Grand Canyon Expedition Day 5: As good as it gets! A Father-Daughter experience


Next Post: Commodore’s Log, Supplemental: Hidden Danger
Previous Post: Day 4: Nautiloid to Nankoweap
First Post: The Story Begins…

Today is a layover day.  That means we’re staying here for another night to relax and catch up on things.

First the injury report:  Elizabeth cut her elbow 3 days ago.  She thinks she cut it on the oar when they ran the hole (hydraulic) in Badger Rapid.  Now it is swollen and is probably infected.  If it is and we don’t have anti-biotics, we may be looking at an airlift.  I plan to at least use the satellite phone and make a call for medical advice.

This morning many of us went on the hike up to the granary.  This is a small cavern several hundred feet up the side of the canyon wall that was walled in by the inhabitants over 1000 years ago where they stored their grain to protect it from weather and thieves.  This is also the location of one of the most photographed views in the entire canyon, looking down river toward the south.  We got back to camp just in time for lunch.  (Click to enlarge photos)

Hike to the granaries

Hike to the granaries

Granaries on the side of the Canyon wall

Granaries on the side of the Canyon wall

View from near the granaries

View from near the granaries

Classic Grand Canyon

Classic Grand Canyon

The cook team had been asked to swap the big, involved lunch planned for today with tomorrow’s lunch of sandwiches so the people who were going on the all-day hike to the north rim could pack it with them when they left right after breakfast.  Had I known about this, I would have advised to let the hikers take sandwiches while we have the big lunch at camp and save the easy lunch for a day when we were traveling and use the layover day for more involved meals.  Especially since only one person went on the long hike.  [Note: it is not advisable to take solo hikes into the desert.  But if you do, be sure the trip leader knows your plans in case you have problems.]

Another group stopped by at lunchtime to do the granary hike.  Their trip leader happened to be a physician.  He took a look at Elizabeth’s elbow and advised taking Amoxicillin.  By coincidence, Captain Shu happens to have some.  He’s got just about everything, except a beach rake.

Shu’s hand is still puffed up like a balloon, but he has almost full use of it.  Craig has a cut on his finger and Gary cut his knuckle.  The very ends of my fingertips are getting sensitive to pressure, probably from being constantly dry.  This dry desert air is hard on hands.
TRIP TIP: bring full-fingered bicycle gloves.  Useful for rowing as well as hiking, they protect the hands from the sharp, abrasive rocks and gritty sand, yet breath well and dry quickly.

The afternoon was busy, but relaxing.  We did laundry, filtered water, and took baths.  I built a shower by lashing 3 oars together into a tripod and then covering 2 of the 3 sides with a tarp to give some privacy.  Solar showers could then be hung from the top of the tripod.  The tripod was placed in a shallow sandbar in the river.  (It is required to have all soap dumped directly into the river.  Otherwise with 30,000 people rafting the Canyon every year, the beaches would quickly become polluted.)  The beach was further screened from the rest of the camp by tamarisk bushes.

The shower

The shower

Ariel getting the spa treatment

Ariel getting the spa treatment

This was our hottest day yet.  The temperature reached 85 degrees and lots of sunshine at this camp.  That, combined with the unusually warm river (57degrees instead of the normal 45) made bathing as good as you’ll get in the Canyon.  First the ladies had the beach, then the guys took their turn.  Ariel came back for the royal spa treatment to get her hair washed.  She is having so much fun!  Missing 2 weeks of school for this?  Oh Yeah!  Later on Natalia braided a string of beads into her hair. [This would prove to be her favorite part of the trip and the beads are still in her hair 2 months later.]  It’s good to see her getting along with all the women so well.  I can see her maturing before my eyes. [Note to fathers: An adventure like this is an incredible bonding experience.  Do not let any excuses stop you from making your own father-daughter adventures like this.  To experience a river trip in The Canyon is life-changing.  To share the experience with your daughter is sublime.]

Natalia braiding beads into Ariel's hair

Natalia braiding beads into Ariel’s hair

Ariel proudly displaying her bead strand

Ariel proudly displaying her bead strand

When the bathing was done Captain Shu helped me filter water and refill the water jugs.

Filtering water

Filtering water

I planned for the 3 birthdays that we would be celebrating during this trip and bought cards in advance.  Captain Shu also got Barbie-doll sized inflatable rafts to have everyone sign and give as a gift.  So throughout the day, we secretly had everyone go to Shu’s tent tucked away in the woods and sign the cards and rafts. [I knew all of the birthdays because I had to include them on the river permit submitted to the park service.]

In the afternoon Kathleen proved the trout were no match for her marine biologist skills.  She caught 5 and Gary eagerly demonstrated his culinary skills in preparing them to supplement our fajitas for dinner.

Kathleen the Provider showing one of her catches

Kathleen the Provider showing one of her catches

Gary cleaning Kathleen's catch of the day

Gary cleaning Kathleen’s catch of the day

In the evening, Ariel played her cello for awhile and then Jay and I had a guitar-violin jam session.  Jay has a great collection of tunes in his repertoire that are conducive to the audience singing along.  I’ll have to get a copy of his song list so I can find the violin versions and play along.  The two instruments compliment each other well.
Such a peaceful night.  just a light breeze occasionally blowing, making the campfire smoke chase people sitting around it.

This has been a fantastic day and tonight is a beautiful night.  But I still can’t convince Ariel we don’t need to set up the tent.  At least the tent has a mesh ceiling so we can still watch the shooting stars.  Tomorrow we will be moving on downstream and enter the Grand Canyon proper.

Next Post: Commodore’s Log, Supplemental: Hidden Danger
Previous Post: Day 4: Nautiloid to Nankoweap

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Posted on January 4, 2012, in Grand Canyon 2011 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Mary Beth Raven

    I agree completely with Dave – DO THIS WITH YOUR KIDS. I Did a shorter trip with my 2 teen daughers this summer. It was great. No texting their friends… cause no reception in the canyoun… good bonding time!

  2. Yes, lots of Bag Balm and hand lotion strongly recommended. Also, get a doctor to prescribe a variety of meds to take with the trip. Little nicks and cuts can easily become infected. Doing mud baths can be lots of fun but inevitably those little cracks, nicks and cuts can get infected.

  3. Cissy Vincent-Bassett

    I never considered the trouble small injuries could possibly cause. And dry, chapped skin! That’s irritating! I loved that Ariel has enjoyed the female company while out there. Nice ladies! Playing beauty parlor in Grand Canyon-that’s awesome! Is there a point along the trip where you pick up supplies and fresh food? Loved the pictures and never tire of seeing them! No 5 star bathrooms for sure-but even so that shower was I’m sure a welcomed activity. So how cold/cool does it get at night? Have you had any encounters with snakes or other wildlife? How many people are on the river or camping at a time? Is it busy with people or very remote feeling? Please tell me there isn’t any garbage lying around-that just burns me every where we go seeing that!!! So everybody got acquainted at the first meeting? Wow, fun to meet new people-not fun if they turn out to be jackasses though. I agree though, some people have no idea that they are abrasive or annoying to others. Best to try and gently bring it up than just get more angry trying to ignore it. You I’m sure, handled this well David. Your people skills are fine-tuned it seems. : ] Looking forward to the next posts! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

    • Fingertips can get dry enough to crack and bleed. Cissy, right now we’re at river mile 53. The next stop for supplies is at the take out, about 175 miles downstream. Well, actually, Phantom Ranch is at river mile 88. You can get an ice cream bar and a coke there and a water faucet with clean water is available too. In other words, what you have at the put-in is what you have for 21 days. Well, with two caveats: you can trade with other groups on the river if you cross paths or… Just keep reading and you’ll see the other option.

      The nights so far have been down to the low 50’s F (10C) and the highs in the low 70’s (25C). Mostly sunny but more clouds than the last time I was here and already 2 days with some rain. Unusual. It’s not quite as warm as normal, but still comfortable. There really hasn’t been much wildlife yet, except for the occasional raven looking for something to steal, but they haven’t gotten anything from us, at least not yet. We haven’t seen any fire ants yet, thankfully. They’re the same ones you have in Florida. Sometimes campsites get taken over by them if groups have been sloppy about their food. More on the kitchen later too.

      The day we put on the river, there was one other group launching. There was only one group that put on the day before us and one for the day after us, so we won’t see much of the other people on the river. Everyone travels at different speeds, targets different hikes and camps at different beaches usually. Today was the first time we encountered another group since we launched. That was the group that put on the day after us. They’re going faster here to get to more hikes further down.

      Great questions, Cissy. More on all of these topics later too.

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