Saturday, February 21, 2009

Last summer...

I've been a whitewater guide for many years; I began when I was working at an engineering company at a job that basically meant I didn't ever get outdoors, as a reason for getting out.

That's Taylor in the straw hat.

So here's some pictures and narrative from the 2008 trip.

Each trip begins by rigging the boats at the put in. It's a bit of a yard sale as the gear is sorted, placed and rigged.

Christopher on left, and Michael on right

I've taken guide training courses, rescue course, first aid courses and CPR courses and am current in all of my certifications. That means that for folks who have waited a long time for a grand canyon permit to come up I'm a great choice to row their friends, family or gear down the river for them. I'm safe, have been down the canyon 7 times, and REALLY enjoy baking in Arizona for a month. It's a big change from Seattle, and especially Seattle in February.

Michael was kind enough to invite me to row with him. Thanks again Micheal!

Susanna getting browner by the minute

This is my brother Bryan, who's never been on any sort of vacation in his life. I was glad he could come along; this is one of the finest places on earth.

The trip is 3 weeks long. So I'm skipping idyllic days of floating down a huge canyon, some of the best views on earth, beautiful desert scenery, ancient ruins... all sorts of stuff. One of the places we stopped at was redwall canyon. The first picture is from the front looking in, and the 2nd from the back looking out. It's HUGE.

Here's Andrea at the nankoweap granaries. This is about 1500 feet above river level. Quite a bit of comment from Andrea after this hike. I wasn't sure exactly what she was saying, but she seemed to mean it a lot.

Camps are pretty informal. Any sandbar will do. This was a small trip, so there were plenty of choices each night. We'd figure it out roughly how many miles we wanted to cover and then settle in for the night.
No matter where we camped the scenery and views were spectacular.

(I'm skipping several more days of Class II,III, IV rapids, great rainbow trout fishing and so on) This is the Little Colorado river, a tributary to the Colorado river. The blue, warm waters make a nice change from the main Colorado's intermittent mud and cold. We hit it perfect on a blue day. Can't beat this. Well, yes you can. You can swim in it. It's WONDERFUL.

Or body surf the little rapids. Great fun. Here's Andrea.

The side hikes are one of the best parts of a river trip down the canyon. This is a little slot canyon with a cool waterfall.

There are HUNDREDS of cool rapids to run. Every day you'll run several, and on some days you'll run 10 or more. Click on the picture for a bigger version. This is Micheal disappearing into a wave in Hermit rapid.
halfway through that particular wave
This is thunder river. An entire good sized creek flows out of a hole in the sandstone and pours down hundreds of feet making an impossible oasis in the middle of the desert. It's well worth the hike...


Susanna, happy to have made it. I'll leave you with this picture of the thunder river waterfall. The trip was another 2 weeks past here, and each day is another adventure. If you've ever wanted to take a wilderness trip, the Colorado river through the grand canyon is one I highly recommend.

Andrea at the base of the first cascade of thunder river


MMP said...

Great views. We were last in the big ditch in '05. In '03 I piloted a raft for less than an hour before it spontaneously flipped. Rafts a inherently dangerously. ;) My preffered craft for the canyon is an old school squirt boat. I've done it a couple of times in my squirt boat (once in February). Some of the best days I have known. The guy who introduced me is there now. Some of my favorites are surfing the wave at Ruby, laying back with the bow pointed to sky contemplating the sheer walls and solitary clouds in the flats, Surfing below travertine falls after Diamond creek.

On my first trip we all flew out as a group. We spent a month together and saw only 2 other trips. The everyday routine of load the raft in the morning, new experiences all day, unload the raft at night, repeat as necessary... We flew back together. Standing on the sidewalk outside the airport back home, it was so odd for us to be seperating at dusk. For me the rythm really takes hold after about a week, I loose myself in it, my sense of time dramatically changes while I am there.

Bruce King said...

It's hard to describe to folks who haven't done the trip what it's like. I've been down 7 times in the last 10 years; twice in 2007. I love the feeling of pushing off the beach at lees ferry and having it sink in that there is no going back. You're committed.

MMP said...

The last couple of trips I have managed to make it into a six week odyssey by driving the gear out and back. I have generally driven out with one or two of the other participants. It gives us an extra week to break from our usual patterns and get into the groove of traveling together. In 05 I trailered my motorcycle out to flagstaff and then rode from flagstaff to wyoming and back for my brother's wedding before getting on the trip. The riding out west was spectacular. Beautiful country out ther all over.