Colorado River 2006: Day 4


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

Tuesday, July 18, 2006: The rain had moved on when the sun rose in the morning.
Doug and Susan had opted to use a tent in the rain the night before. The option is available to anyone wanting one, but the downside to tents is that it can get a little warm in them.
Breakfast was eggs and ham on English muffins, fruit, and leftover corn bread. Breakfast for Stewart always involved hot chocolate too.
We loaded up the boat but this morning, many of us wore our rain gear instead of stowing it in the boat's communal day bag. Why? Because it is Big Rapid Day! Plus, remember that rushing water you've been hearing all night? It's Unkar Rapid waiting just around the bend and it's in the shade. Brrr.
We went through a lot of the biggest and best rapids. Debbie's dad came up front for Sockdolager (which means "knockout punch") to take his traditional place in the front on the right side. A second after he announced, "Here it comes!" every one of us in the front got slammed by a huge wave coming over the right side of the boat, just as he had predicted. This beauty is Grapevine Rapid, Debbie's favorite.
Clearly, if we're going to get this wet going through rapids, we all need to have our rain gear on.
Rain gear came back off when we took a short bathroom and snack break. The water may be cold, but it takes no time at all to warm up again with temperatures over 100 degrees.
We reached some semblance of civilization when we passed the first of two bridges at Phantom Ranch.
Here's the first. The rock trail down from the bridge is visible right below it.
Here's the second bridge. Phantom Ranch isn't visible from the river because it is further up in a side canyon, so we floated on by.
The terrain in the inner gorge is rugged and beautiful.
Our next two rapids were photo opportunities. We were on the Bright Angel this day and we went down Granite Rapid first so we could photograph the Silver Grotto running it.
Here they come!
And they're off!
Here they are again ...
... and they're through. Not shown: our boat going through Hermit Rapid a short time later.
Next up: the relatively tame Boucher Rapid, where we broke out the waterproof camera. Splash!
Before we ran Crystal Rapid, we took a short walk up to an overlook. It's known more for being dangerous (difficulty level 7 - 10 on a scale of 1 - 10) than for being a fun ride. Here are Katie, Bob, and Chris checking it out.
The boatmen walked along the river to get a good look at the challenging rapid.
What large, pretty waves those are!
From our vantage point, we could see the activity on the boats below.
Doug, Stewart, and Susan waved goodbye before daring the great Crystal.
After surviving Crystal, we heard the distinctive sound of helicoptor blades overhead. A 19-year-old woman had gone missing two days earlier and the National Park Service was conducting a search of the area downstream from Hermit Rapid, where she had disappeared. We saw the helicopters two days in a row, but we later learned that the missing woman's body was found in the river near Ruby Rapid on 7/30/06.
We passed this group of kayakers as we continued through the rest of the Gem rapids: Sapphire, Turquoise, and Ruby.
Here's a slightly obstructed view of Sapphire Rapid, courtesy of our waterproof camera.
Lunch was just below Turquoise Rapid at Mile 102 1/2.
Occasionally, the cookie selection featured chocolate cookies. Although they melt in the heat, that was never a problem as they got eaten very quickly.
In this section of the canyon, pink bands of Zoroaster granite cut through the Vishnu schist, often crisscrossing in interesting patterns.
At Mile 108, we took a short hike up Shinumo Creek. Most of the walk was actually in the warm water of the river bed.
At the end of the walk, we were treated to this lovely pool and waterfall. There was a cavern to the right that allowed us to crawl through a passageway and come out directly under the waterfall.
After four days of icy cold river water, it was a nice treat to swim in water warmed by the hot desert sun.
Back at the boats, many of us opted to rinse off in the cold water we had grown to love.
We also took this opportunity to grab a juice or soda. The selection included Gatorade (orange, red, and lemon lime), Sprite, Coke, Diet Coke, Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, apple juice, grape juice, grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, and V-8. Red Vines candy, trail mix, apples, oranges, and cracker mixes often came out at these times as well.
A storm was brewing behind us. Lightning over the Grand Canyon is a gorgeous sight, but we didn't have the equipment or patience to share it with you, gentle reader.
Ann-Marie was in no hurry to outrun the rain, because no one minds a little warm rain when they're already wet.
Debbie modeled her rain gear while holding a handful of tasty trail mix.
This funky section of canyon is home to Elves Chasm, which we didn't visit this time. We didn't mind, though, because we saw so many other great places we hadn't seen on previous visits in 1978 and 1980.
Camp was just above Mile 119. The Schilling clan shared a sandy area just up the hill from the main camp. Here is Tom with the Bundlings' third of the camp.
Here is the view past Bob and Becky's section of the camp. Are those blue air mattresses in the camp beyond? Yes, indeed. Sweet waterproof, full body length air mattresses, filled by a battery-operated air pump each evening. Paul and Catherine's family had brought magic Mary Poppins-style knapsacks, out of which they pulled the perfect camping/hiking/swimming/photography/sleeping equipment at the appropriate moment, while appearing to have packed only a spare t-shirt each. Attempts to purchase or steal these air mattresses were unsuccessful.
Down by the shore, preparations were underway for a satisfying dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, salad and bread.
Here's the nightly chair circle, with grey bags filling in for chairs that had already made their way into individual camps.

The race each evening is to get your bed set up before it's too dark to see anything. There's always time to appreciate the sunset though.

Day 5 >


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

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