The Colorado River in the Grand Canyon – Bright Angel Creek and Horn Creek Rapid


Immediately downstream of Cremation Camp is the Kaibab bridge, the Bright Angel beach and the trail to Phantom Ranch, a short ways upstream on Bright Angel Creek. Waiting not far downstream of Bright Angel is Horn Creek Rapid, which gets nastier and nastier, the lower the water gets. Low water may become the new normal condition on the Colorado, as global warming continues to tighten its grip on the Southwest. Let’s hope I’m wrong. If not, river runners are going to have a hard time enjoying their stop at Phantom Ranch, with Horn Creek on their minds! 17 photos.

Kaibab bridge

Kaibab bridge, with boats seen beyond at Bright Angel beach, Mile 88. The cottonwoods mark Bright Angel Creek.

Fisheries researchers at Bright Angel beach

Fisheries researchers at Bright Angel beach

Phantom Ranch sign

Phantom Ranch sign, seen along the trail

Bright Angel Creek

Bright Angel Creek

Ethan and CJ take advantage of the US mail service at Phantom Ranch

Ethan and CJ take advantage of the US mail service at Phantom Ranch

Cascades in Pipe Creek, just a few yards from the river

Cascades in Pipe Creek, at the beach just a few yards from the river, Mile 89.5, river left

Zoroaster Temple, telephoto view from Pipe Creek

Zoroaster Temple, telephoto view from Pipe Creek

On river right, this granite seam and promontory in the Tapeats marks Horn Creek Rapid, Mile 90.8

On river right, this granite seam and promontory in the Tapeats marks Horn Creek Rapid, Mile 90.8

090HornCreekRapidEthan_0424SIGNED

How to run Horn Creek Rapid, #1. Ethan and Andrew Miller. Ethan is punching into the eddy created by the rock seen above the boat. This move ensures that he is now sufficiently to the left, and will be able to avoid some large holes downstream.

He now follows the eddy line

#2. He has now turned to face downstream, and follows the eddy line along the left side of the tongue

He's still to the left and set up to miss the large hole ahead

#3. He’s still to the left and set up to miss the large hole ahead. Note the boat in the eddy to the right.

Ethan sails by the last big hole

#4. Ethan sails by the last big hole

How not to run Horn Creek Rapid, #1

How NOT to run Horn Creek Rapid, #1. The boatman (who will remain unnamed) has not made the move to the left, and the current is directing the boat into the gnarly hole seen ahead and to the right.

#2. He hit the hole and his passenger went flying out of the boat. She is seen to the side of the boat here, and will get swept (and scraped) around the big rock. The boat is now stuck in a "no-exit" eddy.

#2. He hit the hole and his passenger went flying. She is seen to the side of the boat here, and will get swept (and scraped) around the big rock below. The boat is now stuck in the eddy, trapped by the powerful current running right into the rock.

#3. We attempted to pull the boat far enough out of the eddy to avoid a high-side on the rock

#3. We attempted to pull the boat far enough out of the eddy to avoid a high-side on the rock

#4. But to no avail

#4. But to no avail

#5. And the boat predictably flips.

#5. And the boat predictably flips.

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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