On Sept. 17, 2016, Kathy, myself and a group of friends launched a 21-day “Grand” trip, from Lees Ferry, AZ. This was my 17th such trip, and Kathy’s 15th. Other members of the party with prior Grand Canyon experience included CJ Robison (former New Wave Rafting Co. guide, permit holder and trip organizer), Britt Runyon Huggins (current NWR Operations Manager and CJ’s significant other), Mark Lewis (Kathy’s brother-in-law) and Heather Manone (former NWR guide, who did a half-trip). First-timers included Jesse Verellen (current NWR guide, who shared a boat with me), Joe Cameron (current NWR guide) and his girlfriend Sara, James Shinas (former NWR guide) and his wife Lisle, Georgia Jenkins, her boyfriend Zack and Robert Tiesberg (who did a half-trip). The trip went off without a hitch, excepting the swim CJ took in Deubendorff Rapid, after being ejected from her boat. But she held onto the boat the entire time and suffered no injuries. Otherwise, the very professional “Whole Shebang” outfitting by Ceiba Adventures made for great ease in executing the trip, and was, in my opinion, reasonably priced. Apart from some rain, we had very pleasant weather and moderate temperatures, with little or no wind.
We assembled at Ceiba’s office/warehouse in Flagstaff on the 16th, where we loaded our personal gear into a trailer, and departed for Lees Ferry.
Once there, we unloaded Ceiba’s gear trailer, inflated the boats, attached the frames and loaded the boats. Come evening, we were picked up by Marble Canyon Lodge for dinner and after returned to Lees Ferry.
We received the NPS briefing at the private river-runners camp and launched shortly thereafter. We pulled over for lunch around Mile 3.
We passed under the Navajo Bridges at Mile 4.5, and ran Badger Rapid (Mile 8.0) without scouting it. The only danger posed by this rapid is a hole to the right of the tongue, which I mention in the following video:
We passed Ten Mile Rock and arrived at Soap Creek Rapid (Mile 11.4), which also we ran without scouting. We had been warned of a new hole on the left, the result of a recent storm that caused debris flows and side canyon flooding in the area. So we entered the rapid to the right, and looked over at the large new hole to the left.
We made camp #1 at 12.4 Mile Camp, on the left.
Just downstream from camp we entered the Supai Gorge. We then began to notice new features from the flooding mentioned above, including what I believe are some new rapids:
There was no question about the newness of the next rapid that we encountered, in Mile 13. In the video, the first thing seen is the new fresh-looking delta and then a sandstone ledge that juts out directly over the rapid. There was no rapid here before, as can be seen in the accompanying photos:
We stopped for lunch and a hike at North Canyon.
North Canyon Rapid, at Mile 20.7, starts the “Roaring Twenties” section of whitewater. The Supai Group of sandstones is now at riverside.
Our second camp was Lone Cedar Camp, at Mile 23.5
Just downstream from camp we would encounter the more demanding of the Roaring Twenties rapids – 24 Mile, 24.5 Mile, 25 Mile and 27 Mile.
After these great rapids, we switched-over to land-based entertainment – namely, Silver Grotto, at Mile 29.5
Camp #3 was at South Canyon, Mile 31.8.
Just downstream of South Canyon is Vasey’s Paradise, at Mile 32.2.
A few minutes downstream brought us to Redwall Cavern, at Mile 33.3.
We did a lay-over at Eminence Camp – nights #4 and #5. The lay-over was to provide time to hike the Eminence Break trail, which follows a fault gully to the rim. Congrats to Mark, who went all the way to the top – about 2500′ vertical! Others, such as myself, rested.
Lay-over at Eminence Camp
It was raining as we came to Saddle Canyon, and we passed it by. We stopped at Nankoweap for lunch and the hike to the granaries. The next layer to appear was the slope-forming Bright Angel Shale, the bottom-most layer seen in this river to rim view.
The first rapid downstream of Nankoweap is Kwagunt Rapid, which we ran without scouting.
Camp #6 was at Below Awatubi Left Camp, Mile 59.1.
During the night, a considerable amount of water (5,000 cfs, we were informed) from a flood upstream on the Paria arrived at camp. The river rose into the kitchen and floated away a plastic box of small musical instruments that Kathy had brought along. “The river giveth, and the river taketh away”, Kathy mourned. The box was, however, found and returned to us by the fisheries personnel that we kept bumping into.
Our first stop of the day was at the Little Colorado River, Mile 61.7. It had been raining so much that we were doubtful that the Little Colorado would be running its usual color. But, as we walked a few yards upstream from the boats, there it was – the turquoise Little Colorado.
NOTE: This spot – the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers – is the target of a development scheme that hopes to build a tram from the nearby rim to the river. To this very magical and most unique spot! This must not be allowed! Please send a note to Sally Jewell, the Secretary of the Interior, demanding that this proposal be denied.
A gorge of the Tapeats Sandstone begins below the LCR, and ends near Carbon Creek, where we had lunch. Then we entered what I call the Dox Valley. This is an unusually open valley, by virtue of the fact that the Dox is a very soft rock. The Dox is the first member of the Grand Canyon Supergroup of tilted rocks, which group is seen only where faults have down-dropped segments of it. This preserved those rocks from erosion, which removed the Supergroup elsewhere.
The next rapid of note was Tanner Rapid, which has one big wave that can knock you around.
The cliff seen in the video is the Dox sandstone.
We ran 75 Mile Rapid without scouting. There, the river runs into the next layer up of the Grand Canyon Supergroup, the cliff-forming Shinumo Quartzite.
Just downstream from 75 Mile Rapid is Papago Canyon, Mile 76.5, where we made our camp #7.
Part #1 ends here. Part #2 starts with Hance Rapid and our entry into the exciting Upper Granite Gorge! Here’s the link to Part #2:
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