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Grand Canyon 2008

Canyon Trip Musings – Don Potter

Thursday, April 17th, 2008 by B.J.

It’s been a couple of weeks since our journey ended. Back to our normal lives, troche the memories are vivid as I suspect they will be for a long time. How can they not when we visited the full range of emotions we experienced. I know that…hang on a minute…

March 15 :: River Day 7

Sorry for the delay, sickness but you’ll remember if we had the chance we had to get in before Goose’s turn, otherwise….

Where was I?

We joined at Lees Ferry for three weeks to run the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. With expectations of tense drama and high adventure, I was not disappointed.


Missing Life on the Grand

Monday, March 31st, 2008 by Lisa

March 29 :: River Day 21 On our way back to Jackson we hear that it has snowed almost 100 inches since we left town, making this winter the best on record. I guess skiing sounds fun after three weeks on the river. We usually return from vacations so excited to be home, but this is one of the few times when I wish we could stay on the river for at least another month. River life was just wonderful and I am not ready to be back in the “real” world. I hope we can do this again soon.

  • Something to remember: Julie spoke with a NRS rep before the trip who told her not to make any life changing decisions until at least a month after the trip ends. Knots to remember: bowline (make hoop away from you, put loose end up the hoop, around back side of tree, and back through hoop) and girth hitch (under, over, under, under).
  • River Jokes 2008: Laughing along with the Canyon Wren; Goose’s Arm Exercises; “No Splashy”; Cat POOP; Super Shart; Maximum Force; Anything to do with Flight of the Concord’s songs Beautiful, the Distant Future, Business Time; Tom’s 5 Minutes; “That’s Neat”; Scott’s “M” Words; Mending my Fences.
  • Songs from the Trip: Grand Canyon Home by Goose; Hallelujah by Rufas Wainright; Down By the River by Niel Young; Wagon Wheel by Old Crow; Spanish Boots by Bob Dylan; Flying Shoes by Towns Van Zandt; Mrs. Ohio by Gillian Welch; Hard to Concentrate by Red Hot Chili Peppers; Fire & Rain by James Taylor; Dead or Alive by John Bon Jovi; She Talks to Angels by Black Crows.
  • Things to bring next time: q-tips; personal ammo can; hiking backpack; water jug (OJ bottle); more locking biners; less clothing (3 pairs long johns – 2 for river and 1 for camp), nail clippers.

Day 21 on the Grand

Geotag Icon Show on map Saturday, March 29th, 2008 by Lisa

March 29 :: River Day 21 Lots of derigging, a long, hot process that somehow went by super fast. Huge trailer full of our crap (literally). A group of us rode on top of all the gear as we ascended out of the canyon, about an hour, toward Peach Springs. Said our goodbyes to the Potsdam crew (except for Don and Dave who would ride back to Lee’s Ferry with us). We are very glad that we don’t have to go through Vegas today. March 29 :: River Day 21Right at dusk a tire in Sparky’s dually blows. It takes us about 15 minutes to get warm clothes and change the tire. Sparky drops us off at our cars at Lee’s Ferry with all of our stuff. We say our goodbyes to the river and to Dave and Don and head down the road in the dark night for food and a place to sleep. Burgers and fish and chips at a late dinner at Cliff Dwellers. A hotel room in Kanab. We left the shower pretty dirty. Very sleepy.

Day 20 on the Grand

Friday, March 28th, 2008 by Lisa

March 28 :: River Day 20 We were on cook crew today. To start the day off we had a memorial service for all the red ants that Goose lit on fire the night before and then punished him by stoning him with tin foil rocks. On river started with a “5”, a “3”, and a couple “2”s. I also rowed my very first rapid today. Only a “2” (Granite Spring Rapid) but it was pretty exciting and I made it on the map. We should probably buy a boat. Tom says a 15-footer.

March 28 :: River Day 20We stopped at Pumpkin Springs which was not my favorite natural features along the river, but it was very unique. We then crawled through the Hopi Birth Canal, a rock along the river that is about a human tall and wide enough to fit two side by side.

March 28 :: River Day 20We pulled into camp pretty early. Our camp looks at the river and directly at Diamond Peak. We decided that we aren’t really staying at a designated camp. Not many flat spots but it’s still nice. We cooked a few extras tonight. Mike helped make potato skins. Then salad, soup, and spaghetti. Lots of food left over. Goose’s “Spread Eagle Punch” made the rounds for dessert. Kate and Don put on an Oscar’s night. Great job highlighting Shannon’s “Mike, you suck!”, Scotty’s merkin, all the musical talent, Tom being accepted into the SAAC (seriously arrogant asshole club), best cook crew award to us, and Jaime’s brain implant. Then tackling Ben and grease bombs.

Day 19 on the Grand

Thursday, March 27th, 2008 by Lisa

March 27 :: River Day 19Today was a relaxing yet longer day on the river. We started out with a “3”, flat for 20 miles, then ended with a “6”. We set up a lounge area on the back of hte boat and rotated through laying on that, rowing, and figuring out a game that we would be playing tomorrow night. Kate and Don are running an Oscar’s night on the last night and have assigned all of us a task or craft to create before hand. March 27 :: River Day 19 I am in charge of making a merkin for Scott. BJ is in charge of widdling a very large guitar pick for Tom. Lunch today was the most eventful. We tied all the boats together and cook crew passed out wraps. But we also ran an ess-turn of riffles which provided much splashy and a little excitement. The “6” Rapid (Two Hundred and Five Mile) was a little different than usual as we were all actually really excited to get wet. It is definitely hotter on the canyon these days. More bugs but not too many bites. Camping at Granite Peak, wide open but lots of small tamarisk.

Day 18 on the Grand

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008 by Lisa

March 26 :: River Day 18 LAVA!! We got a pretty early start today because we had 22 miles to row and Lava Rapid, rated “10” and probably the most well known rapid on the Grand. Pretty flat water until Lava today. BJ was confident going into it. Scott sat right and I sat left. We had a huge “V” wave that we needed to hit directly center and then a big cheese-grater rock on river right. March 26 :: River Day 18When we hit the “V” wave Scotty hopped on the right tube, the high side, and practically climbed over it to try to push it back down. I got slammed down into the front of the boat and felt like I was swimming to get to Scott’s side to help throw weight over there. BJ, in the mean time was holding the oars steady in the water and managed to break an oar in half right below the “oar right.” Without any control except for his right oar we headed for the cheese-grater rock. March 26 :: River Day 18BJ calmly told us “I broke an oar so we are going to have to highside on the rock.” Super calm! He tried to “T” us up as best as possible. We hit the rock, high sided, and rolled right off. Broken oar still in tow. NICE ONE BJ! Camping at Whitmore Wash tonight.

Day 17 on the Grand

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008 by Lisa

March 25 :: River Day 17Layover day at National Lower Camp. Very excited about a chill day. Spent the morning reading on the beach with BJ and Scott. Set up beach volleyball on the upper beach which was in the sun and played a couple fun and rowdy games with Shannon, Mike, Dave, BJ, and Scott. Haven’t played a team sport like that in a while – what fun.

March 25 :: River Day 17By the time we came back down to the lower camp sun was starting to hit it. We read more and played sudoko while Don and Andy built a sweat lodge on the beach. Chased the shade line up the hill as far as we could before the rock walls got in our way.

We then hiked up the short drainage on river left to a waterfall, where the Jackson 4 took our album cover photos. March 25 :: River Day 17We met up with Goose and Kate on the way back down and introduced them to the game Guerro (see note), which we played at the mouth of the drainage. Then back to camp for a little horseshoe, beer, and conversation. Early to bed. LAVA tomorrow.

  • March 25 :: River Day 17 Guerro: a game that Scott, Gretchen, BJ and I created in Gooseberry about a year ago. You build little rock statues and then name them all. Then you gather a small pile of rocks for yourself and set up a little camp about 20 feet away. You have to yell out the name of the statue you are aiming for and if you hit it – then good on ya. If you don’t then the next person throws a rock. Very complex but makes for lots of laughs.

Day 16 on the Grand

Monday, March 24th, 2008 by Lisa

March 24 :: River Day 16 Riffle day (just a few small rapids). We stopped at Havasu Canyon and had planned to hike all the way up to Beaver Falls but as we started up the canyon and saw how beautiful the water and waterfalls were, medications we quickly changed plans and decided to just go swimming. We created a small nudest colony and enjoyed the water for a couple hours. March 24 :: River Day 16The cold water and intense sun were a great combo.

Goose rode in our boat today which was a wonderful change of pace. He is getting good at the “no splashy” (see note below) requests and we tried to keep him and ourselves dry during the remaining leisurely hours on the river. Camping at National Lower tonight with a layover day tomorrow. Tonight is the first night camping in the tent after a while.

  • No Splashy . . . on one of the first days on the river Scott and Drew were battling their pirate “arrgh”s and many pirate jokes. Toward the end of the day as the sun was getting lower in the sky we entered a “riffle” (a small rapid that is rarely named or marked on the map) and Scotty yells out “arrrgh matey” to Drew and then realizes he is about to get wet so quickly changes his tone and squeaks out a “no splashy.” It stuck for the rest of the trip. “No Splashy.”

Day 15 on the Grand

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008 by Lisa

March 23 :: River Day 15 We stopped at Matkat (short for Matkatamiba) Canyon for a short hike up a very narrow slot canyon. The goal was to try to not touch the water that ran through the canyon by supporting yourself with your feet on one side of the canyon and hands on the other. March 23 :: River Day 15It was tough in sections because the canyon was a little wider than we were tall.

Upset Rapid day, this rated “6”, pharmacy BJ hits the hole at the bottom. I sat this one out so that I could take photos of everyone coming through. Quite entertaining.

March 23 :: River Day 15Camping at Upset Hotel, a very cool rock ledge overhang. Also a neat rock walled groover area that previous rafters have built. We all slept in a row. The afternoon sun at camp was much needed and welcomed with beers and music and a few costumes.

Day 14 on the Grand

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008 by Lisa

March 22 :: River Day 14 The most beautiful hike I have ever been on! Goose and Drew tied the four boats together and rowed, one on each of the two outside boats, about 3 miles downstream from our camp to meet us at the end of our hike. We started our hike just above Tapeats Rapid toward Thunder River. This river begins as a huge waterfall that comes out of a hole in the middle of a rock wall. March 22 :: River Day 14Cottonwoods, shrubs, and greenery line the river as it cascades down toward Tapeats Creek below. The waterfall seemed to get more and more amazing the closer we got to it.

We then hiked up to a plateau called Surprise Valley which we crossed and then started our descent down Deer Creek, where we encountered another waterfall March 22 :: River Day 14coming out of a hole in a rock wall. This time you could actually sit behind the river and look through it. Beautiful.

Below this second waterfall we found a collection of rock thrones that people have built over the years. We sat in various thrones with staffs to rule our little kingdoms. After spending about an hour here we continued down to a small creek. We followed this through a wide wash until the canyon narrowed and the water began dropping into a deep slot canyon.March 22 :: River Day 14

It was amazing. BJ and I bathed at the mouth of the slot canyon near a small waterfall and then continued hiking down along the rim of the slot canyon. It wasn’t long before you could hear but not see the water below.

Once the canyon opened up to the Colorado we still had to descend a couple hundred feet to the river. March 22 :: River Day 14Then ANOTHER huge waterfall. All the water that flowed into the slot canyon empties out into a pool, dropping about 100 feet. Camping at Pancho’s Kitchen tonight, just across the river from the end of our hike.