Grand Canyon Expedition Day 5: As good as it gets! A Father-Daughter experience
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)
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.
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.]
When the bathing was done Captain Shu helped me filter water and refill the water jugs.
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.
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.