The Colorado River in the Grand Canyon – Hermit Rapid


Another of the greats, Hermit Rapid, at Mile 95.5, is unforgettable – at least if you’ve run it at a high enough level to experience its REALLY big waves (12,000 cfs or higher?). At one time, the rapid consisted of a succession of pyramidal waves that got bigger, one after the other, until culminating in the massive 5th. wave. As big as it was, Wave #5 was, however, remarkably forgiving. You just had to hit it straight and hold your breath, as the wave collapsed on you. And, more often than not, you emerged right side up. Below is a series of shots of boats on Wave #5, from 1995. I now characterize the pre-1996 period as the time of the “classic” Hermit. That’s because a 1996 intentional flood release changed Hermit, but not necessarily for the better. The new Hermit has more, but less regular, waves, with the bottom-most wave (#8) flipping boats with greater frequency than seen before the change. The flooding that occurred in August of 2012 changed Hermit once again, with the largest wave (at least on the occasion we were there) now the first. 15 photos

Kathy, on the tongue of Hermit Rapid

Kathy, on the tongue of Hermit Rapid

This is a series of photos from 1995 - Paul, in a 14' Riken

This is a series of photos from 1995 – Paul, in a 14′ Riken

This is a series of photos from 1995 - Molly and Maria get a little sideways, and teeter on the brink. In a 14' Achilles

This is a series of photos from 1995 – Molly and Maria get a little sideways, and teeter on the brink. In a 14′ Achilles.

This is a series of photos from 1995 - who's at the oars? Laina, in a 14' Sotar, leapt forward, to high-side in the bow! She's in there, somewhere.

This is a series of photos from 1995 – who’s at the oars? Laina, in a 15′ Sotar, leaped forward, to high-side in the bow.

This is a series of photos from 1995 - Joel submarines through, in a 15' River Rider.

This is a series of photos from 1995 – Joel submarines through, in a 15′ River Rider.

This is a series of photos from 1995 - Bill and Bernadette go sailing over the top, in a 16' Shoshone

This is a series of photos from 1995 – Bill and Bernadette go sailing over the top, in a 16′ Shoshone.

This is a series of photos from 1995. Kathy took this photo of me, in a 15' Cheyenne. I'm on top of Wave #4, looking across the chasm to Wave #5. It took a count of three to get from the crest of #4 to the crest of #5. No boats in the party flipped in Hermit on this occasion

This is a series of photos from 1995. Kathy took this photo of me, in a 15′ Cheyenne. I’m on top of Wave #4, looking across the chasm to Wave #5. It took a count of three to get from the crest of #4 to the crest of #5. No boats in the party flipped in Hermit on this occasion.

Scouting Hermit, post-1996. The largest waves are seen far downstream, in the shadowed area.

Scouting Hermit, Sept. 2008. The largest waves are seen well downstream, in the shadowed area.

The flood of August 2012 seemed to have changed the rapid again, as we arrived less than a month later. Here, we're still running on the red water from the flood in the LCR. It now appears that the biggest wave in the rapid is at top right, and Neil heads for it. On this trip, he had his Mom in the bow, and spared her nothing.

The flood of August 2012 seemed to have changed the rapid again, as we arrived less than a month later. Here, we’re still running on the red water from the flood in the LCR. It now appears that the biggest wave in the rapid is at top right, and Neil heads for it. On this trip, he had his Mom in the bow (of his 16′ Shoshone), and spared her nothing.

Neil hits that big wave hard!

Neil hits that big wave hard!

Granite tower catches the late afternoon sun, on river right, Mile 95.7

Granite rib catches the late afternoon sun, on river right, Mile 95.8

Upstream view from below Hermit Rapid, Mile 95.8 or so

Upstream view from below Hermit Rapid, Mile 95.8. Note the granite rib seen in the prior photo.

Schist camp, river left at Mile 96.5, has beautiful schist architecture, along with travertine boulders. My old Sierra Designs mountain tent dates this photo.

Schist Camp, river left at Mile 96.5, has beautiful schist architecture, along with travertine boulders. My old Sierra Designs mountain tent dates this photo.

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In the eddy at Schist Camp, upstream view

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Upstream view from Schist Camp, with last light on the Tapeats, and Cope Butte and the Great Mojave Wall beyond

Crystal is next!

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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