Rafting the Grand Canyon

June 1st

I had trouble sleeping last night after my stomach started hurting. I had taken two Advil before going to bed and it was obviously too much for me. At least the night was very pretty, the moon very bright shining in through the top of the tent.

When we got up in the morning, the sand around our tent was covered with many different tracks. We believe most of them to be mice and birds, looking for food.

Breakfast this morning was granola and oatmeal. I ate a lot. I've been getting hungrier as time wears on. After dinner last night I was hungry an hour after I finished dinner (and I had eaten a lot for dinner).

Charles rowing Hance
This morning, we all wrapped up in our heaviest polypropylene and/or wet suits depending on the person. It had not yet warmed up and we had three large rapids to go through today, Hance, Sockdolager and Grapevine. After scouting Hance, we left half the party on the shore to take picture of the first two rafts. Alex, in one of the first boats, ran Hance (mile 76, rating 8) on the left. We went through one small hole sideways which soaked Joel and I. At that point we wanted the splash since we had been sitting for a while with polypro and rain suits on. We pulled in right below and Joel got out to take photos of the three rafts yet to run. Charles and Paul went next but Earl took quite a while before he came down.

Schist
Right below the rapid we started to enter the inner gorge. Walls of granite and schist rose slowly from the river as we went downstream, getting taller and taller as we passed. This gorge is spectacular, filled with rock over a billion years old, granite and schist that have twisted together. The whole place has a bizarre feel to it. It doesn't have the layer cake order of Marble canyon. Instead it often shoots straight up, the whitish pink granite intruding into the schist in distorted diagonal lines. The rock near the river is polished. It becomes smooth and shines in the light. Often it is scalloped. The scalloped schist is one of the most beautiful rocks in the canyon. When the granite and schist come together and are both polished and eroded into strange twists and pockets, it has an unearthly beauty.

There was nowhere to stop and scout either Sock or Grapevine because the sheer granite cliffs rose right from the river throughout this gorge. So we just went right through. We cheated Sock (mile 79, rating 8 - 9) on the left but got a few good waves at the end. Grapevine (mile 81, rating 8) we mostly took straight down the middle. It was filled with fun waves.

Right before Grapevine was a nice beach for lunch. Dave Y. stopped but was overruled by the others who wanted to get to camp and get through Grapevine before the wind picked up in the afternoon. So we went down two more miles to Clear Creek (mile 84) where some of us had camped in the past, but many of the sleeping spots were gone and it was no longer much of a camp. We ate lunch there, salmon ham, onions, olives, and cheese. I was starving and ate quite a lot.

Falls in Clear Creek
Part of our group wanted to hike up clear creek and some didn't. Three rafts went down to Cremation, including ours. Joel stayed with the other group to hike. As we went by the mouth of the creek we saw Charles pulling in. It is a damn hard place to get into but he made it. We all cheered him as he pulled in.

Joel on the Clear Creek hike - "Clear Creek was a beautiful hike. There's a warm creek, which runs down the center of this relatively narrow gorge. Most of the time you're hiking in ankle deep water, walking up through twists and turns. All along the hike were small pools and small waterfalls of between six inches and two feet. At the end of our hike, less than a mile in, was a 15-foot waterfall and pool. The pool was only thigh deep or so, and we used the opportunity of the clear stream to wash ourselves off and spend some time taking pictures. This was one of the best hikes so far, it was not too hot and it was very, very pretty. And the waterfall at the end was gorgeous and just perfect for getting under."

Clear Creek
Cremation (mile 87) is a special campsite. In general if another party already has taken a spot you can't pull into a campsite and join them. It is first come first served. But Cremation is the last camp before Phantom Ranch. Parties often exchange passengers at Phantom since it has a good trail leading down from the rim and is approximately at the half way point of many trips. So if someone needs to pick up passengers the next day, you have to let them share your site. There are actually two camps at Cremation and we debated whether to take the upper site or the lower site. We decided we would have less chance of being invaded in the upper site.

At camp I chose a site for our tent that was right above the kitchen. It was in a little pocket with the granite and schist on one side and a large tamarisk on the other. Small paths led down on either side. A perfect little spot. My mother and I chatted in that spot while we waited. The boatmen were taking naps in the raft. Later Earl joined us after he got too hot in the sun. It was a nice lazy afternoon, though I did get my laundry done at one point.

When Joel got back he told me about his hike. He tormented me by telling me how beautiful it was even though I couldn't hike. Then we washed up a bit. His hair was scoured clean by the waterfall up Clear Creek, but I needed a shampoo.

After we sat around for a while a wasp started bothering us. Then a large lizard came out. It scampered around trying to catch the wasp. It came close to catching the wasp twice, then Joel scared it away with his foot.

Dinner tonight was pork chops, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and carrots. Mom had put desserts in every meal too but I couldn't usually eat them since they were made with milk.

We stayed up later than usual, past dark. When we set up the tent we put the tarp on to keep out the sand and the threatening clouds from getting us gritty and wet. It turned out to be a good decision since later at night the rain started and by morning we woke up to a steady downpour. Unfortunately not all of our group was so lucky. Dave and Judy were unable to find a spot large enough for their tent and had to brave the rain without it as did the other unlucky few who hadn't set up their tents.

Joel on keeping clean

" Today, when we made our hike to the Clear Creek waterfall, we took advantage of the running clean water to wash ourselves off. You are not allowed to use any soap in the side streams, but the vigorous action of the water did the job and got the clothes I was wearing and my hair thoroughly clean."

"Meanwhile back at the camp, Daphne used the sun shower to clean herself off (Editor's note: actually I didn't, I used the river water). Then she used the tried-and-true method of rubbing sand in her clothes to get the smell out. When I arrived in camp, I found our campsite had a nice tree next to it covered in drying clothing."

"Nothing really gets truly clean, at least to the level that we normally expect with modern washing machines. But it is nice to know the you can get the smell of sweat, and some of the stains of breakfast out of your clothes in the middle of the trip."

Upstream   Downstream
Photo Index | June 1st Photos

Grand Canyon | The People | Getting Ready | Leaving

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