Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Into the Raging Water - Hiking Havasu Canyon

Havasu Creek was beautiful. It seemed like an endless turquoise stream. Endless, because it looked remarkably the same during the hike up and down the creek. (I guess the heat just took away some of my appreciation for nature's beauty.)

Peacekeeper and Hiker Girl went blazing ahead with all the kids in search of a waterfall. Finding the waterfalls for all the creeks we hiked seemed like searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. About 40 minutes into the hike we all rejoined at a site on the creek where the kids were jumping off a boulder into the water. I was glad to see Zman. He had our family backpack with lunch - protein bars and sodas.

As we sat enjoying our break, Survivor Man started to cross toward us from the other side of the creek. Zman knew Survivor Man was headed for a deep pool which looked deceivingly like a shallow crossing. Survivor Man was also carry a backpack and he was trying to keep it out of the water so he was holding the backpack over his head as he started to cross the creek. To our great amusement, Survivor Man stepped right into the deep pool...down he went...water over his head. To me this was the most funny moment of the entire trip. I was laughing hysterically. Maybe a touch of "canyon craziness," was affecting me.

Hiker Girl was intent on seeing the Havasu waterfall which was at least another hour away so those who wanted to pursue it would not be getting back to the rafts for possibly three more hours. We decided to split up with part of the group going back to the rafts and starting to head down river to look for a camp. I had definitely had enough of hiking...and it seemed the rest of the Bailey clan felt the same way.

I still haven't introduced our Fearless Leader and his wife. You've already met their offspring,  T.S. and Ballerina Girl.

They could be on the cover of "Grand Canyon Tours," because they really had the "full" experience. Flipped raft on Day Six...more about them later. I'm getting ahead of the day's events.

The sun was shining as we started heading back to the rafts, Survivor Man, Lovey, Fearless Leader and wife, and all of the Bailey clan. We passed others hiking the trail who had started from the top of the canyon at a hike-in camp site. They had about a seven-hour hike for the round trip that day. They were all heading up as we headed down the canyon.

July is monsoon season in the Grand Canyon. It was mid-afternoon. Time for the dark clouds to start gathering. We were fairly close to the bottom of the canyon when it started to rain. It is no fun to travel on the river, in a raft, in the rain. We thought maybe once the hikers got back from the waterfall the rain would subside. Lovey, AK Santini and I took cover under a large boulder with an overhang. At this point it had been decided we would wait for the waterfall hiking group before leaving. Zman and Survivor Man, Ballerina Girl and her mom were already at the rafts so our Fearless Leader headed to the rafts to let them know we would be delaying our departure.

AK Santini and I caught up on stories from Survivor Man's family vacations while hunkered down with Lovey. There was a trip to Mexico that involved going over a bridge that was "closed" and things got hairy for a while. Then they did a horseback riding trip in the California mountains that started out incredibly hot and within a few hours they were in rain, then sleet, then snow. Brainiac was a young teenager at the time. The family was only dressed in short sleeves because it had been so hot at the start of the trip. As they huddled to keep warm, Brainiac asked, "Why can't we go on vacations to Hawaii like other families?" 

It's important to get new material to draw from in your family conversations and Brainiac's comment about Hawaii is now a current favorite line we throw out every now and then. 

After only about 15 minutes of conversation, Hiker Girl and the rest of the waterfall seekers came upon us. Once the rain had started they had turned around, deciding to forego the waterfall search.

I found this photo on the web. Just imagine Hiker Girl and Peacekeeper standing there. It looks incredible. It almost makes me want'll settle for the picture.

Yippee...this meant is was now time to jump into the water and swim back to the rafts. Time for me to embrace my aquatic nature. We all did have our life vests. We had left them stacked on some rocks at the  bottom of the canyon. 

 I was ready to win this survivor swimming challenge. I was just sure I was on an episode of "Survivor." I swam like a fish and made it to the rafts first. I was so please when I arrived at the rafts...I even announced I was the winner and would like to collect my $15,000 prize. No...this is reality...not a reality show. 

 The members of our party who had been there waiting in the rain at the rafts had re-positioned the Bailey raft so it covered the bottleneck of the canyon horizontally. Our four rafts where the only ones in sight. All of the other canyon hikers who rafted or kayaked in earlier that day were gone. 

Zman and our Fearless Leader had put together a rope ladder to help us all climb back up into the rafts. Let me tell you...that is the hardest thing to do...pull your body weight up out of water that is over your head to get into a raft. I still had to have a lot of help from our Fearless Leader to get up the rope ladder. Brainiac was behind me. He was using his flip flops on his hands like flippers...he was the only one without a life vest. He had left it on the raft after his initial swim into the canyon and back to the rafts to tell us what was ahead. Everyone else was in the water, making the swim back to the rafts when I heard Survivor Man say, "That looks like a flash flood..."

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Oh my, but you are getting good at the cliff hanger endings, aren't you? Flash flood, that doesn't sound good at all.