Grand Canyon – Day 5

Day 5 – February 7
Nankoweap (53.4) to Lava Canyon (65.9)
River miles:12.5

This morning we woke and ate breakfast (oatmeal) and hiked up to the Nankoweap granaries. The granaries are rooms built into the Redwall where the native Americans stored their grain. Did they live up there too?! (editors note: no, they did not) I imagined you three walking along those skinny paths hundreds of feet up a sheer cliff. It was hard to imagine living up there.

Daddy thinks it was a seasonal storage unit that could be easily defended.

The sun broke over the canyon wall on the hike. We could see the sun beams hitting the far wall of the canyon. The view was breathtaking.

I climbed carefully, choosing where to put my foot and with Daddy and Grandpa’s help was able to make it the whole way. Going down was the hardest on my foot.

When we got back to camp those who hadn’t hiked had packed up most of the way.

Shawn’s cheek was still quite swollen but not as painful. I rode in his boat again today to keep an eye on him. We asked Gerry to ride with Matt, our lead boatman, to learn in case Shawn isn’t up for being a boatman in the coming days. We’re still praying.

Kuagant Rapid, class 5, was our main rapid today. We pulled over river right to scout the rapid.

When we shoved off to run the rapid we were almost sucked downstream by the current into a part of the rapid where we didn’t want to be. Shawn and Caroline jumped out to walk the boat back to the eddy. We watched Matt’s boat and Daddy’s go through with clean runs. Then it was our turn. We dropped in to huge waves but Shawn kept us squared up. Then a lateral wave knocked us left and we were heading straight for a rock. Shawn pulled back hard on the oars and we bumped the rock gently on the front right of the raft and spun around. We had to dodge a ½ submerged rock but then we were safely through.

I looked back for our fourth boat, Cory’s boat. He was letting Blake row the rapid. Blake dropped in well but got knocked sideways and couldn’t correct the raft in time. The raft got pushed into the same rock we bounced off of and got stuck between the rock and the canyon wall. We pulled off into an eddy as soon as we could but there was not a good way to get upriver to help them. We waited for a long time but eventually they got the raft free and we continued on our way.

I took a turn rowing to give Shawn a break. There were quite a few riffles and rapids in that stretch that were NOT in the guide book! I made it through but Caroline and Shawn claim that I got them the most splashed that they had yet been.

It was past 2 PM by the time we made it to our lunch spot. We stopped to explore where the Little Colorado River (LCR) merges with the Colorado River. Lunch was egg salad sandwiches or PB&J.

We ate quickly and then hiked over to the LCR. It was the strangest color, a milky turquoise blue that reminded me of cotton candy Dum Dums.

The LCR is quite clear but there is a white sediment that makes the river look milky. We put on our dry suits and floated down a short stretch of the LCR. Our suits puffed up with air and we laughed! It reminded me of Violet in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when she blows up like a blueberry.

After playing in the LCR we got back on the river. We had 4 miles to go before camp. We’ve been trying to get to camp by 4/4;30 so we have plenty of daylight to set up camp. I was back in Daddy’s boat. Grandpa took a turn riding with Shawn. Andrew was with us.

Going along we approached an unnamed rapid (it wasn’t in the guidebook) and decided to go down the biggest part of it. As we got closer I said, “if this rapid was in the guidebook I’d be concerned about our line because it looks like a hole.”

Just before we dropped into the rapid Andrew said almost mesmerized, “it’s so beautiful!” And it was, the wave coming to meet us was a gorgeous clear green color that looked like glass. As we met the wave we realized we just dropped into a huge hole!! Augh! Huge waves crashed over the bow of the boat as Daddy struggled to power us through the hole and not get stuck. We did make it through and then we laughed with great relief and amusement at our earlier conversation.

We arrived at camp a little after 4:30. I was shivering so first priority was to get my dry suit off and warm clothes on. Then it was time to make dinner. We were the kitchen crew tonight. We had cheese and crackers for an appetizer, salad, and chicken tikka masala with cauliflower. The sauce was spicy hot! But it all tasted really good and the sauce warmed us up. After dinner we sat around the campfire talking. Gerry pulled out scotch-a-roos that his wife had made and sent with him. It was a tasty treat for dessert. We were in bed before 9 and Daddy has fallen asleep as I am writing to you. He’s snoring. 🙂 We’re up at 5:40 tomorrow to make breakfast burritos. Time to sleep. Love you all! XOXO – Mom