Rafting Grand Canyon
2004 August 22nd to 28
Rafting Grand Canyon
At 6:00 pm on the 21st of August, a Saturday, we gathered at La Quinta Inn in Flagstaff, Arizona for our Canyoneers orientation. At least most of us did. At that moment, Emily and I were zooming down Interstate 5 in California, somewhere around Kettleman City, 203 miles from Berkeley and 555 miles from Flagstaff. Had we opted to drive the remaining distance at 55 mph we would have arrived at the hotel at 4 am, only 1 hour before the morning orientation. Instead we drove faster, much faster, so that by 1:30 am we had arrived, picked up and packed our dry bags/ammo cans, showered, and tucked into bed. That night I had strange dreams about mud...
From the left we have: Casey and his lovely wife Emily from Berkeley, California; Taylor...
and her big brother Spencer and father Ned with Jill from Manhattan, New York;
Dana and her husband Keith from Vacaville, California with his dad Alan from Ann Arbor, Michigan;
the Honorable Judge Ron (photo circa 1965?) and his wife Carol from Seattle, Washington with daughter Kaylin from Olympia, Washington;
Bob and Karen from San Carlos, Mexico; Jim from Sedona, Arizona...
with Pam from Dallas, Texas; Andrew and Maria from Bellflower, California;
Stacy and Pablo (I miss "Clark" from version 1 of this site) from Flagstaff, Arizona; Captain Ken...
John without Elton John sunglasses, and storyteller Jamie, the crew; and Canyonman with Mudgirl.
Day 1: Flagstaff, AZ to Lee's Ferry (by bus) to downstream of Redwall Cavern
Emily and I were surprisingly refreshed after less than 4 hours of sleep and were some of the first people to gather in the conference room for breakfast (a lousy affair, although the make your waffle idea seemed promising) and the morning orientation, an amusing video featuring gross overacting. By 6:30 am all 40 of us had been herded onto a bus and by 9:30 am we had arrived at Lee's Ferry, divided into two groups, and were floating down the Colorado River.
Initially the river was clear but at mile 1 (mile 0 is Lee's Ferry and mile 280 is Pearce Ferry) we passed the Paria River and suddenly the water looked more like a Yoo-hoo drink. This surprised me since Emily and I had backpacked down to the Phantom Ranch several years earlier and found the water to be clear and cold and I assumed that was the norm since all of the silt coming down the Colorado is trapped behind Glen Canyon Dam. However, the side canyons can add a lot of silt, and for us, the water would remain brown until we reached the upstream end of Lake Mead, over 250 miles later.
As we motored down the river, and under the Navajo Bridge, Captain Ken had us introduce ourselves to each other and we started to become accustomed to river life, the rapids, our guides, and fellow travelers. Around noon we pulled over to the left bank (south side of the river) for lunch and later to the right bank to explore some small Anasazi cliff dwellings. That night we camped just downstream of Redwall Cavern on soft sand and had BBQ pork loin, peas, apple sauce, salad, and four kinds of cheesecake. Emily and I were impressed.
That night before bed Emily and I slipped into the Colorado to cool off and changed out of our synthetic river clothes (that we would wear for the next 6 days) and slept in more comfortable cotton attire under the brilliant stars with only a sheet covering us. It had been a great day, but long day, with blue skies and nary a cloud in the sky.
Emily carries some of our gear down to the boats at Lee's Ferry. Note how the clear Colorado River is at this point.
This photo, taken looking upstream, shows our sister vessel and the Navajo Bridge which stands 470 feet above the river. For the next 7 days we often passed and were passed by other expeditions but never shared a campsite, even with our sister vessel. Note the change in the river color from the picture taken at Lee's Ferry.
Around noon we stopped for lunch at an flat rocky outcropping with overhangs that provided much needed shade. Today, and all of the remaining days, lunches would be non-cooking affairs consisting of make-your-own sandwiches, chips, cookies, fig newtons, and fruit.
Vasey's Paradise, an oasis of flowers, ferns, mosses, and poison ivy is found on the right bank at mile 31.9.
Day 2: Downstream of Redwall Cavern to upstream of Lava Canyon Rapid
Captain Ken and the crew got an early start, and coffee was ready at first light. Breakfast was fruit, sausage, eggs, and pancakes. Emily and I slept great, but this was not unexpected since we were very tired having driven 760 miles the previous day in record time, arriving very late to the hotel. It was windy and sunny all day with minor clouds and before lunch we had been through quite a few rapids and passed by the Bridge of Sighs and the Anasazi Bridge. Emily and Spencer had a lively discussion regarding the layout and architecture of Venice, home to the Bridge of Sighs.
Around lunchtime we stopped at the Nankoweep Area (mile 52.2) and explored some more ruins after a short but steep hike followed by lunch back at the boat. After lunch we encountered scientists on the right bank studying the effects of non-native fish. Ken pulled the boat over and one of the scientists gave an interesting talk.
After leaving the scientists we picked up another passenger, a small bird that eventually took to sitting on peoples heads and at one time landed on my arm. Around the same time that we were all enthralled with the bird we passed the Little Colorado River (mile 61.4) and salt deposits on some left bank cliffs.
That night we camped upstream of Lava Canyon Rapid at a spot with many small secluded sites but not the soft sand from the previous night. That was of little consequence, however, since the sleeping pads provided by Canyoneers offered all the comfort we needed, even if we had slept on solid granite. Captain Ken told me of an abandoned mine so Spencer, Taylor, Emily and myself checked it out. Prior to our grilled halibut dinner we shared in some wine that Bob and Karen brought along and found out that Emily used to work with Bob's niece, Jehnee, at Chez Panisse.
Version 1 of this site featured Casey and Spencer perched atop this rock at the Nankoweep Area (mile 52.2), a bench above the river with a row of granaries constructed by ancestral pueblo people between 900 and 1150. Version 2 now stars Spencer and his little sister, Taylor. Thanks for the photo Ned!
It wasn't the river or the canyon that was the feature of the day but rather "Lucky" the bird, our 21st passenger for about 1/2 hour after lunch.
And Ron provides us with another photo of "Lucky", this time relaxing in the back of the boat with John.
Day 3: Upstream of Lava Canyon Rapid to downstream of Stephen Aisle
Eggs, bacon, English muffins, and fruit welcomed us to this overcast morning and we all donned our raingear prior to boarding the boat for today we would hit rapid, after rapid, after rapid. It was great fun and we all got soaked. Sometime before lunch we reached the Kaibab Bridge (mile 87.5) and pulled ashore to refill our drinking water vessels. Taylor and I ran up to and crossed the bridge, encountering Spencer on the way back, overheating since he was still wearing his rain gear.
At some point during the day I was warned about the dangers of climbing the rocks (especially since Spencer and Taylor had started to join my expeditions) and then, to make matters worse, I almost fell off the boat. Exactly what happened, I'm not sure, but I went over to join Emily who was sitting on the outrigger, and while crouched next to her and facing the center of the boat, in calm water, I just slipped. On the way down I clutched the only thing I could, Emily, and while I threatened to drag us both in Kaylin helped pull me up. It all happened very quickly and no more than my legs ever went in the water.
For me however, it was not the rapids but the "quiet float" that was the highlight of the river on this day. For a decent stretch of the river after lunch, Captain Ken cut the motor and told us to be quiet and we drifted lazily along the river with only the sounds of the canyon and the water lapping at the boat.
That night we camped around the mile 119 rapid on a large sandy beach with amazing sandstone formations and a huge shallow beach. With a deflated football, I played with Pablo, Spencer, and Taylor on the sandbar that reminded me more of beach on Florida's gulf coast than anything else. But watch out, those currents are strong as I discovered when I went for a swim towards some of the more interesting sandstone formations. As I started a freestyle stroke in waist deep water in the middle of the sandbar, heading upstream towards the right bank, it felt as if I was really flying. And when I neared the rocks and stopped swimming I discovered why, a strong current was still moving me at the same speed as when I was swimming! Luckily I was able to grab onto some rocks before the current shot me out into the main river channel.
Jamie grilled up fabulous chicken that night, which we devoured along with mashed potatoes, coleslaw and carrot cake. That night I awoke to a strange noise, but since I wear earplugs due to Emily's snoring I quickly fell back asleep. Emily, always a sound sleeper, was not woken by the odd sounds.
Karen emailed us this great picture of, starting from the left, Taylor's back, Emily's back, myself, Dana, Keith, and Alan looking at... something at a lull between the rapids on day 3.
And speaking of rapids, do you think this one got us wet? Thanks for the photo Maria. According to Andrew this is Houserock Rapid.
Looking downstream from the back of the boat we see our group, decked out in their best raingear, gazing at the Kaibab Bridge.
I crawled out onto the front of the boat to get this group shot. From the left we have: Ned, Maria, Andrew, Stacy, Pablo (facing wrong way), Pan, Jim, Taylor, John, Ken, Carol, Spencer, Kaylin, Emily, Jamie, Dana, Keith, Alan, Bob, and Karen. Where are Jill and Ron?
Stacy took this photo of Spencer and Taylor cleaning themselves at camp 3 before we started playing into the dusk in the water at this outstanding sandbar. To the right, not visible in this photo, the main channel flows from the top to bottom of the picture.
And speaking of playing into the night, here are Casey, Taylor, and Spencer from left to right, doing just that, in this photo taken by Stacy looking upstream. Note how the football is has evolved over thousands of years in the canyon and now blends in perfectly with the background, protecting it from predators.
Day 4: Downstream of Stephen Aisle to downstream of Kanab Canyon
Seems the strange noise last night was due to Captain Ken running the boats motor at full tilt in order to keep from getting stuck on the sandbar. It didn't work, despite a lot of people helping push in the middle of the night, so after a breakfast of French toast, sausage links, and fruit we manned buckets, dug trenches, pulled on an improvised 3-block sheave, pushed and finally freed the boat after about an hour of hard labor. Given that I was scolded the previous day for climbing rocks with the kids and then almost fell off of the boat this little turn of events actually made me feel better. This morning was also the first of two times that Emily used the Duke; she had some sort of phobia about pooing in the woods you see.
Our first stop of the day was at the Stone Creek Waterfall (if someone sends me a nice photo I'll put it in the site, you'll be famous!), our first exposure to fresh water since leaving Lee's Ferry. Emily and I ran up ahead of everyone, stripped, rinsed off, and had some clothes back on before anyone was the wiser. Being only about 20 feet high, I looked for a way to scramble up the waterfall and eventually discovered a route that started well downstream of the falls. After a few minutes of climbing I came to a well maintained trail, followed it, and to my surprise, by the time I was even with the waterfall again I was about 40 feet above the top of it! I had to shout at the top of my lungs to get the attention of everyone down at the base of the falls. The trail showed no signs of letting up so I jogged up it for about 10 minutes before turning back. I would have liked to go further, and could have since the trail was still in fine shape, but I didn't want the group to be waiting for me. Emily later told me that Taylor was poised to follow me up only to be stopped by her dad and sulked like nobody's business.
At lunch we had superb taco salad burritos, a nice change from sandwiches. Prior to eating Spencer and I climbed a small hill behind the beach and then came down a dry canyon just upstream of the boat. After lunch we stopped next at Deer Creek Falls, an amazing waterfall and pool that only postcards do justice. The pool was deep enough to swim and had hurricane level winds due to the falling water. We had fun swimming along the floor of the pool, away from most of the turbulence to the base of falls, and then popping out into the falling water.
But our biggest adventure today would be on the river when Ned and Spencer drove the boat, both with great skill although the younger of the two was the only one who Captain Ken let pilot us through a rapid. Way to go Spencer! We also had another quiet float which I enjoyed very much.
Sometime after lunch, or maybe before, we entered the narrowest part of the canyon and John began telling a story about a Disney expedition that took place many years ago. Seems their boat was to wide to get through the narrow section so they had to abandon much of their gear. However, the only remaining item left was a piano of all crazy things, and we could see it about 40 feet above the right bank. John went on to say that it only plays hard rock now such as "Slippery When Wet" or "Purple Rain". At that point a bucket of water flew through the air, aimed primarily at Spencer and myself but landing mostly on Carol, starting a water feud that would last the remainder of the trip. You got us good John! Incidentally, the rock did such a good impersonation that the following day Ned still thought it was an actual piano.
That night we camped about 1 mile downstream of Kanab Creek. I hadn't seen it on the way down but Ned told me it was there so I decided to check it out. It was a long scramble over rocks ranging in size from school buses to refrigerators and by the time I arrived at the creek I had bloodied my feet, legs, and hands but not seriously. However, I was wary of returning in the dark so I didn't go very far up the creek. On the return trip my left Teva type sandal (made by Nike) exploded and I threw them away back at camp, happy to switch to my running shoes after having my feet slide around in the sandals while exploring for the past 4 days.
We had burgers, bratwurst, Italian sausage, fries, and brownies for dinner that night. For me, the French fries were perhaps the most unexpected food that we were served on the entire trip. I can vividly picture John dropping handfuls of fries into the vat of boiling oil and Spencer eating them almost as fast as John could pull them out.
On the boat that night John showed his wit yet again when I asked him a question about the days activities. At the time I had a book in my hand, he pointed to it and asked "What's that?" to which I said "It's a book," and before I could say anymore he said "I know that, I mean what's it for?". Ha ha!
Before going to bed, once it was dark and most people were settled, Emily and I went down to the river, stripped, cooled off in the river, and then air dried in the moonlight as we had done on the previous nights. We woke up the following morning with only a sheet covering us, the sleeping bags still tucked safely away in the dry bags.
Deer Creek Falls on the right bank at mile 136.2 was our first chance to swim in non-river water. The winds in the pool due to the falling water are tremendously strong. Version 1 of this site featured a photo I pinched off of the internet but thanks to Andrew, I can now sleep soundly at night.
Here we see our boat stuck on the sandbar. Last night we played for hours on the sandbar, but it was covered with knee to waist deep water. Seems the crew didn't the move the boat enough times at night as the river was dropping due the electricity needs of the southwest provided by Glen Canyon Dam.
Ken throws ball to Emily. Jill adjusts fanny pack. Jim has horizontal legs. Powell's missing arm reappears. Stacy takes photograph. But where's Waldo?
Stacy provided this nice picture of "gentle" rapids. I'm not sure what day this was but, hey, it's a nice picture, clearly not taken from a disposable underwater camera.
Day 5: Downstream of Kanab Canyon to downstream of Lava Falls Rapid
Breakfast, as usual, was great. On this morning we had an egg scramble with cheese, onions, peppers, tomatoes, chorizo, and potatoes along with the usual assorted fruit. Our big destination of the day, and of every single person who heads down this river, was Havasu Canyon (if you have some nice pictures, sent them in!).
We arrived early in the day, before the other motorized boats, and were able to spend about 2 hours exploring the rift with turquoise-blue waters. Ken had warned us that lots of other groups would show up and most would stop at a pool not far from the Colorado so Emily and I ventured ahead along with Kaylin, Spencer, and Taylor. We found a great pool with a waterfall that had an air pocket behind it just big enough for your head so that we could, one at a time, perch behind the falls. Shortly thereafter we were joined by Stacy, Pablo, Ned, and Jill. After getting my fill of the pool I ran along the trail up the canyon for about 10 minutes before setting back in order to meet the deadline. Seems I was in a bit of a hurry to return, and only thanks to Stacy did I have a shirt for the rest of the trip.
Jill had set off back to the boat before us, and at the point we crossed the creek I looked ahead to see her scrambling up a cliff, with a 50-foot vertical drop to her left down into the amazing turquoise water. It was quite a sight, for Jill, a New York socialite, has the tall and thin figure of model. So there she was, clad only in shoes, a bathing suit, visor, and sunglasses, continuing forward into dire circumstances. We shouted and whistled, finally getting her attention, and eventually Jamie showed up and helped her back.
Lunch was left over burgers/sausage or ham sandwiches with Pringles chips. Sometime after lunch, while on the boat but still moored at the shore, Spencer pushed me in river in retaliation for an earlier episode with a bucket of water. I must say that I sunk like a rock and the life jacket didn't seem to do much good. Later that day, when we briefly stopped for a pee break, Keith picked me up, put me over his head, and threw me into the water. I didn't have a chance. Later Dana, Keith's wife, approached me with plan to dunk Keith, something she had never been able to do. Our attempt later that day, with the help of Emily, failed miserably.
Camp was another flat sandy beach but it took Taylor to discover its best feature, a MUD PIT!. She began playing in it almost immediately and I soon joined her. Spencer kept pestering us until I chased him down and dragged him into the muck as well. We buried Taylor as best we could for a while and then moved into synchronized handstands to back-flops.
Dinner was chicken fajitas, tamales (two kinds, one was quite spicy), and strawberry pound cake with whipped cream. After dinner a group gather and played a song game initiated by Taylor where those in the circle had to name songs with a "color" in it. After the color songs were exhausted they were followed by "woman", "moon", "baby", etc. That night it was a bit windy and I had my worst sleep of the trip due to the sand.
The Duke, the Duke, someone is making a poop! Carol and Jim agree that watching a guy make a poop is a funny way to start Day 5.
I am not happy with colors that resulted from my Kodak disposable underwater camera (I have had much better results with a Fuji) but this picture is still amazing. Here we see the dramatic change as Havasu Creek flows into the Colorado with Emily just visible on the rock at the left (look for her torso and left arm). I desperately wanted to swim in the canyon pictured below but access was sketchy and better judgment prevailed. And new for version 2 of the site, this photo features "sharpened" colors. Thanks Andrew.
A view of Pablo at Havasu Creek a few minutes upstream from the junction with the Colorado. Photography by Stacey.
At some point on the trip Taylor christened me "Canyonman" and she became "Mudgirl". Here the two alter-egos play in the mud pit at camp 5 to restore their super powers.
Day 6: Downstream of Lava Falls Rapid to Gneiss Canyon
Pancakes, bacon, and fruit filled our bellies this morning and to my great surprise Captain Ken requested that I sit on the front of the right outrigger for the next rapid. I was quite perplexed and excited while I made sure I had a really strong hand hold with my strongest arm, the left one, and then made sure I also knew where my right hand hold was although since I was facing forward, with the boat to my left, I entered the rapid with my right arm waving in the air. It was the mile 217 rapid, and at one second the boat was under me and the next it wasn't. In an instant I was in the water with only my left hand holding the rope and half of my body submerged. Perched above me, Ron was just about to give the throat slashing signal to indicate "man overboard" however, as quickly as I was in, I had somehow pulled myself back onto the pontoon and found myself giving Ken a big smile and thumbs up. He later told me that if you are going to fall in, this is the rapid to do it since dangers associated with the current, rocks, etc. are not as bad as the other rapids.
Bouldering was the activity of choice at lunchtime, and although it seemed an overhang was climbable, none of us were able to make the pitch. Sometime during the day, either before or after lunch, I can't remember, we rammed a rowboat with a one-armed passenger much to the delight and cheers of our crew. (They had started a water fight, you see.) After lunch we explored Travertine Canyon although the Captain warned all of us not to climb the ropes that we would see since he could not verify their safety since he did not put them there. Then each of the guides came up to me, independently, and told me to wait until everyone had left the lower the part of the canyon at which point they would escort me up the ropes. Emily was in on the fix as well but I wasn't able to enjoy the views since I found the deception a bit lame. Especially since, on our way down, we encountered another group of passengers climbing the ropes and ladders without incident. I probably shouldn't have shared that, but, well, no one reads this but Emily and my parents anyway.
Sometime after lunch, I think, we did a double take for on the left bank we saw two cars, Jeeps or some other sort of sport utility vehicles. Turns out we were at Peach Springs Canyon, home to a 20-mile graded dirt road connecting the river and the town of Peach Springs on route 66. If one continued south-west on route 66 they would arrive at Kingman about 50 miles later. After leaving Lee's Ferry one can count the number of times a man made intrusion is visible in the base of the canyon on one hand. First was the Navajo Bridge, second were the suspension bridges at Phantom Ranch and this was the third and final. Of course I'm not counting borings for potential dam sites, mines, water gauging stations, and other small signs of man that if not pointed out by someone in the know are usually missed anyway.
The boat pulled in just below Gneiss Canyon for the night and some of us camped in the canyon and some of us slept below it. I explored the canyon for a ways, and was amazed to find that most of it was wide enough to drive Jeeps side by side up it. Until you reached the 15-foot vertical rock a few minutes from the river, which I climbed, despite feeling that the hot rock would burn my hands, only to find that the canyon once again continued just as wide and flat as it had been down before the rock. As usual I ran up the canyon for a ways before heading back.
As this would be our last night on the river together and dinner was ribeye steaks, corn, beans, garlic bread, salad, and German chocolate cake. Ken warned us that we would have a talent show that night and it was so great that it has its own page. On this, our last night, Emily and I, as usual, cooled ourselves in the river prior to sleep and experienced an amazing full moon, the perfect compliment to our last night in the canyon.
This picture shows my favorite way to pass the time on the boat when in calm water, lying on the outrigger. It was especially nice to be in this position during the "quiet floats". Sometime, during minor rapids, Ken allowed us to stay on the outrigger and it was great fun being bumped around. Note that a rope secures all of the dry bags to the boat and provided a very good handhold during the rough rides.
Riding a major rapid on the front of the outrigger with only one hand hold can only lead to trouble. In this case I fell in seconds after Stacy took this photo but managed to hang on with my left arm and pull myself back up somehow. It happened so fast Ron didn't have time to give Ken the throat slashing signal to indicate man overboard.
Travertine Canyon was an oven! When we left the river and headed up the temperature felt like it increased by 20 degrees from already scorching triple digits. Well, maybe it wasn't that hot, but Pablo had the right idea and Stacy was there to document it.
Sometime after lunch we stopped here for a pee break, but not in the Pumpkin (sulfur) Springs please. The springs are only knee deep but wall behind me falls about 4 feet vertically directly into the Colorado. This photo, taken by Maria, also features Jill (in the same outfit she almost died in on day 5 at Havasu Creek), Emily, and Andrew.
Day 7: Gneiss Canyon to Spencer Canyon to Pearce Ferry by Jet Boat
We had been warned that breakfast would be a continental affair so I was pleased to have eggs in addition to pastries although by this time all of the protein was really affecting my system and my morning trip to the Duke was quite unsatisfactory, as it had been for several days.
In short order we came to Separation Canyon on the left bank where in 1869, on August 28, 135 years ago to the day (thank the guides for not pointing that detail out!) Powell lost 3 of his 9 men when they decided to hike out rather than face the rapids below this point (the rapids have long since been drowned out by Lake Mead). They had been on the river for 97 days and had enough. The three men left and were never heard from again while Powell and those who remained reached a small Mormon outpost near the junction of the Colorado and Virgin Rivers only 2 days later. The six ragged men had 10 pounds of flour, 15 pounds of dried apples, and 80 pounds of coffee.
It is interesting to note that only the last 1/3 of the Powell expedition was spent covering the section of river that we rafted through. It took them about 2 months just to reach what would later be the site of Lee's Ferry. For more information on the Powell expedition I recommend Down the Great Unknown by Edward Dolnick.
We did not stop at Separation Canyon and the next time we did get off the Canyoneers boat we would not get back on. It was on the right bank, across from Spencer Canyon, where we transferred our gear to a jet boat and at 9:30 am left Ken, John, and Jamie for good (I must say that once we all were on the jet boat they looked really happy).
Around 11:30 am we reached Pearce Ferry and an air conditioned bus waiting with lunchboxes from Subway and cold drinks. Prior to getting on the bus Emily and I rinsed off in the clear waters of Lake Mead and changed from our synthetic river clothes that we had worn for 7 days into nice and clean cotton attire. The bus drove us up from the boat landing to the bathrooms and by noon we were on the road.
The bus took us south to Kingman and then east to Flagstaff such that we arrived back at La Quinta at 3:30 pm. The 146-mile or 2-1/2-hour long bus ride from Kingman to Flagstaff was especially grueling for Emily and myself since once we were packed up we had to drive to here parents house, 450 miles away in Rowland Heights (LA area), via Kingman. However, back at the hotel was a time for goodbyes, always a sad affair, especially when kids like Spencer and Taylor are involved. With hugs exchanged, we headed out of the hotel, at least I did, for Emily was being mauled by the kids.
Andrew and Maria were also driving back to the LA that night, and we had to pass them in the right hand land near Williams despite their head start. I suspect that if Maria was driving we would not have seen them again. Once again in Kingman we had to stop for gas, and moments after getting back on the freeway at 5:45 pm, what did we see, none other than a truck hauling a Canyoneers boat in the opposite direction. By 6:15 pm we passed over the Colorado River and into California. As the sun set behind the Shadow Mountains we zoomed through the desert and had a "beauty alert" and sometime before 10:00 pm we arrived at Emily's parents house. 2-1/2 days later we would drive another 400 mile back home to Berkeley bringing our grand total up to 1,606 miles or more than halfway across the United States via the 2,943 mile route on Interstate 80 from San Francisco to Ocean City, Maryland.
Last day on the river and the required group photo taken with Ned's camera at our last campsite, looking upstream. Starting at the top left we have: Ned, Jill, Carol, Ron, Kaylin, Alan, Pablo, Karen, Jim, and Andrew. And from the bottom left we see: Dana, Keith, Taylor, Spencer, Casey, Emily, Stacy, Bob, Pam, and Maria.
After 7 days we are still alive and happy, although I appear to have lost my left arm in a terrible "cropping" accident.
Four kids on the jet boat; Casey, Taylor, Emily, and Spencer starting from the left. Emily had been wearing that hat for over a year prior to this trip but it was only after seeing these pictures that she realized how silly it made her look.
When I said, "Taylor, I think I only have one or two pictures left so you better not take one!" it was followed by a "click". Hmm, what to do with this precocious 11-year old girl?
Sometime after lunch Captain Ken warned us that we would be expected to perform at a talent show that night and also encouraged us to dress up as best we could, using our sheets as Togas for example. The former was taken to heart and all 20 of us did something in front of the others while the latter only got luke warm reception. Taylor appointed herself to be the master of ceremonies and spent the time in camp leading up to the show getting the order set while decked out in a two tone Toga. This made it all the more unfortunate that she fell off the boat into the water only minutes before the show, but as they say, the show went on.
It began with magic show in which Spencer read Ned's mind. It should also be noted at this point that Ned gets double-bonus dress up points for showing up to the show in pressed khakis and a gleaming white Polo shirt. Kaylin was next with a geological juggling routine made anything but by the lack of light. Up next was Jamie who read the poem Wilderness Song by Everett Ruess, which is reproduced completely without permission below.
I have been one who loved the wilderness
Swaggered and softly crept among the mountain peaks
I have listened long to the seas brave music,
I have sung my songs above the shriek of desert winds.
On canyon trails when warm nights winds were blowing,
Blowing and sighing through the star tipped pines,
Musing, I walked behind my placid burro,
While water rushed and broke on pointed rocks below.
I have known a green seas heaving,
I have loved red rocks and twisted trees and cloudless turquoise skies,
Slow sunny clouds and red sand blowing.
I have felt the rain and slept behind the waterfall.
In cool sweet grasses I have lain and heard the ghostly murmur of regretful winds,
In aspen glades where rustling silver leaves whisper wild sorrows to the green gold solitude's,
I have watched the shadowed clouds pile high.
Singing, I rode to meet the splendid shouting storm,
And fought it's fury until the hidden sun foundered in darkness,
And the lightning heard my song.
Say that I was tired and weary,
Burned and blinded by the desert sun,
Footsore, thirsty sick with strange diseases, lonely
And wet and cold,
But that I kept my dream.
Always I shall be one who loves the wilderness.
Swaggers and softly creeps among the mountain peaks.
I shall listen long to the seas brave music.
I shall sing my songs above the shriek of desert winds.
He was followed by the Four Raisins, or Bob, Karen, Jim, and Pam who composed the unique river diddy sung to the tune of Yellow Submarine.
We all live in a Canyoneers' boat
trying to stay afloat
on a Canyoneers' boat.
We all live in a Canyoneers' boat
for a 7-day float
on the grandest of moats!
We've seen sheep and goats
pick up crap that floats,
but we didn't know we'd bathe
in a murky, muddy moat.
We've traveled near and far
by sun and silver star
but the trail to the Duke
is the best one by far!
With Ken at the helm
and John with the gun,
Jamie telling stories,
we've had a lot of fun!
At the end of the ride
we all get to gloat--
We've done the Grand Canyon
in a Canyoneers' boat!
We all live in a Canyoneers' boat
trying to stay afloat
on a Canyoneers' boat.
We all live in a Canyoneers' boat
for a 7 day float
on the grandest of moats!
It was a hard act to follow but Ron was up to the challenge, by covering himself with a sheet illuminated from within by a headlamp, he was Beethoven's Ghost. Carol came next with a recitation of Shel Silverstein's Boa Constrictor poem and it was such an animated recital that she had a hard time keeping herself in her Toga. John was up next and it seemed at first that he was going to, well, fart on us. With his back to us, hands on knees, he faced the river in silence for about 10 seconds, only to turn around and let out the loudest burp ever heard. Andrew sang a portion of Blues in the Night to Maria next, an affair that can best be described as uncomfortable and awkward for all involved, including the viewers. Another song followed, this time Stacy singing Hey Big Spender to Pablo. The Weintraub trio came up next singing Canyoneer Things, my favorite part of the show.
Big drops in rapids with brown water splashes
Squirt guns and buckets and John's silly glasses
Hating the sun and our burns that still sting
These are a few of our Canyoneer things.
Ken's steady piloting, Jamie's great stories
Grand Canyon splendor in all of its glory
Praising the sun and the warmth that it brings
These are our favorite Canyoneer things.
Riding the Duke when another boat passes
Sand in our ears and our clothes and eyelashes
Digging out boats, while eating like kings
These are some of our Canyoneer things.
When your boss barks
And the job starts
When you're feeling sad
Simply remember these Canyoneer things
And then you won't feel so bad.
Another song followed, this time Emily singing, no belting out, We are in Love to me. This was followed by me singing Canyonman to the tune of Monty Pythons' Lumberjack song. However, it was my outfit more than the song that caught everyone's attention. While on stage, Emily held a sheet up allowing me to strip and clap myself only with one small dry bag in front and one in the back, connected by carabineers.
I'm the Canyonman and I'm OK,
I sleep all night and hunt all day.
I wrestle sheep,
I climb big rocks,
and cover myself with crudddddddd!
Emily sings first verse while Casey dances.
I wish I was a Captain,
so I could get the boat stuck in muddddddddddd!
Emily sings second verse while Casey dances.
Ken rounded out the show with a reading of A Boatman's Prayer. I wore my Canyonman outfit until Emily insisted that I take it off.
Toga party! From left to right we have Canyonman, Kaylin, Carol, Emily, Stacy, Taylor, Dana, and Keith