Colorado River 1978:
Day 3 - Marble Canyon


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Colorado River 1978: [Day 1 - Utah] [Day 2 - Utah] [Day 3 - Marble Canyon] [Day 4 - Red Wall Cavern] [Day 5 - Little Colorado/Phantom Ranch] [Day 6 - Deer Creek] [Day 7 - Havasu Creek] [Day 8 - Lava Falls] [Day 9 - Diamond Creek] [Day 10 - Grand Canyon]

Monday, August 14, 1978: We woke up early, assembled in the courtyard with our ammo cans and wet bags, then piled into vans – fourteen people plus a driver in each. Then we drove the 46 miles from Page to Lee's Ferry with increasing anticipation. Occasional flashes of the river below only served to get the river fever up. We finally arrived at Lee's Ferry and were told to look around.
Lee's Ferry is a rather historical site, but it didn't interest me. We looked at old shacks and rusted machines – the remnants of what used to be one of the only ways to cross the river. It was extremely hot and all I wanted to do was get on the river.
We wandered upstream, then returned for what would be our last lavatory break for eight days. Then we gathered on the beach, watching the boats being loaded. A few of us ventured ankle-deep into the water, which felt good but quite cold. As much as we wanted to cool off, the water was too cold to be totally submerged. So, we sat on our ammo cans and waited.

When all was set, we chose a boat and climbed on. The silver rubber was like a frying pan, and we couldn't sit down until a bucket of water was tossed on the pontoons. We arranged ourselves 14 to a boat and waited to shove off. Our family of four was on the same boat and I was seated next to sisters Marna and Marie, aged 18 and 20. They had a younger brother named Jim, a quiet father named Jim Sr., and a friendly mother named Jo.

We had 225 miles ahead of us, and our friendly river-runners, Byron and Tony (Janet, Hoss and Alzado were on the other boat) started to tell us about our boat. The "horns" on the ends of the pontoon were for the more daring. The "bathtub" was at the very front, so-named for obvious reasons. We were also told about the whitewater that we would encounter – classified as ripples, riffles, and rapids. We headed into an area of ripples, and when we were told that they were minute compared to rapids, we started to panic. By the end of the trip, we laughed at our original reactions.

Around Mile 3, we stopped for lunch. Lunch consisted of peanut butter in a huge can, jelly in same, a different spread every day (such as tuna, avocado, or chicken salad), bread, Mother's Cookie Assortment, and another kind of cookie that changed every day, like the spread. This day we also had watermelon, which was chilled in a small pond in the rocks. This photo of Mile 3, like many more to come, is from Google Maps Street View (GMSV). I'm using GMSV to fill in scenes where no original photo exists.

We got going after lunch and passed under Navajo Bridge at Mile 4. Back then, there was only one bridge. Now, there are two and the one seen here is only for pedestrian use. Here I am sitting in the front of the boat ("Bathtub"), ...

... and here I am again a little later.

We made camp around Mile 25, with a small rapid just up the river and another one down, both out of our view. We got out of the boat and formed a line, passing items up the line from the boat to high up the shore. We all took our wet bag, ammo can and life preserver, and started to search for a place to camp. Doug and I found a little shelter, not far from Sherm and Diane from Tempe.

After dinner, Alzado took a few minutes to describe "Oscar" and his functions to us. Oscar was greeted with nervous laughs – he was a portable chemical toilet inside a small tent. It got dark by 8:00 PM and Jim, Doug, and I hung out together. On subsequent nights, "the kids" grew to include Jim's sisters, Bob, John, Byron, Doug, and me. Our campsite faced a solid wall of rock across the river, and we watched the moonlight move lower and lower down the wall as the moon rose higher in the sky. We planned to stay awake until we saw the moon, but we never made it. (Camp photo: GMSV)

Day 4 >


Colorado River 1978: [Day 1 - Utah] [Day 2 - Utah] [Day 3 - Marble Canyon] [Day 4 - Red Wall Cavern] [Day 5 - Little Colorado/Phantom Ranch] [Day 6 - Deer Creek] [Day 7 - Havasu Creek] [Day 8 - Lava Falls] [Day 9 - Diamond Creek] [Day 10 - Grand Canyon]

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