Day 7 - Havasu Creek
|Friday, August 18, 1978: Breakfast was Alzado's delicious made-to-order omelets with ham, cheese, onions, green peppers, and tomatoes. Our first highlight of the day came at Fishtail Rapid near Mile 139. Tony stopped the boat and stood up, as he did often to tell old stories of the river, then said, "Coming up is Fishtail Rapid. It's Byron's favorite rapids, and he would like his two favorite people to ride the horns through this one. It's bad luck to deny the pilot's request, so would Marna and Debbie please get up on the horns?" Marna and I laughed while the rest of our boat was roaring and coaxing us up to the front. We got soaked as we rode through the rapids, pretending to be angry but enjoying every minute.|
Later in the day, we reached Havasu Creek at Mile 158. Fighting our way through a traffic jam, we found room among several other boats to tie up. We ate lunch on the boats, hopping around to and from the food. We met up with the other two Sanderson boats again, so our crew ate with theirs.
|When lunch was over, Byron led a group of us up to Havasu. We climbed up rocks, along narrow paths, and down rocks. Meanwhile, my mom was having a swim in the water below.|
|Let's zoom in on this photo so you can see the smile on her face.|
|We continued on our way and waded across the creek at a shallow area, followed a path on the other side of the creek, and then we were there. The place was fabulous. It consisted of different pools formed by Havasu Creek.|
|There was an area with a powerful current pushed between two rocks. The idea was to stand between the two rocks, then let go. You'd be pulled under about 10 feet, then twirl and be shot back up. It was really fun, but it was hard to get back to the start. Fortunately, a really nice guy helped me onto the rock each time I wanted to do it again. Right next to this was a really huge boulder, and Byron, Jim, and Bob sat up there.|
|One area had walls perfect for jumping off, and the Sanderson pilots took turns jumping from it into the water below.|
|The other Sanderson boats had a teenage girl with them, who we later found out was only 16 and was sort of a stowaway on the trip. She joined the Sanderson pilots on the jumping wall.|
|My dad and brother took their turn on the wall as well. I did not, so I made up for it by jumping in 2006.|
|After sitting on the large boulder with the guys for a while, I swam over to a series of ledges just perfect for relaxing and watching the wall jumping. "Need some help up, Debbie?" I looked up and there was the nice guy who had helped me earlier. He was named John, was 20 years old, and was an assistant pilot for Western River Runners. This was his second year working and he was nearing the end of a 14-trip season. I really enjoyed talking to him, but unfortunately, my mom broke up our discussion by calling me to go. We said our goodbyes with the suggestion that we might see each other at Lava Falls, which was where Western's trips end.|
|We got back to the boats, cooled off the pontoons with water, and either sat down or jumped in the water. Several of us swam around a bit, then got back on to the boats – a hard thing to do gracefully.|
|When we went on our way, we rounded a bend and there was a Western boat waiting for us with buckets of water.|
|They tossed them on us, and our group started scrambling around for buckets to throw water back at them. Just as the water fight got going, two more Sanderson boats joined us and we had a full scale battle going. It was great fun!|
|One of the other boat's passengers even mooned us. Our only casualty was Roger, who fell in, carried away by the heat of the fight. After circling and fighting for a while, the fight ended and off we went, wetter and happier.|
Our campsite that night was at National Canyon near Mile 166.5. It was the lower half of a double campsite – the other Sanderson crew was at the upper site. We found our camp, complete with ants but a safe distance from the adults.
Before dinner, cocktails were served at Barbie and Eric's camp. From left to right: Other Debbie, my dad, Roger, Eric, my mom, Barbie, and Doug.
|At bedtime, I laid on my cot and remembered what Byron had told me about our campsite – if you lie on your back and look up at the sky, the silhouette of the canyon looks like an eagle. The full moon was out that evening, which made the scene even more beautiful.|
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy