Colorado River 2006: Day 5


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Wednesday, July 19, 2006: Many of our camps featured fire ants. These are large orange ants who are constantly on the move. Fortunately, they go to sleep sometime around dusk. Unfortunately, they wake up at the first sign of light, which is a half hour or so before humans wake up. Kelsey and Debbie both got bitten by fire ants this morning, so we commemorated the events with this photo of a fire ant hole. The bite is like a mild bee sting, and very few of us got to experience it so they really weren't a problem.
After a filling breakfast of French toast and bacon, Stewart posed for a photo outside his exclusive retreat.
We were thrilled to finally get to a see a scorpion on one of these trips, having never seen one before. This little guy was just over an inch long and was the cutest little scorpion ever. Connie made sure he was off the boat before we took off.
Tom, Doug, and Bob loved helping load and unload the boats; the kids, not so much.
Time to run some river! We were on the Silver Grotto so that's the Bright Angel pulling away from camp.
We saw many herons on the trip, but this was probably the best shot we got of one. He's a majestic, handsome bird, and he knows it.
Around Mile 127, we took a short walk up a hill to see salt formations.
These are formed by salt water seeping slowly out of the rock and creating stalagtites and stalagmites out of salt. There's probably an official scientific name for them.
The formations were largely hidden from the river by this large dirt hill. Our model, Doug, demonstrates.
Here's some more cool rock. This rock is black, smooth, and shiny.
Bedrock Rapid is a tricky one. It has a big island in the middle and you have to make a hard right going into it.
Coming out of it, both boats bounced softly off of the rock at the end of the island as a result of the sharp maneuvers required to run the rapid.
Next, we hiked up Stone Creek which was largely dry.
Here's a good-looking lizard. He posed for photo after photo.
Let's pause to appreciate the life cycle of the frog. Here are the tiny frog eggs in a puddle hoping not to be squished by unobservant hikers.
Here are the tadpoles waiting patiently to grow legs and shed their tails. Not shown: the tiny frogs who are the result of these tadpoles, because our camera didn't get a picture of a frog in focus. Believe us when we say that we saw plenty of frogs.
Our short hike brought us to this lovely destination: a shallow pool and tall waterfall surrounded by moss and foliage.
We always pause to admire plants that are in bloom.
Of course, we all had to be photographed with water raining down on us.
Here are Carole, Connie, Audrey, Becky, and Jodi.
Back on the beach, we dried off while the crew made a delicious lunch of Thai chicken salad wraps.
Here are Debbie, Bob, Becky, Carole, and Torrey.
At an adjacent beach, frisbees emerged from the Mary Poppins knapsack and much fun ensued.
After lunch, we milled about, packed a snack for our hike at Deer Creek, and enjoyed the scenery.
Connie demonstrated her extraordinary map-making abilities using only her big toe. She mapped out the optional hikes we could take once we got to Deer Creek.
After many a meal, spooky beige carp would come around looking for leftover food scraps.
At Mile 135, we passed the narrowest part of the river, with only 76 feet from one bank to the other.
Beautiful Deer Creek Falls beckoned to us. When it isn't raining, there aren't many waterfalls visible from the river, but this one is gigantic and right next to the river. We could enjoy it while floating on by, but we'd miss one of the great playgrounds of the Colorado River.
Jill and Kelsey took advantage of Jill's Sharpies to decorate their sack lunches.
Here's a distant shot of the falls that shows how it comes out of a hole in the rock.
Here is the approach (via creek bed) to the falls.
The force of the falls makes it difficult to get too close, but we all tried.
Here's Bob getting pummeled by the water.
Jill climbed the rocks on the left which served as an excellent launch site.
That was fun, so Jill went back for more.
Debbie gave it a shot ...
... as did Tom. That's Bob in front.
Becky and Bob posed for their photo in front of the falls while the kids continued jumping off the rocks.
Here's a big, shiny cicada.
After playtime, we started the hike up to the top of the falls. The switchbacks were just as Connie's toe had described. There was one tricky part that involved climbing rocks, but sturdy trees and helpful boat crew members helped everyone make it up safely.
With Robert's encouragement, we made it up to the first payoff of the hike -- this spectacular view of the canyon and river.
Let's get a scary shot looking straight down at the boats, too, shall we?
From here, the hike was gorgeous and easy except for some extremely narrow parts where plunging into the creek bed below seemed imminent.
If you're going to plunge to your death, it's quite a lovely stream bed to plunge into, though.
With encouragement and help, everyone made it through the scary parts safely.
At several points along this section of the hike, there are hand marks on the rock. This area is sacred to the Piute (Paiute) Indians, and these hands indicate a crossing over point. The side of the canyon with the trail is the side of the living, and the hands shown here are across the way on the side of the dead.
The final destination for this leg of the hike is an area nicknamed "The Patio." It's a little oasis containing trees, shaded ledges, waterfalls, and a pretty stream.
The water drops from here into the narrows that we hiked along below, before becoming Deer Creek Falls.
The rocks lying around here contain fossils, such as this track made by a trilobyte.
The real jewel of this location is just a short distance up the creek. This picture-perfect pool and waterfall is a great place for a family portrait and a quick refreshing splash.
Here are the family portraits: Bob and his kids ...
... and cousins Jill and Stewart.
Here are the quick refreshing splashes: Debbie first ...
... then Tom.
To the left of this pool is a large tree with the funkiest root system.
Lizard! Snap.
The serious hikers had gone off even further to a spot known as "The Source." We ate our sack lunches and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings and pleasant temperatures.
Meanwhile, the hikers were enjoying scenery like this.
This little waterfall is the source of the stream that leads to Deer Creek Falls.
Back at the Patio, Stewart watched his dad take a final dip in the stream before we headed back down to the river to join the non-hikers.
At the landing, we got one last photo looking back up the river ...
... and another one looking downstream. It was raining lightly, and you can see streaks of rain if you look closely.
Several cactus plants were in bloom.
Debbie was surprised and pleased that she had been able to make the hike up, and was even more delighted to be on her way back down.
Back at the boats, there was drama across the river from us as we watched a Grand Canyon Bighorn Sheep bound from ledge to ledge. Another male came along shortly afterward and the two boys decided to butt horns for a while. Sadly, our digital camera didn't have the zoom range to get a good shot of the show.
A loud whooping noise alerted us to the presence of the other hikers who had made it to the landing above. Once they joined us and many snacks were eaten, we made the short half mile trip downstream to our campsight at Mile 137.
Nicknamed "The Overhang," our family had camped at this very spot in 1978 and we were delighted to be back at this excellent location. We indulged in our traditional cocktail hour, of course.
The crew set up the kitchen near the water at the base of the giant overhang. Everyone in the crew was especially kind to Stewart, who at age nine was the youngest kid on the trip.
Dinner circle formed on the beach close to the boats. Individual camps were further back from the beach, either under the overhang or on sandy areas downstream.
Stewart spent some quality time burying his Uncle Tom in the sand. Stewart dubbed the resulting mountain of sand "Mt. Schillings."
These photos give a hint as to how the camp got its nickname. A massive wall of rock offers shelter at one end of the camp.
Here is the edge of the overhang as it meets the river. A small camping area is located just behind the rock wall on the left, which is where the kids slept.

The large camp offers lots of space for everyone, so we were able to get this secluded shelter. As you can see, we chose to decorate it with various wet garments and river hats. It turned out to be quite comfortable, if a little light on breezes.

Day 6 >


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

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