Posted by David Hablewitz
(If you’re just checking in for the first time, I am posting my daily journal entries from my month-long rafting trip leading 16 friends down the Grand Canyon. You may want to go back and start at the first post of the series and work your way forward.)
An exciting day! I got up around 5:30 AM, just before sunrise. Around 6:30 AM the wind suddenly picked up, gusting over 20 mph. Then the rain came and it poured. Ariel put on her drysuit before she even got out of the tent. Best rain gear you could have! It’s a good thing I had packed the gear back in the drybags before going to bed. A few people left stuff outside and it’s soaked. David C. didn’t fair so well. Yesterday evening his tent blew down the hill in a wind gust like a tumbleweed. Someone recovered it just before it went into the river, but it got torn up a bit. He’s gonna get wet if we get more rain on this trip. It’s a good thing everything dries so quickly in the Canyon.
We packed up camp in the wind and rain and were ready to go by 9:00. Then the rain and wind suddenly stopped. This is so much like those Florida summer rain showers. The big difference is you can’t see what’s coming because the Canyon walls block the view of most of the sky. You don’t know what’s coming until it is right over you. Then just as we prepared to push off from shore, red-brown water started flowing down the far bank of the river in the main current.
It gradually started filling in the eddy where we were parked, then finally filling in the middle of the river until it all ran brown. A flash flood had come pouring down the Badger Canyon just across the river from us. Amazing how the muddy water shows how the water flows within the river like smoke does in a wind tunnel.
Fortunately breakfast didn’t require any cooking. I stuffed myself last night on stir-fry dinner, so I just had a bagel. We skipped lunch because we were so close to the intended camp that we thought we would just push on and do lunch at camp.
This afternoon we ran our first class 7 rapid of the trip: House Rock.
I thought I was far enough right as I entered at the top, but I still got drawn into the big wave-hole at the bottom on the left. the current really pushes hard into the left wall. As I hit the last wave just before the wave-hole, I lost my grip on one oar and ended up hitting it sideways! As vertical as we got, I’m not sure how we didn’t flip.
The grips on these oars are just a bit too fat. I’ll try rowing without the gloves and see how that goes. We reached our target camp at Upper North Canyon by 2:30 PM, River mile 20.8. Some people rushed off to set up their own gear before the rafts were unloaded. In the end it worked out OK. I know they were anxious to get things dried out from the rain this morning. Before dinner we all hiked up the side canyon. I remember doing this hike at lunchtime last time I was here. A big group of us did the hike. I got a group photo at the upper end.
Dinner was at 6:00 PM, just as it got dark. I want to eat earlier so we aren’t eating and cleaning up in the dark. After a dinner of salmon and salad, we had a campfire and some guitar music. I have been having a meeting in the evening for everyone to share stories about the day and talk about what we want to do the next day. The veterans tell me they like the AM & PM meetings. Good to know. I am finding my Toastmasters skills quite useful too.
Last night I woke up when it rained briefly around 3:30 AM. Never really got to sleep after that. It’s not quite 9:00 PM and I’m falling asleep while writing. Good night.