Rafting, Grand Canyon National Park
This was our first campsite, we set up a "village" with all the tents around a common center where we spent the evening sharing and learning about each other.
Alexis, one of the guides, showed us how to crush the aluminum cans with a huge wide headed hammer to conserve space when the boats would be unloaded on the last day.
We met a group of kayakers enjoying playing in the river, we did have the opportunity later to see them shoot some rapids with us, we in our huge raft were afraid of going off course and crushing them.
Tal and the other kids became quite "river oriented" after a short time, adjusting your rythm to that of the river, getting up early at first sunlight and relaxing all day to the gentle sway of the raft...that is until you hit a rapid, then what is rapid is your heartbeat ^O^
Just past Vasey's Paradise is Redwall Cavern, when Powell discovered it he thought that you could seat 50,000 people there. We stopped for a look see and you can see the kayaker group also made a stop and their kayaks made for a good colorful shot on the "beach" of this cavern.
I went to the extreme inside point and took a picture back "upstream" so you can get an idea of the size from inside.
The first pictures show the Belknap's Waterproof Grand Canyon River Guide. We considered it an indespensible aid to our trip, a "road" map to the entire canyon, showing not only distances, but showing each major rapid with its dangerous spots, ancient Indian camps and rivers flowing into the Grand Canyon. The subject cover geology, whitewater rafting, history, maps, archaelology, natural history and even a photo workshop. Well worth the small cost.
The other pictures show us preparing the rafts for departure from Lee's Ferry. This is something that only about 20,000 people per year do...and much, much less than that do a trip of more than 1-3 days. We were lucky enough to spend 7 days and cover just over 182 MILES in that time.
As you leave Lee's Ferry you are entering into Marble Canyon, the northeastern section of the canyon that the Colorado River has carved out of the Arizona landscape. We will be traveling this canyon for many miles before we reach the boundries of the Grand Canyon National Park.
The rapids in the Colorado River system are designated by the difficulty of running them along with their names. The Belknap River Guide also shows them by "mile", or their distance from the starting point of Lee's Ferry.
Soap Creek Rapid at mile 11 is rated at 5-6 with a drop of 16 feet ("drop" is the height difference between when you enter the rapid till you leave on the downriver end of the rapid).
The rapids are scaled (rated) on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the easiest and 10 being the most difficult.
Vasey's Paradise, called Vasey after the botanitst who accompanied John Wesley Powell on his canyon exploration, and so called paradise for the fountains of water bursting from the rocks and creating sparkling "gems" as they were called in the report Powell wrote after having explored the canyon in 1869.
The second picture shows us running the rapids just before Vasey's Paradise and the red wall that we ran up against in passing.
The "Paradise" is not quite as much a paradise as it was back in 1869 I guess, today the green you see is also overrun with poison ivy, so do NOT get off your raft here.
Just floating on the river, you, the raft and your guides and friends, "almost" alone on the river, it is a fantastic experience in itself. You are very far from any type of "civilization" with the exception of what you have with you on the raft. Suddenly you have the time to just enjoy the play of the sun on the cliff walls and over the water of the river.
As you can see by the petroglyphs we were far from the first people to come to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the Anasazi were the first apparently around 600AD.
Okay this is what I looked like for a week, this was just before we were getting back in the boats to run the rapid you can see in the background.
The other pictures shows the one single tree that we found in the North Canyon, it very much reminded me of some that I have found in the Dead Sea area, growing out of pure rock so it seems.
The side trips were a time for some people to just lay back on the raft and enjoy a few minutes of rest, listening to the river flow by.
As you float down Marble Canyon you will see how the canyon was created, the heat of the day, the cold of the night, the wind and the rain, and especially the river itself have spent years carving, pushing and sanding these cliff walls.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.