Saturday, October 18, 2014

Six Word Saturday

Finally!  Photos of the Grand Canyon!

I'm cheating!  I know!  I'm about to write a lot of words.  But I have some photos collected from my trip and I have a little time.

SO!  An old friend of my husband's got a long-awaited and wished-for private permit for a river trip on the Grand Canyon.  If you have money to spend on it, you can go down the Grand Canton any time, as part of a commercial trip.  However, if you are on a budget and want to go down  on your own, you apply for the annual permit lottery and pray to be chosen.  Chuck and I had been applying for years without being picked; so when Bert Adams got a permit, we were so, so excited to be asked to join him as two of the 15 people he is allowed to invite.  Chuck is an experienced boatman who has been down the Grand Canyon three times before.  I am good at cooking for a crowd and organizing food.  So Boatman and Quartermaster Brainerd were part of the adventure. I won't waste valuable verbiage today on describing what it is like to plan, shop for, pre-prep, store, organize and run a camp kitchen for 16 people for 20 days. Especially when one of those people is allergic to soy, wheat and lactose.  Oy... Suffice to say that I am enjoying grocery shopping with just one cart.  I'm getting over my Post Traumatic Shopping Syndrome. And I now have enough river karma that I should not have to do a job that big again for a looooong time!    It was successful though.  I should write a cook book.  Maybe I will...

In the meantime...

Here I am rowing Chuck's boat. Check out the umbrella Chuck installed to keep the sun off his white little wife. I started off rowing just flat water; then little riffles; then worked my way up to medium sized rapids.  When it was time to row the big stuff, though I handed the oars back to Chuck.

Rigging was a big part of our day , especially at the beginning of the trip.  Everything needs a place and has to be tied down.  After a while, it got easier; but in the beginning, we spent a lot of time fussing over rigging.
Lunch break

Lounging in camp after a long day of rowing

We got lucky with music on this trip.  Two guitars, a mandolin and people who are really good at playing them.  We had some good singalongs.
Tom, the "doctor", bandaging yet another pair of feet
These aren't my feet:  they belong to my friend Stefanie.  The most typical injury on the trip were with people who wore water shoes that didn't flush out very well.  The sand would stay in there and scour the bottoms of their feet and make open areas.  Four or five people had a lot of foot trouble.  Other than that, no real injuries.  Chuck was stung by a scorpion;and three of us were stung by Harvester ants.  Nothing more.

This is breakfast.  My kitchen was made up of three tables and a tarp to catch food scraps as they fell.  I had a military surplus medical supply box as a kitchen.
Great star and moon watching

So, when we weren't rowing down the river, we did a lot of side hiking.
Dry canyoneering

I learned some skills!

And wet canyoneering... slot canyons with leftover rainwater pools

Havasu Creek

There were a lot of things to see along the way as well.  This cave, Red Wall Canyon, is big enough that you could hold a concert in it.  We were satisfied just to jump around in it.

Sometimes, the Little Colorado River is clear and blue when it runs into the silty water of the Colorado.  But, if there have been any storms in its drainage, the water is thick with sediment.  That how we found it, so we got naked and played in the mud.  After a while, you stop noticing people's nakedness.  In this kind of situation, you can't pee in private too well; everyone knows who has gone to visit the poop can; mostly, people just sleep flopped out on the ground.  Not much privacy.

It's hard to bathe.  In the early days, when the water has less sediment, it's not hard to fill a solar heating bag and make a warm shower at the end of that day.  But as the river travels farther into the canyon, it picks up more and more silt.  To bathe in silty water, it first has to be settled in a bucket overnight, THEN warmed in the solar bag.  After a while, it just started to seem like too much trouble.  Here are Chuck's shorts, standing up on their own.
On the eighth day, the river passes Phantom Ranch.  This is the spot people hike to when they are venturing down from the rims in Grand Canyon National Park.  They can walk or ride mules,and there are cabins there for overnight accommodation.  It is a really strange thing to encounter when you have been off on your own for eight days; and plan to go off on your own again for another twelve days. There is a little shop there.  You can get lemonade, check the weather forecast, buy Band Aids.  I bought myself some Oreos and wrote postcards, because they are marked with a special stamp:  "Carried by mule from the bottom of the Grand Canyon".  Look how brown my shirt is.  It was white when it was new...
With Stefanie in the rain
We had a rainy day.  Another reason to love Chuck's umbrella.
So, rowing in the rain is not a lot of fun.  BUT!  Check out the water falls!  I found out later that there were torrential rains in Utah and Arizona, sending flash floods crashing down the Colorado Plateau and into the Grand Canyon. 

Here's my helicopter.  I had to leave the trip at Day 15, because my boss freaked out at the idea of me taking three weeks off.  There is a place called Whitmore Wash from which you can be picked up, so I arranged the helicopter ride out to a ranch on the north rim, then a light plane to Las Vegas.  I was not happy to leave early.  It was my first ever helicopter ride, though.


  1. Canoeing down the Grand Canyon looks amazing! I will have to do that next time I am there!

  2. WHAT an experience, Kate! Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Flipping 'eck I love these pictures. You have made my week seem so dull.
    On the plus side, I love the jump picture and the shorts picture, and every single picture of the Grand Canyon.
    A helicopter hey. I'm impressed.
    For the benefit of not sounding too dull, can I just add I once took a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon.