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.
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.
At the end of Deer Creek valley, the creek drops in glorious fashion to hasten its meeting with the Colorado. On a hot day of hiking, the pools at the base of the waterfall make for a grand swim. You are at mile 136 near the narrowest stretch of the Grand Canyon proper.
This is the last great rapid faced by boaters. Rapids are formed mostly where side canyons wash down huge boulders and debris across the main river's path, forming a dam, of sorts, for the water to roar over. If you see a side canyon coming while you are floating, best be assured that a rapid awaits. For some reason, the Grand Canyon has to be different and instead of grading rapids on the normal 1-5 scale (6 being unrunnable), the rapids here are graded on a 1-10 scale. Hance, Sockdolager, Grapevine, Horn Creek, Granite, Hermit, Crystal, Waltenberg, Duebendorff, and Upset are some of the biggest, though there are plenty of others that can overturn your craft , as well. Lava Falls and Crystal - maybe, Hance, as well, have a very special place among the riverfolk. You have reached mile 179.
These rapids are everchanging, big and downright nasty. Even with conditions much more controlled today by the presence of the Glen Canyon Dam, these are BIG waters. With a raft it is all about the initial commitment. What is your point of entry? How are you pointed? Where are your oars? What do you plan to do within the rapid? Will you try and turn the raft? Maybe going in backwards and letting the river swing you around? You have to figure it all out - or at least try and figure it out - before you enter the rapid. Once in, you're in and there is no time to think then. A mistake is nearly impossible to correct in these waters. The waters are cold and the swim can be long.
As we approach the confluence of the Little Colorado River you notice a change in the river color. You can see that the Little Colorado is a beautiful torquoise and it is also WARM, which is a pleasant change.
There are countless mineral "roses" imbedded in the walls of the canyon, they are caused by deposits of certain minerals and as the wall erodes they will become exposed and sometimes "blossom" as the outer layer wears away, revealing the interior.
The Little Colorado also has a great "water park slide" area, you can see me sliding down the river.
In the first picture you can see the kids getting ready to "slide" in the river, the trick was to take off your lifejacket and put it on your legs and backwards. This provided some boyancy and also protected your butt as you went down over the rocks..
You can see the kids sliding in a group, this was the most popular way after several experiments.
The entire side of the riverbank was lined with these mineral deposits, some enough to create small pools like those found sometimes surrounding geysers.
The kids in our group (ages 10-17) really enjoyed this adventure, here you can see Natasha, Tal, Katerina, Kyle and Jacob showing off their muscle.
The color was out of this world, taken from those same minerals that were deposited along the banks.
The Unkar Rapids, located between mile 72-73 are rated as being 4-7, with a drop of 25 feet. Quite the difference between 4-7, but the differences are caused by the amount of water being released from the Glen Canyon Dam at any given time. The rapids are usually more treacherous as there is LESS water, this is usually becasue there are more boulders exposed as the water level drops. But then more water can cause a enough of a rise in water level to create new rapids that were dry land before....
You can see from the pictures that often we were entirely underwater or at least "underwave" as we roared through the rapids.