Day 8 – February 10
Across from Pipe Creek (89.3) to Emerald (104.4)
Grandpa woke us at 6 AM. Daddy got up immediately to get ready to ferry Grandpa across the river. Today was Grandpa’s hike up and out of the canyon. I took a slower wake up and when I got out of the tent – coffee was ready. I sat and talked with Grandpa for a few minutes as the sky began to lighten and dawn broke through the darkness.
Daddy, Grandpa and Mike got ready to go. They took the kitchen boat because that was the lightest boat. Most things come off that boat each day to set up the kitchen. They made it across without any problem.
Daddy and Grandpa scrambled up a steep incline before they joined up with Bright Angel Trail.
Daddy walked with Grandpa for about 10 minutes before heading back to the boat. On the way back he met two other groups of hikers. We were encouraged that Grandpa would not be alone on his hike. The trail was very busy.
Mike was waiting at the boat for Daddy and they made it back across but barely. The current carried them a fair way downstream. Andrew ran to help and walked the boat back to camp.
Breakfast was omelets and with that we packed up camp and shoved off. The goal was Bass Camp, 18 miles downriver. That was a really ambitious goal but we decided to wait and see how the day went before committing to a plan. It was a later start than normal and we had four class 8 rapids waiting for us.
The first rapid we came to was Horns Rapid, named for two rocks at the top of the rapid. The most popular run is to shoot the horns, which means to go through them.
That is just what we did. As we dropped into the rapid the horns rose up on either side with water gushing over them. The waves we hit were massive and forceful but we hit them straight on and had a clean run. It was awesome!
Andrew and I were in Daddy’s boat today. Andrew is Daddy’s close friend from college. We had fun talking and laughing together.
A few miles down was Granite Rapid. To scout this rapid we pulled into Granite Camp. It was a really cool camp. Brush and greenery were planted to make trails and hidey-holes for tents. If we get to do this again with you all, I want to camp at Granite! The wind had picked up and in some of the flat sections the wind was fierce enough that it pushed us upriver. It made rowing very strenuous.
Granite Rapid had most of the water rushing along the canyon wall on river right. That is where we went. Matt’s boat, directly in front of us, entered the rapid and took off like a shot! This rapid was WILD! We dropped into the rapid and had a wet, exciting ride! Daddy said that one scared him because he felt like he barely had control of the raft.
We had a few miles of somewhat calm water so I took a turn rowing. When the wind picked up I turned the boat and rowed with my whole strength! It was tough. No wonder Daddy is exhausted by the end of each day.
Hermit Rapid was up next. We ate lunch at the scouting spot. It was a strange Mexican beef salad. I regret putting so many salads on the menu for lunch. It would be easier, quicker and cleaner to do sandwiches or hummus. Something to remember for next time.
Hermit was BIG water! The wave train goes down the middle with the fifth wave being the biggest. We dropped in and it was exactly like a rollercoaster – up and down. Huge drops and big waves to crash over us. So much fun!
The wind was still blowing hard and the clouds darkened and gathered in one grey mass. It looked like a storm was brewing.
We weren’t sure what to do. We had one more big rapid left – Crystal. There was a camp at the top of Crystal but if we stayed there it would mean we would run Crystal, one of the toughest, meanest rapids in the canyon, first thing in the morning with no warm up. If we ran Crystal today, it meant we either went 11 more miles to an ideal camp or settled 5-6 miles downriver for a less than ideal camp.
Well, the boatmen all wanted to run Crystal today so we went for it. It was huge, confused water. We entered river left and stayed there. We passed a HUGE hole on river right, a raft would be in big trouble if it hit that! The current pushed us very close to the canyon wall and we would’ve hit if Daddy didn’t pull us back in time. Daddy was a rockstar today!
He rowed those rapids so well! I’m super proud of him. All the rafts made it through Crystal. Shawn’s boat hit the canyon wall and instead of bouncing off like he expected the force of the water behind the raft started to push one side of his boat underwater. Luckily, he was able to spin out and continue without further incident.
The boatmen were tired after Crystal and we still had several rapids to get through before we had a suitable option for camp. The sky was still cloudy and dark and the wind was formidable. I thought of you all flying today and prayed for you throughout the day. I hoped your flights were smooth without any storms.
Daddy and I made the tough decision to not press onto Bass Camp. It would be too much. We stopped at Emerald Camp, which is not ideal but it works.
The crew was tired and some grumbled a bit about camp but there was nothing we could do. This was the best and safest option that we had.
We were on kitchen crew so we jumped into making dinner, Indian Golden Curry Stew. It was warm and tasty for a blustery day. We had a few random raindrops but no storms. The wind continues to blow and as I am writing this I hear the sand hitting our tent. The wind is gusting and the big gusts actually send sand particles through the tent. We have a fine layer of sand inside. Not ideal but we are safe and warm.
After dinner I got out the satellite phone and received your message that you are safely back home. I was SO glad to get that message. No message yet from Grandpa. We are trusting that no news is good news.
Time to sleep – I’m so tired! Shawn went to bed right after dinner. Daddy and I were in our tent before 9. This day wore us out!