Running the Rapids ... the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon - in a Wooden Dory
A gift to myself on my 70th birthday.
Lacking experience in 'white water,' I was scared to death ... however my life-long curiosity was in charge. I wanted 'down there' to see it up close and to paint what I saw. I conquered those fears--and that river. It was an experience of a lifetime.
"However, Horn Creek rapid was the most stunning. Riding in front I took the full force of a huge breaking wave, straight on, way above my head. I did NOT lose my hand holds but my body was pushed back and up out of the boat, into the air, riding the crashing water. But I didn't have time to think about it when I got my feet back down, as the dory was dangerously full of water--fortunately the three of us were fast balers.
"In the one brief quiet moment today between two horrendous rapids, our flute player brought out his soprano recorder and played a haunting melody. The music notes wafted across the river, the canyon walls playing music for themselves, as the reverberations filled and refilled this deep, beautiful Granite Gorge.
"Across the afternoon we did a long rapid series named the "Jewels' beginning with Crystal Creek Rapid--one of the most challenging--rated a 7-10 (10 being the most challenging white water anywhere and the range means it is always at least a 7 but can range up to a 10. The river is different every day ... so one never really knows what lies ahead). After we got all the way through, Chris (the rower) sang, "Of isn't it a lovely day, an ABC day!" An ABC day? we asked. "Yes--Alive Below Crystal!" However I believe it was on Crystal that one of the other rowers was thrown from his dory...catching hold of the end of one oar and riding through the rest of the rapid before he could climb aboard. A real scare.
"I felt a tinge of that old fear this morning--waiting for departure on Day 2 of this specially challenging Gorge and its rapids. But tonight I feel fearless . . . even knowing bigger ones lie ahead."
"As we left Mile 122 campsite this morning I hadn't checked about the river ahead--and the night had been a rather quiet one without the night-long crashing rapids behind and before us we'd had for so many nights. But when we rounded the first corner that engine ROAR came racing upriver. Rapids!"We ran three huge rapids that took all morning--as each had to be surveyed by the rowers. After the rower's survey, at the famous shallow 'Bed Rock' rapid all of us were asked to walk around (over the rocks). The river there is technically challenging--walls everywhere and (and a huge standing rock)--with strong rapid currents rushing directly at it all--face on. "So we got to watch the rowers come through one by one alone, which was terrifying. We were re-boarded quickly and pushed off toward the rest (lower portion) of this infamous rapid. Again, a huge wall on the right--a wall that could not be walked around."At about noon we arrived, exhausted, at Stone Creek campsite after a day of huge rapids...and they had decided we would layover for a day of rest."
Diamond Creek, Take Out Point, Mile 225.9Just around the bend in the photo.