Rafting, Grand Canyon National Park
Passing under these huge red cliffs reminds you again of WHERE YOU ARE, yes, at the BOTTOM of the Grand Canyon, way down at the bottom...
Here in the next picture you could see piles of these rock slabs that had broken off, you can just imagine something this big and this flat, what a wave it would create.
And this picture is out of order here, but this is, or rather WAS our modern and updated shower facilities at our campsite, it was better than the river and by better, I mean WARMER ^O^
From the lower falls you have no idea of the rocky and wet wonderland that awaits you at the top of the cliff, it is a stiff uphill climb for about 20-30 minutes with a few walks along narrow cliff edge trails, but fun and well worth it.
You can see in the first picture the pool and small waterfall at the foot of a giant cottonwood tree, refreshing and pleasant after that climb.
The canyons are carved from the sandstone of different colors and you can climb down into them with the aid of a single rope.
Deer Creek Falls, found at mile 136 in the Granite Narrows is just a short hike from the river, but when the river is in full flow you can pull your boat right up to the waterfall itself. It is great for a power massage if you can stand underneath the waterfall and the pool can be deep enough for swimming although this year it was filled in with pebbles. You can take a path to the upper falls and the canyons you will find there, not to mention the great view you get of the river back upstream.
Just after Bedrock Rapid at mile 130 you enter a very narrow section of the Grand Canyon, the Granite Narrows, as you can see in the first picture here the width of the river and the canyon walls enclosing it become "close"... the narrowest point of the river is at Granite Gorge here in the Granite Narrows, it is only 76 feet wide, about 25 meters...that is NOT very wide to get all that water through.
It is just beyond this point where we first spot Deer Creek Falls at mile 136, you can see the raft anchored at the shore, but when the river is swollen you can anchor right next to the waterfall.
Here we are at Bedrock Rapid, mile 130, rated at 6-8, but with only a 6 foot drop...you can see the wall we are headed for, that is the BEDROCK, or maybe it means we will make our beds ON THAT ROCK after the waves crush us on it...
As we are drifiting down the river it is difficult to tell what time of day it really is, the sun is often hid behind the cliff walls and you have no reference to go by, much less are you wearing a watch. Just as we reach the point in the first picture our guide calls out to us that we will be stopping for a lunch break.
This is the beach we stopped at for lunch, just single table with breads, meats, cheeses, some cookies and a few other simple things, a "quick" lunch so we can get on to our next "appointment" with nature.
After lunch some of us take a few minutes to stretch out and rest on a raft that is almost still and only rocking in the river eddy.
128 Mile Creek was a change in that it was not only very lush, but it was also very diverse. The large part of the canyons, creeks and streams that we had visited up to this point had either been largely stone with some lichen, braken or a few plants, but here in 128 MIle Creek, it seems that nature had some fun and tried all sorts of things.
The Collared Lizard in the picture was a perfect example...as we were walking in the creek, as I stood there wanting to take a picture of the lizard, he suddenly jumped up on this rock, almost at my feet and POSED.
Some of the flowers to be found here are beautiful, all the more so for the setting they are found in, a harsh desert environment in all directions for hundreds of miles, but he spring that feeds this waterfall has created a sort of idylic place for plants and animals, and for the few humans who manage to make it to this isolated and difficult to reach spot.
Blacktail Canyon was one of the few Canyons that we explored that had no water in it, dry as a bone, except for at the extreme end where we could proceed no further, there the walls were damp but little else. Here the beauty was in the rocks and the carving done by the wind and water over the years, like those little "pockets" or holes you can se in the second picture which may have been "carved" by a small piece of sand caught in a small imperfection in the cliff face and being driven around and around by the wind till it has "drilled" out a round hole...The last two pictures are myself with my daughter Tal and the whole group who went out for this hike.
Our camp at 119 Mile Creek was one of the best we had, the camp was very compact and the sand soft, made for good sleeping. You can see the camp life as we lived it each day of our trip, setting up the tents (two people to a tent). The tables set up to prepare that food and the guides like Alexis who prepared each meal perfectly. Tal and Natasha lazing around our village before dinner, a perfect time just to rest or read. Then of course all the girls took "advantage" of Joann once they learned she knows how to do Indian Braids for their hair, this turned into a daily session, thanks Joann for having both the knowledge and the PATIENCE with them, they really loved this.
Our camp at 119 Mile Creek was filled with strange crystal formations and rock carved by the river and wind.
You can see the "dripping" crystal deposits that cause an effect like spagetti and their intermixing with the rock to form "gargolyles" over our heads.
Looking down the river you can again see the play of light and color on the cliff walls, different layers of mineral deposits and rock types create a wonderful background.
Some of the scenes we were seeing as we drifted down the river in the area of Elves Chasm. The first picture shows the river beginning to narrrow again. In the second you can see some major boulders that have broken off the cliff face and rolled into the river to block part of the flow. The third picture shows some of the different formations caused by the differeing rock content. The fourth shows one of the "light shows" we were treated to each day as the sun got lower and the colors began to stand out.
All the girls joined the hike up to the waterfall and pool, here you can see Katerina, Tal and Natasha at the upper waterfall and pool.
The second picture shows the hole in the wall where everyone climbed up to jump, it was about a 5 meter fall from there into the pool.
The last picture shows Katerina getting ready to jump.
Elves Chasm is located just at a curve in the river and the canyon that is Elves Chasm is very tiny and you would pass it by as you cannot see the falls until after you have passed the stop. Lucky for us we had our guides to make sure we did not miss this gem.
This small water source cascading down over the exposed rocks made for some excellent photo opportunities and the size of the waterfalls were truly Elven. You could sit under some of the larger boulders and just listen to the play of the water as it ran over the rocks and fell into the small pools.
The Waltenberg Rapid at mile 112, is only rated at 3-7 with a 14 foot drop, but there is a world of difference between 3 and 7....not sure but I think someone told the Glen Canyon Dam to release a lot of water so we would have a 7+ on this one, as you can see we are going right down the "slot", directly for that center spot where the rapid looks its fiercest.
The entrance to Crystal Creek is not obvious since the water that exits to the Colorado River is very little, most is absorbed by the ground before exiting the canyon. The first pictures shows the size of the creek as we enter the canyon. The second picture shows a boulder that had been deposited in a "slot" in the canyon wall, a very firm fit. The third, fourth and fifth pictures show the waterfall and the small pool below. Just behind the waterfall is a small cave where you could hide.