Monday, July 25, 2011

Into the Raging Water - Bigger Rapids

We made it through our most challenging rapids so far. Day 4 ended with all our boats intact. It was the 4th of July and we had a lovely celebration at camp that night. Our trip leader read a portion of the "Declaration of Independence." A few adult beverages were drunk. A little light show for the kids of all ages. It was a good ending to a challenging day.

My rotation started again for kitchen duty that night with clean up. We had a big meal, grilled chicken breasts and steak with baked potatoes plus a green salad. For dessert, a poppy seed cake baked in a dutch oven in the coals from our steak dinner. It took a long time to make this meal so it was a late night. One good thing about camp chores is my mind was kept busy because tomorrow we would tackle our first "nine" rapid - Crystal.

But first up on Day 5 was a stop in civilization. Just a mile down the river from our camp was Phantom Ranch, a national park facility. It's the only lodge below the Grand Canyon Rim. It's a drive-to point that folks can access for hikes into the canyon. It could have been a way out for me but I didn't know that until we were there.

By now I was skeptical about all hikes...even one to Phantom Ranch. Some of the hikes we had taken were lovely but sometimes they were challenging. Supposedly there was a place to fill up our five, camp water jugs (each holding five gallons), but again, we would have to hike them up to get to the water. HA. No one wanted to do that. We would just pull out the water filter and pump water from the river at camp later that night.

It was a nice surprise to see a real trail and other humans. I enjoyed my brief time with modern amenities. We got the best lemonade with ice! We used restrooms with running water and flushing toilets! Then it was time to get back to reality. Time to hit the river.

We had three, "eight" rapids to hit before Crystal. Those rapids all proved to be pretty challenging. It's a funny thing. The river seemed to be set up to give us on-the-job training. It was a confidence builder. Something else contributing in mostly a good way, was the high water level of the river. To my inexperienced eye, the higher water level gave us more options when it came to figuring out routes through the rapids. On the down made the big rapids...even bigger.

We pulled over to scout Crystal. There was quite a crowd scouting it with us. We watched a couple of huge commercial boats just skirt the huge holes. Their customers got very wet. We were hoping to avoid getting as close as they did to the big holes since our little boats might not fare so well.

This is a photo I found on the internet of one of the boats we were renting being rowed through Crystal on another party's trip. It's a little easier to get a perspective of the waves we were going to tackle. Our video from the boat just shows the tops of the waves. 

This time it was AK Santini's turn to row. Zman would run the video camera. My job was to hold on tightly. In this video you can hear a little family discussion...I'm sure you have those too. It comes from having so many leaders/pilots in the family. Zman and I are urging AK Santini to "pull," quite often in the video. We wanted him to pull away from the center where the water was craziest. Mostly, you try and enter the rapid at an ideal spot and hope for the best outcome from there! I mean really...what good are little oars against such large amounts of churning waters?

We were the second boat of our party of four to enter the rapid. Would the rest of our party make it without flipping? We would watch from the bottom, holding our breaths.


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

how did you keep getting fresh food along the way - was it delivered to certain points in the trip? Interesting vacation you had.

Kate said...

So fun to hear what went on on your boat. Since John was the only one with experience on our boat there wasn't much input from us (unless you count Ben's, "Jesus take the wheel!" plea).