Bass Camp (109.0) to Lower Blacktail Camp (120.7)
River Miles: 11.7
We woke to rain. Clouds covered the high reaches of the canyon. The morning was a dreary affair. Breakfast was eggs to order (fried – medium) over potatoes, onions, and peppers. I enjoyed a hot breakfast on a wet, chilly morning. We packed up camp groaning as we rolled up and stuffed wet tents, rain flys, and for some sleeping bags into their sacks.
It was a relief to get back on the river. We pushed off from shore a little after 9. The clouds were still dense and it was still raining but the majesty of the canyon was intense. We caught glimpses of snow on the north rim through the clouds.
We hit quite a few rapids and riffles and so kept a good pace. We made it through some class 3&4 and one 6 – all good fun, nothing too challenging when we came to 113-Mile Rock. The guidebook said we could pass on the left or right but the left was more narrow. All but Shawn chose to go right. His boat went left and got stuck – REALLY STUCK!
The boat was pinned up against the rocks and the current was forceful enough that they couldn’t push the raft back out. It took Shawn, Caroline, and Blake about 30 minutes to free the raft. What finally worked to free them was a 5-gallon bucket! They tied the rope to the handle of the bucket and then tossed the bucket downstream into the current. They had to let out only a certain amount of rope to find the sweet spot but they did on their second try. The bucket dragging in the current was enough force to free the raft. We were on our way again.
Elves Chasm was our next stop for lunch and exploration. Cory jumped in the raft with Daddy and I for the 3 miles to Elves Chasm. It was good to talk with him and hear more of his story. I rowed for a bit to warm up. I’m getting better.
Elves Chasm is a waterfall that has beautiful green vegetation. It smelled wonderful – like the big waterfall at Meijer Gardens, fresh and almost tropical. There was a ledge that was easily accessible if you passed under the waterfall. Daddy, Shawn, Blake, Andrew, and Mike all climbed up and jumped off into the pool of water.
I was sorely tempted to do the same but resisted (1.) because of my foot and (2.) It was already a cold day, being fully submerged even in my dry suit would make it colder. Next time for sure! Daddy said he thought about you all at Elves Chasm and imagined what fun you would have. He also thought Asa would go with him again and again off the ledge.
We were going to eat lunch there but decided to push on because camp was only a few miles away.
We had a few rapids in between and spent some time gathering firewood but still made it to camp by 2:15ish.
The other rafting group is at Upper Blacktail, just across the side canyon. We ran into them at Elves Chasm too.
Lower Blacktail has a steep slope up to camp. It was strenuous hauling all our gear up. The view is spectacular though. The river winds through the canyon walls and the horizon is filled with an iconic Grand Canyon wall.
Lunch was tabouli salad, summer sausage, beef jerky, and candy bars. After lunch people set about finding campsites and spreading out wet stuff to dry.
I wandered up Blacktail Canyon for a bit of solitude. The water carved out dramatic ledges and huge boulders are scattered throughout the floor.
I returned to camp to find Daddy a bit worried because I hadn’t told him where I was going. Safety first!
The whole crew except for Matt then walked up Blacktail Canyon together.
It was a short hike.
Gerry, the geologist, was very excited because exposed in Blacktail Canyon was a layer of rock called the Great Unconformity. It is rare to see this layer and speaks to the ancient age of the earth. He was delighted to observe it and named that moment as the highlight of his day.
Back in camp we set out to make dinner. It was coconut curry tonight. Daddy made a dessert (no-bake cheesecake), Gerry made an appetizer (cream cheese and olive tapenade on crackers), and I worked on the curry. Shawn called home while we made dinner and we heard you have A LOT of snow! Are you getting out to play in it?
After dinner we sat around the campfire discussing the next few days. It’s not clear what we will do but I think tomorrow we will aim for Racetrack Camp 14 miles downstream. It started to rain so I said good night and headed for our warm, dry tent. The rain stopped. We’ll see what tomorrow holds – hopefully blue skies! I love you all.