Rafting, Grand Canyon National Park
Crystal Rapids is one of the most fearsome on the river. There is a sizable creek - Crystal Creek - coming in from the north, bringing lots of boulders to build up the rapids out in the main river. This was during the two out of 14 days that rain fell. Much of the rain fell up higher above the North Rim, causing the Crystal Creek to run red with debris. You can see that the redness is lost quickly in the maelstrom of the main rapids. Crystal and Lava Falls are probably the two best know huge rapids in the Canyon, but you get to know many others just as big as you float through. We are at mile 98.
Well within the main part of the Grand Canyon proper now, past the Desert Watchtower, the Colorado begins its mighty right turn to the west, entering the older sections of the the Canyon known as the Granite Canyon. After several large rapids, you are floating past rocks that are up to 1.7 billion years old. 80 plus miles have been completed.
Desert View is one of the busier places atop the South Rim centered around the 1932 Desert Watchtower. For many, their first glimpse of the Canyon is from here. From down here, the tower is only a small stub on the Rim's surface. The river traveller is late in their fourth day at mile 65.
Where Nankoweap Creek comes in from the west, a small delta is formed next to the Colorado. The delta was wide enough for a couple of Anasazi families to plant corn fields, storing their grain up high in granaries in the cliff walls. they were set up high to keep the grain away from rodents and the weather. The view downriver is classic. This is mile 52-53.
Right in the middle of the Marble Canyon you come onto a small side canyon contained several nautiloid fossils of over a meter in length. Just another reminder of the ages you are passing through. The campsite on the river is exquisite. One could stay here for awhile. You are now at mile 35.
Carved out of the cliff walls where the river makes a 90 degree turn is the Redwall Cavern. John Powell thought you could fit 5000 people inside here, but where are they going to come from? The South Rim? :-] With only a couple of raftfulls of folks, it seems much nicer. Redwall Cavern is only one mile farther on from Vasey's.
Outside of 4WD roads and air tours, you can only really discover Marble Canyon from wtihin - which means from the river. As the river wends its way south from Glen Canyon Dam - 88 miles to Phantom Ranch; 226 miles to Diamond Creek take-out; 240 miles to Separation Canyon where we took a jet boat out the next 40 miles on Lake Mead - the canyon deepens to over 3000 feet. Unlike in the Grand Canyon section where side creeks widen out the canyon in the vast fashion you witness there, there is very little side erosion here making the canyon a very deep trench indeed.
Following Deer Creek back to the Colorado, you watch as Deer Creek cuts its way deeper and deeper through the sandstone, carving a deep serpentine pathway.
Heading back to the river, you traverse Surprise Valley and drop down the cactus-laden Deer Creek Valley - finding another spring emanting from the walls - Deer Springs.
You are in the heart of eons here sitting on the sandy beach. River at your feet and canyon walls stretching far higher than you can crane your neck.