Colorado River 2022:
Day 5 - Little Colorado


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Colorado River 2022: [Day 1 - Grand Canyon] [Day 2 - Grand Canyon West] [Day 3 - Marble Canyon] [Day 4 - Redwall Cavern] [Day 5 - Little Colorado] [Day 6 - Big Rapids] [Day 7 - Deer Creek] [Day 8 - Matkatamiba Canyon] [Day 9 - Lava Falls] [Day 10 - Las Vegas] [Day 11 - Heading Home]

Monday, June 27, 2022: Good morning! At 5:30 AM, we were enjoying cold Diet Cokes out of the drag bag in the river ...
... while Jill and Jared were having their morning coffee.
Breakfast included delicious blueberry pancakes, sausages, melon, and pineapple.
We dined in our campsite.
Fire ants are a way of life in most campsites, but only a handful of people got bitten over the course of a week. Here's a nest close to the path down to the boat.
Overnight, three things had happened: 1) it rained in side canyons upstream, 2) a very loud rockslide had occurred, and 3) the river turned muddy brown. Occurrences 1 and 2 both could have caused occurrence 3, but the first was definitely the culprit based on how long we saw the muddy water.
Shortly after 8:00 AM, we were on the river and running Nankoweap Rapid.
We passed a group of campers at Lower Nankoweap campsite where we had stayed in 2006.
After two days with the family of nine, they decided they were going to the other boat, so Marabeth, Dann, Cheri, Marty, Shauna, Brooke, Tracey, and Tara joined us on our boat. We found this out too late to also go on Brendyce's boat and didn't have the opportunity later in the week when the family of nine came back. The only downside to being the smallest group among larger family groups is that we couldn't swap with other families unless the group of nine split up.
Debbie and Marabeth were up front and made the most of every fleeting moment of sunshine to warm up.
There was a nice stretch of sun above Kwagunt Rapid.
Look at the color of that water! It looks like a Willy Wonka river!
In just 45 minutes, we had outrun the muddy water and it was green again. This is Awatubi campsite, Debbie's second campsite in 1978.
Craig announced another rock layer: Tapeats Sandstone, having already passed Muav Limestone and Bright Angel Shale. We had now completed the last layer in the mnemonic, "Know The Canyon History; Study Rocks Made By Time."
Check out the incredible layers of color in the Bright Angel Shale.
Pretty scenery on calm waters above 60 Mile Rapid.
It was just after 9:00 AM when we reached the confluence of the Little Colorado River.
We were overjoyed to see that the water was the surreal aqua color it is usually known for. It had been muddy on our last trip, so this was the first time that Tom and Jill (and Jared) were seeing it as it normally is.
Wow. Look at that color.
The 15-minute walk along the river is fun to do, going up, down, and along ledges right next to the water, ...
... with lots of stops to photograph the pretty scenery ...
... and look at the surreal water ...
... and get photographic proof that we were there.
Across the river is miner Benjamin Beamer's cabin, built in 1880.
Soon, we arrived and stashed our backpack in the shade.
Let's run some river!
Debbie was one of the first ones in, of course.
Off she goes!
Here's Marabeth going through.
Jill went through, ...
... followed by Jared, ...
... and Tom.
Here's Debbie again, step by step, on the waterslide, ...
... through it, ...
... coming up for air, ...
... beaming happily, ...
... and continuing downstream.
Jill and Jared formed a two-person chain ...
... which was submerged briefly as they went through.
Tracey did a run using an inflatable donut that one of the guides provided.
We enjoyed a round of snacks, including a bag of leftover blueberry pancakes from breakfast which made a really nice handheld snack.
The fire ants were on high alert and were dragging away crumbs, except for this lucky gang who found a delicious dead cicada to feast on.
Some passengers hiked upstream a bit to do a longer float downriver.
Here's Tom enjoying the morning in the best waterpark in the world.
While people were snacking and drying off, Debbie went down again.
Brooke and Tara found a great spot to watch the activities while staying cool.
By now, Debbie had realized that she could keep running the river as much as she wanted, because we still had plenty of time and very few others were still in the water, so she waited her turn behind the kids ...
... and off ...
... she ...
... went.
Jill and Jared were posing for a nice photograph on a rock on shore ...
... when the photographer caught her floating by once again.
Hello up there!
Jill and Jared went back to posing while Mom floated by.
A few times, Debbie went a little farther upstream to start her run.
Tom turned the camera on himself for a moment while he did his own run, ...
... then got Debbie as she got her turn in the donut ...
... for an all-too-brief fantastic ride.
It was Tom's turn in the donut next.
There he goes!
It's much easier to avoid rocks in the river when you're floating above it.
Note to future Debbie and Tom: bring several inflatable donuts next time.
Most people had started hiking back by now, so we did one last float.
This time, we stayed in the water as long as we could. Here are Debbie's feet ...
... with Tom behind her upstream ...
... and Shauna, Marty, and Marabeth just ahead of her downstream.
Eventually, it became too shallow and rocky to continue so we climbed back on shore to walk the rest of the way.
We got another picture of the Department of the Interior Geological Survey disk we had seen in 2006 and earlier in the morning.
A little more walking to go ...
... and we were back on the boat, two hours after we arrived.
The two buttes that tower over the Little Colorado Confluence are Chuar and Tower Buttes. They were the site of a 1956 mid-air collision between a United DC-7 and a TWA Super Constellation. Zach stopped the boat to point it out to us. Look at the butte in the center of this photo, ...
... then zoom way in, and look just below the largest shadow in the center of this photo.
This is some of the wreckage of the United DC-7 which crashed into Chuar Butte. The TWA Super Constellation's debris was scattered on Temple Butte. Zach told us that most of the debris was removed, but what couldn't be removed was either painted over to match the canyon if accessible or left shining in the sun if inaccessible like this large piece.
This is Crash Canyon campsite where we had lunch on Day 3 in 2006. That's Temple Butte in the background and the area between the two buttes is called Crash Canyon. A plaque at Desert View Watchtower told us where the remains of the doomed planes' passengers were laid to rest, so we visited both cemeteries last year.
Here are the Hopi Salt Mines that stretch along the left bank starting at mile 63.5.
Siobhan told us about how they were formed.
Check out these cool salt deposits!
A few minutes later, we reached the part of the river where Desert View Watchtower comes into view.
More importantly, it's where people up at Desert View Watchtower can see us come into view.
Let's zoom way in.
We stopped for lunch at mile 64.5.
While the crew was preparing lunch, some of us took the opportunity to wash our hair in the clear water. Pro tip: always pack your bathing supplies in your ammo can, including conditioner and hair detangler!
Ahhhh, that feels better.
Lunch is served!
On alternating days of the trip, we had sandwich buffets featuring the same options we had enjoyed on the first day. The flavors of cookies and Pringles varied a bit but there was always something for everyone, even the kids who only ate stacks of Pringles.
As we started eating, ravens started to arrive, calling out loudly.
They got braver, closer, and louder.
The closer we got to leaving, the louder and closer they got because they knew their time was coming to search for any morsels we may have dropped. We were always encouraged to eat by the river so that crumbs would float away, but there must have been plenty for them to scavenge for if they have learned this habit.
Soon it was time to leave the site to the birds.
This is upstream from Chuar Rapid.
Debbie spent most of the trip smiling. She loves this place.
So does Tom.
We were in the wide open area of the canyon which can be seen from most of the eastern viewpoints on the South Rim.
Here's Tanner Rapid.
After Tanner Rapid, Debbie was soaked, but just her front half. Note her half-wet, half-dry sleeve.
That's Basalt Rapid up ahead.
Huge stretches of the South Rim were visible from here.
We passed Cardenas Creek campsite at mile 71.8. Nicknamed "Mosquito Heaven" on Debbie's 1980 trip, she camped here her second night.
Across the river and downstream a bit is Upper Unkar campsite where we camped the third night of our 2006 trip.
Here's Unkar Rapid at mile 73 ...
... and Nevills Rapid at mile 76.
We took a pit stop at Below Nevills campsite. At this point, we were all getting comfortable with peeing in the river.
We never did quite coordinate which side of the boat was reserved for the women and which side was for the men.
Back on the boat, Tom took a picture of Debbie and Jill ...
... posing for this picture.
Zach took a few minutes to talk to us about Hance Rapid coming up.
This striking geological landmark is just upstream from Hance and consists of red Vishnu Schist and pink Zoroaster Granite.
Here comes Hance Rapid, one of the biggest and prettiest rapids in Grand Canyon. It's visible from several viewpoints on the South Rim.
With the Boucher safely through, we watched Awatubi run Hance next.
As we entered Upper Granite Gorge (or as Zach called it, "Bombing the Gorge"), Desert View Watchtower was briefly visible one last time behind us.
Sockdolager Rapid was Debbie's father Bob's favorite rapid. Sockdolager means one-two punch or knockout punch, and it's an apt description.
Bob would sit in the front on the right as Debbie was doing here, and when the big wave would come, he'd say, "Here it is!"
Here it is! Sockdolager never disappoints.
We pulled over for a second so that Siobhan could bravely rescue a cushion from a previous GCE trip that had washed up on a beach. It was shiny and new and all of its padding was fluffy so we were happy to have it.
Oooh, pretty rocks!
We took a brief break as we floated next to the other boat. It was always a good time to apply more SPF lip balm and drink some water.
At 3:00 PM, we were at the top of Debbie's favorite rapid: the lovely Grapevine Rapid at Mile 82. She loves this one because it is a smooth rollercoaster ride that goes on forever.
Eight seconds in.
Twenty five seconds.
Thirty six seconds.
Forty four seconds.
Forty seven seconds.
Fifty eight seconds.
Grapevine saved its biggest splash for one minute and 11 seconds into the run. Still one of the very best rapids on the river.
At mile 85 is the entrance to Clear Creek where Debbie hiked back to a small waterfall in 1980.
Above Zoroaster Rapid; after running it, we stopped for a pitstop. Brooke led an impromptu Little Mermaid sing-a-long: "I want to pee where the people are..."
Mile 87.8: looking upriver at the water level measurement station ...
... just upstream from Kaibab Suspension Bridge, built in 1923.
This is where the South Kaibab Trail reaches the river. After crossing the bridge, it's about a mile up to Phantom Ranch ...
... through Bright Angel Canyon.
The second bridge just downstream is Bright Angel Suspension Bridge, built in 1970. Even with this being Debbie's fourth time down this river, she had no recollection that there were two bridges down here, but apparently there have been all this time. Huh.
There's the proof.
Further downstream, the Bright Angel Trail can be seen cutting into the canyon slopes.
The Bright Angel Trail heads back up Pipe Creek Canyon here. That's Pipe Creek Rest House on the right.
Speaking of pipes, there's a pipe on the side of this hill just downstream.
This part of the canyon features gorgeous slabs of vertical rock in alternating colors.
At mile 90.5, we ran the extremely wild Horn Creek Rapid. Zach told us that it is his favorite and that it is classified as a waterfall at low river levels. That first drop was unbelievable and we all absolutely loved it.
We enjoyed watching the other boat run it as well. You can see the initial drop in this photo on the right in the back.
The Awatubi passengers were all smiles as they pulled alongside us.
There aren't many campsites in the gorge because of the vertical walls and few sand beaches, ...
... but it does make for stunning scenery.
It was 4:15 PM when we stopped to make camp at Trinity Creek campsite at Mile 92.
The camp was almost completely in sun but that wouldn't last too long. We found a little nook near the boats while Jill and Jared opted for a waterfront property upstream.
An hour after arriving, some of the passengers took a short hike back into the canyon next to our camp. We decided not to, but ended up taking a look the next morning.
Chips and dip were served as an appetizer.
We had a round of beers with Jill and Jared ...
... while seated in the water as we had seen the other group do.
Those beers went down so easily that we had a second round.
Soon, nearly everyone was enjoying cocktail hour in the river ...
... as chairs were dragged into the river and people came and went.
Cheers, Sam, Matt, and Dan! These three brothers were on the trip with their parents, Steve and Chris, and Dan's wife, Alex. Except for Alex, they were all repeat river runners.
Our amazing crew served up pork chops for dinner, with baked apple topping, baked beans, Dutch oven corn bread, and spinach salad with cheese, mandarin oranges, and pecans.
Mmmmm, tasty.
Chairs got moved to the beach for dinner as people decided they'd rather start being dry for a while.
Dessert was peach/blueberry cobbler.
By 8:15 PM, we were in our cots ready for bed, ...
... and waiting for that first star to come out overhead.

Day 6 >


Colorado River 2022: [Day 1 - Grand Canyon] [Day 2 - Grand Canyon West] [Day 3 - Marble Canyon] [Day 4 - Redwall Cavern] [Day 5 - Little Colorado] [Day 6 - Big Rapids] [Day 7 - Deer Creek] [Day 8 - Matkatamiba Canyon] [Day 9 - Lava Falls] [Day 10 - Las Vegas] [Day 11 - Heading Home]

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