they are having way too much fun!  Love this picture:

We survived Lava rapid!  Oh wait, that was just "Lava Canyon" rapid, only a class 4.

We also survived Tanner and Basalt, a couple of class 6's.  I don't recall much about them, except Randall lost a paddle in a swim session this afternoon.  Good thing he had a backup.

The other interesting stop was at Unkar Delta, where we went for a short walk to look at remains of dwellings and pottery shards from ancient Puebloans:

Taking a closer look (and then, of course, putting everything back where we found it):

It would have been a scenic place to live, although rather remote and isolated:

Dave and Leslie are back in Charlie's raft - I'm not precisely sure if this is the correct time/location for this picture, but I had to include it because it's the best glimpse of Charlie's colorful tights:

Unkar Creek rapid is another class 6, and this one was a challenge for Randall.  Mark and Thomas went back to help him, while the rafts waited downstream.  He came out of it OK, thankfully.  I think we were all getting a bit tired at the end of a long day.

Still one more class 6, before finally pulling off the river at Nevills camp.  We were happy to be on dry land and enjoying dinner:

Day 5:
  Lovely LCR
  Lost: One hat and one paddle
  But NOT lost: Randall