Sunday, July 21, 2013

The other side of erosion

The following was written and images captured by a college chum from OSU  They truly show the other side of erosion.

OK, where do I start.  This may be more info than you want, but I'll try to give you a feeling for my experience.

This was my 4th trip to the Grand Canyon.  The 3 previous trips were to the South Rim & North Rim Visitor Centers,... what the typical Canyon visitor sees.  Each of those times was great in it's own way.  I saw sights that were amazing and learned about the Canyons on each visit, BUT, you really can't say you've seen the Grand Canyon until you go down the river.  The size, scale and beauty can't be appreciated from the Rims.  One only gets a true feeling for it on the River.  And the River.  Wow!  It didn't get named 'The Mighty Colorado' for nothing.  You can see and feel the power as it moves you down the Canyon.

We started out at Lee's Ferry just below the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell.  The 1st surprise was the water temp.  Keep in mind we are in the middle of a desert in Arizona, air temps were often in the 100's, but the water was at 42 degrees.  (PS - Glad I'm not there this week with the record temps they are getting.)  For comparison, most refrigerator water is at 42 degrees.  It was actually painful to keep a part of your body in the water for any length of time.  It did gradually warm up and we could take quick baths as the days went on.

The Outfitter we used has what is called 'J' Rig rafts.  They are essentially old Navy inflatable pontoons strapped together.
 They allow a wide variety of rides.  The adventurous or thrill seeker can ride up front, and the more cautious can ride further back in a more comfortable and safer position.  They accommodate all ages, teenagers up to an 82 year-old on our raft.

We traveled 188 miles on the river over the 7 days I was there.  188 Miles! And we never left the Canyons,  In fact, there is somewhere around 80 miles of Canyon below where we 'took out',... and if Lake Power wasn't dammed up, there would be another 130 miles above where we started.  Hard to fathom.  

Every day we went through several Rapids, some in the lower category 2, 3 or 4's.  Later days we got into 8, 9 & 10's.  (The Grand Canyon uses a scale of 1 to 10).  In my 7 days we went through what they consider 11 major rapids, and numerous minor rapids.  Great Fun!  (If you like that sort of thing, which I do.)  

We also had hikes available every day.  Most to wonderful views, hidden waterfalls, tranquil pools, oasis's or other scenic sites.  One site I will always remember is coming up on the Little Colorado River, where it runs into the Colorado.  It is the most Azure Blue water I've ever seen.  Really much bluer than anything in the Caribbean.  (Minerals in the water give it a Blue that is almost too Blue to be real.)  

And the nights....  I have only seen stars and a moon like that back in the 70's when I was in the Navy and a thousand miles from anything.  

The combination of drifting down calm waters under the shadows of towering rock walls, the exhilaration and thrill of rolling waves and crashing whitewater, hikes to seldom seen sites, and gazing up at star-studded skies, while winding through brilliant red canyons made this trip a 'once in a lifetime' event for me. 

Pictures don't do any of this justice,... they just don't capture the size, color or distance,... but I'll attach a few anyhow.

  Tremendous experience.  Check 1 off my bucket list.  Sorry for the rambling on.