Colorado River 2006: Day 1


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Colorado River 2006: [Day 1] [Day 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Day 5] [Day 6] [Day 7] [Day 8]

Saturday, July 15, 2006: After an orientation at the Residence Inn in Las Vegas the night before, we loaded our river gear onto a motor coach and left Las Vegas before dawn. There were 27 passengers on our trip, and eight of them were in our group consisting of Debbie's dad's family (Bob and Becky), Debbie's brother's family (Doug, Susan, and Stewart), and us (Tom, Debbie, and Jill). For Bob, Debbie, and Doug, this was a sentimental return to a river they had run in 1978 and 1980.
Imagine our surprise to discover that Flat Stanley was a stowaway on our trip. He spent most of the trip in Stewart's luggage.
The sun started to peek out over the mountains as we headed toward Utah.
Maersk! You can play this game even in the desert, as this was the second Maersk sighting of the morning. The first sighting was on a train passing our bus -- that one ended in a tie as Bob, Becky, Doug, Tom, and Debbie all called it at once! It turns out that we didn't play at all once we got on the Colorado River though.
The mountain scenery became quite spectacular as we headed toward St. George, Utah. From there, we dipped down into Arizona for the remainder of the bus ride.
After five hours, including a stop at a store that sold amazing cookies, postcards, and other last souvenirs from civilization, we crossed the new Navajo Bridge (built in 1995) and got our first look at the Colorado River. Shown here is the old Navajo Bridge, built in 1929.
A few minutes later, we arrived at historic Lee's Ferry, which is just a few miles downstream from Glen Canyon Dam. This is where most river trips depart from. Our boats were ready and waiting for us, and we were off after a brief orientation.
Kelsey and Jill were in the front of our boat for the day, the Silver Grotto. Our boatman was Connie, who was ably assisted by swamper Zach.
Looking back to the launching beach at Lee's Ferry, we could see several other trips preparing to leave as well. Lee's Ferry is considered to be Mile 0, and all other distances along the river are calculated from this starting position.
Floating side-by-side, we received additional information from Connie, shown here with the Bright Angel's boatman, Ann-Marie, and swamper, Robert.
At Mile 4, we stopped for lunch, just above the twin Navajo Bridges.
We made sandwiches and ate them near (or in) the water, and the braver among us cooled off with a quick jump in the water. The water released from Glen Canyon Dam is extremely cold, but it gradually warms up as it travels down the river. Here, it was still very chilly.
Hi, Doug and Susan!
Hi, Tom and Debbie!
Bob had his trusty guidebooks with him, including one from our original 1978 and 1980 trips with Sanderson River Expeditions and a new one purchased for this trip.
We saw several Desert Bighorn Sheep along our trip. Our guides were excellent at spotting them and would slow down or stop so we could get photos.
Here's the Bright Angel in all of her baloney boat glory, with the Grand Canyon Expeditions Company red banner along the side.
This was Badger Creek Rapid, one of the first rapids we went through. It was spectacular, but by day four, rapids this small no longer impressed us.
Here is Ten Mile Rock, just sticking out of the river.
This section of the river (above the Little Colorado) is called Marble Canyon. It starts out fairly flat and gradually gets higher and higher as we descend into the Grand Canyon.
This is a lousy picture, but it's the only one we got of several red-tailed hawks we saw along the way.
At Soap Creek Rapid, we went through first and then waited for the Bright Angel to go through.
There they go!
As the Bright Angel caught up with us, we could see that no one had been thrown overboard. At this point in the trip, it was still a big concern but actually a very small danger.
We stopped to see the inscription carved in the rock for F. M. Brown who drowned here in 1889.
The Bright Angel made it through Brown's Riffle and came up to read the inscription when we were done.
There are so many wonderful types of rocks in the canyon, and our guides knew everything about the history and formation of them. We're not geologists but we do like pretty rocks, so we'll show them to you but we won't explain them to you. Just enjoy.
We love lizards as much as we love rocks, so get ready for quite a few photos of lizards as well. We call this photo "Two Lizards on a Shiny Rock."
Temperatures in the canyon were at record highs along with the rest of the country. We took a nice break in the shade during the hottest part of the afternoon and introduced ourselves to each other.
We saw many agave plants throughout the canyon, occasionally just after blooming. The flower consists of a long plume that comes out of the short base of the plant. Once they have bloomed, the foliage dies.
We made camp just past Mile 20, across the river and just above North Canyon. Ann-Marie gave us an introduction to the joys of the Groover, the portable toilet that was set up in a secluded location in each camp. A cushion next to the hand-washing station at the start of the trail meant that the Groover was free for use. A missing cushion meant you had to wait your turn.
This funny little creature is a velvet ant, which is really a type of wasp. We only saw a few of them, and they were more intent on running in random directions than in bothering us, but we stayed away from them because they can sting.
Dinner each night was very delicious. Our first dinner consisted of salad, rice, and chicken breasts.
The Schilling clan (dubbed "The Eight Who Dared" by Connie) gathered for beverages for dinner by the water, but by the time dinner was done, the water level had started to rise. It's a natural reaction to equate the water rising to tides, but these tides are entirely man-made, generated by the water being released from Glen Canyon Dam upstream.

Tom showed off the evening's dessert -- pound cake and strawberries. Then, we got ready for bed and called it a night. Most evenings, we were in bed by 9:00 PM.

Day 2 >


Colorado River 2006: [Day 1] [Day 2] [Day 3] [Day 4] [Day 5] [Day 6] [Day 7] [Day 8]

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