Floating with My Head Underwater… Rafting Through the Grand Canyon

Beautiful views like this along the Colorado River would have been lost if efforts in the 50s and 60s to dam the Grand Canyon had succeeded.

I will feature two major sites in our journey down the Colorado River on my post today: the Anasazi Granaries at Nankoweap and the Little Colorado River. Then, unfortunately, I will have to put the trip through the Grand Canyon on hold.

Peggy and I leave our home in Southern Oregon on Sunday for a 32-day repositioning cruise on the Mediterranean plus visits with various family members. We won’t be back until January. My already organized wife tells me I have to get ready. That translates into, “You’ve run out of time, Curt.”

On Friday I plan to post photos featuring our property on the Applegate River. (It’s beautiful this time of the year.) On Sunday I will begin a series on another adventure: my two years of serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa. The Africa posts are already written and scheduled to go up every other day for the time I am gone. When I return my intention is to publish them as a digital book.

Meanwhile I will be gathering materials for numerous posts on the Mediterranean. But back to the Grand Canyon…

Steve Van Dore and Jamie Wilson serve as our boatmen for the two days we are on the river travelling from our camp at Redbud Alcove (mile 39) to our camp at Upper Rattlesnake (mile 74).

Steve, I’ve already introduced. Like Tom, he is an experienced Colorado River Boatman and loves the Canyon. He is also a specialist. His catamaran is outfitted with groovers: large ammo cans that have been modified to serve as portable potties.  Before toilet seats were added as a convenience, you sat on the rim of the can. It left grooves in your butt… hence the name.

We are all given training in setting up, taking down, and using the groovers. One of the first chores in arriving camp is to find the perfect place for the port-a-pot: a secluded location with a view. One time I found myself sitting on the pot and waving at rafters as they went by. The site received an A for the view and a C for the seclusion.

Steve is very knowledgeable about the Grand Canyon and readily shares his knowledge. Almost immediately he points out a site that was once proposed for a dam that would have covered much of the upper Canyon’s beautiful scenery, geological wonders and archeological treasures with water.

A similar effort was planned for downstream. Fortunately, the Sierra Club was able to stop the dams from being built. Otherwise, one of the World’s greatest natural wonders would have been lost.

A view of the Grand Canyon along the Colorado River between Redbud Alcove and Nankoweap.

When we arrive at Nankoweap (mile 53), Steve points out the granaries used by the Anasazi Indians somewhere between 1000 and 1150 CE (Common Era) or AD, if you prefer. The granaries are located high up on the cliff for protection from animals and insects. I think they are well protected from me as well. Tom has scheduled a hike up, however; I willingly go along.  I am curious about the granaries and think there will be spectacular views.

The granary is interesting and the views great. The climb is definitely worth it.

Our intrepid group hikes up the steep trail to the Granaries at Nankoweap in the Grand Canyon.

The Nankoweap Granaries built by the Anasazi Indians between 1000 and 1150 CE.

A view looking down the Colorado River from the Nankoweap Granaries in Grand Canyon National Park.

Jamie Wilson is our Boatman on the fifth day. He’s a delight. First of all he is funny and positive. Second, whenever a chore needs to be done, he is first in line. Finally, he is incredibly strong, which is a valuable asset when you get in a tight spot on the river. Jamie has his own business as a contractor in the Woodland/Davis area of California.

When we arrive at the Little Colorado River, it is time to play. The Little Colorado has two colors. First is a muddy reddish-brown. The River drains over 25,000 square miles. When it rains upriver, it carries tons of red topsoil.  The second color is a beautiful turquoise blue. When it doesn’t rain, much of the water comes from springs and is loaded with minerals that provide the turquoise color and very interesting deposits.

Looking up the Little Colorado River just above where if flows into the Colorado River. Note the unique water color and mineral deposits.

Another view along the Little Colorado River.

We hike upriver and don our life vests upside down over our legs.  It looks like we have put on huge diapers. We are going to float down the river. At first I carry out my photographer responsibilities but then I too don my diaper and jump in. Just as I go over a small waterfall my life vest slips down to my feet. My feet float fine but my head bobs along under the water.

Peggy models the life vest diaper look.

Hanging on to each other, our group forms a Conga Line Little Colorado River style and makes its way through the rapids.

As my life vest slipped up around my feet, my head dipped under the water.

I will close this post with an appropriate view of the sun setting on the Colorado River as I temporarily leave the Grand Canyon for my trip to Europe. I will return to finish writing about the journey in 2013. (Photo by Don Green)

 

10 comments on “Floating with My Head Underwater… Rafting Through the Grand Canyon

  1. Can’t believe you were able to concentrate on publishing this during the election results last night! Who said you cannot multitask? Enjoyed as always! Just a reminder that we did rescue you right after the photo of your head disappearing as you were flipped upside down in the rapids. I think I almost threw the camera in the water at that point!

  2. Loving these adventure posts.. You sure do have some amazing trips and tell Peggy she looks quite dapper in that diaper 🙂
    Beautiful shots as always!!!

    • Thanks FeyGirl… I am really sorry I have to leave the Canyon trip for a while as Peggy and I head off for Europe… Well, not too sorry. Internet is available on the Cruise Boat but I am not sure about time. Anyway, I have already scheduled stories about my experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Lots of humor and adventure… but not many photos. As I recall, I was carrying a Kodak Instamatic (sp) at the time.

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