The Colorado River in the Grand Canyon – the “Enhanced” Hance Rapid


In August of 2012, a large flood in Red Canyon enlarged its delta, and eliminated the left run of Hance Rapid. The rock debris from the flood filled the channel that was positioned between the left shore and the rock some call Muffin Rock, and thereafter denied river runners what was probably the easiest and least risky run in Hance Rapid. Now, one must enter the rapid on river right by one of two tongues. The leftmost of the two is the best choice if one wishes to enter the Duck Pond, a large area of slack water found downstream of the rock pile that occupies the middle of the river at the top of the rapid. From the Duck Pond, one can attempt the crossing to river left, or run down the middle of the rapid. The rightmost of the two is best if one wishes to do the right run.

We arrived in September of 2012, and scouted on river right. It was a nasty, rainy day and I took only my waterproof point and shoot Lumix camera with me on the scout. Ahead of us was a party that had started at Lees Ferry on the same day as ourselves, and included a dory boatman by the name of Duwain Whitis. Duwain is the co-author of a popular guidebook to the river, as well as to other rivers (www. rivermaps.net). My party, therefore, remained at the scouting overlook while his party made their runs. Following are: Duwain’s very deft run down the middle,  my wife Kathy’s right to left run and Britt Runyon’s video of same. 10 photos and one video.

Duwain enters on the left side of the right tongue. I believe he had intended to enter on the left tongue.

Duwain enters on the left side of the right tongue.

... and starts down the middle

… and starts down the middle

... and continues down the middle

… and continues down the middle

Duwain drops into a big hole. The Xs show his position in the 3 prior photos.

Duwain drops into a big hole. The Xs show his position in the 3 prior photos. A kayaker and SUPer (on his knees) are seen in the Duck Pond

From the boat that I am rowing, Kathy is seen rowing over to the left tongue. These are following shots of Kathy's run were taken by Orlando Torres, with my Lumix.

From the boat that I am rowing, Kathy is seen arriving at the left tongue. These photos of Kathy’s run were taken by Orlando Torres, with my Lumix.

Kathy hits a rock along the left margin of the tongue and gets bounced and turned around

Kathy has rebounded off a rock positioned along the left margin of the tongue and gets turned around

 ... and then turns back, and starts to row leftwards across the lower end of the Duck Pond

… and then turns back, and starts to row leftwards across the lower end of the Duck Pond

... and continues her progress to river left.

… and continues her progress to river left. Although most folks aren’t looking at riverside rocks while rowing across Hance, this view shows (top left) the Bass Limestone appearing for the first time, as it bends steeply upward.

and gets safely across the rapid. Meanwhile, I continue in the same direction and fail to square up for a big hole that takes me by surprise, and flip!

Kathy gets safely across the rapid. Meanwhile, I continue in the same direction, fail to square up for a big hole that takes me by surprise, and flip!

Back to the good old days. Kathy executes the move into the eddy below Muffin Rock, which begins the left run.

Back to the good old days. Kathy executes the move into the eddy below Muffin Rock, which begins the left run. Also seen in this photo is the basalt dike that cuts up through the Hakatai Shale. The Hakatai and the Bass Limestone (noted in a prior photo) are the final two members of the Grand Canyon Supergroup, except for the thin and inconspicuous layer of the Hotauta Conglomerate found at the base of the Bass Limestone.

Just before the end of this video (Britt Runyon, http://brittrunyon.com/), you’ll see his boat hit a large hole and get slapped around to the right. This is the hole that flipped me.

About believesteve

I am a photographer and have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447?ls=1
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