Monday, October 4, 2010

Rafting the Grand Canyon - Part One

And so begins an epic series of photo journals documenting the trip of a lifetime!
Hi-res photo-fans can go here, but you won't get away from my monograms.

In June 1996, Kirsteen and I set off on a 13-day odyssey down the Grand Canyon with Arizona Raft Adventures.  There's little bad that you can say about any of the outfitters, but AzRA really did make this awesome adventure...with great guides and incredible food!

And so we begin at Lees Ferry...

Not our boats, but they sure made a pretty picture set against the Vermillion Cliffs.

These are our boats...four oar-powered rafts holding a guide and four passengers each, and one paddle-boat for six plus a guide.  This trip is human and river-powered all the way!

Reflections on the gauging station at Lees Ferry.

Navajo Bridge is 500 feet above the river.  Trivial factoid: a true cantilever bridge system,the two halves are not hard-connected in the middle.

Marble Canyon is 1000 feet deep by the time you reach Ten Mile Rock.

I've added this page from my photo album which shows our lunchtime stop and and swim-exploration of Silver Grotto.  Had to take one of the waterproof cameras to get this.

The paddle boat approaches North Canyon Rapid.

Howie's boat slips through pretty easily...

...while the paddle boat crew makes the most of it!

It's a spacious camp just below North Canyon rapid...but it turns out that bedding down near the rocks is a bad idea as they radiate the heat from the day.

I hiked to this grotto of twisted rock in North Canyon half-a-mile from camp.

Redwall Cavern is a massive undercut of the limestone in Marble Canyon.

Kirsteen and I agreed this section of Marble Canyon may have been the most scenic of all.

River guides, Jon and Howie.  Howie is a science teacher during the school year.  More on Jon below.

Our second camp is at the mouth of Buck Farm Canyon.  'Twas one of our hottest nights, but blowing sand negated any relief from those who tried to camp in the breeze.

As for scenery, this campsite was one of the best.

It's about 2000 feet to the top.  A bit disconcerting were the loud rifle-shot cracks as rocks plummeting from the cliffs above smashed onto the boulders below.

Their camp was a great photo-op but hot boulders and blowing sand made for some grumbling.

River guide, Dennis, on the morning routine.

This boulder field makes for an interesting still life on the years-old remnant of a violent debris flow.
The wake-up call, two blows from a conch shell, went out when the camp-coffee was ready; they didn't skimp on the quality...just use the ladle and don't stir the pot!

Extra hands stand by to help load the boats.

After a hot exposed climb into Saddle Canyon, the water is a welcome relief!  "Just stay wet!" was the trip-leaders advice--and he was right!  The trail ends at a beautiful cascade into a slot pool.

A shout for "Group shot in the slot!" was all it took to coax everyone back in for this river-rat family portrait.

Our beach on the Nankoweep delta.  The dinner show included peregrine falcons hunting for bats.  Rain threatened but it sprinkled only briefly.  It was cooler this and the next few nights.

Jon: paddle-boat captain, head cook*, and recent graduate in geology, entertains and informs with a multimedia presentation of the land.  The beer can is The Watchtower on the South Rim, Ren is hiding out in the Little Colorado River and the mound of sand is the Kaibab Plateau.  Well done!  *Ironically, the head cook is the only guide that doesn't have to cook...whut?  The head cook packs all the food, coolers and kitchen supplies and then unpacks what is needed for each meal.  It's quite a job of organization all by itself!

Whew, that's just the first three days!  To be continued...

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