First Grand Canyon Trip - June 1985

Nankoweap to Trinity Creek

day 6
12 June - Wednesday - above Nankoweap to Tanner Canyon (mile 68.4)

Looks like we have porkchops and fish for breakfast too.

Anasazi Granaries
Anasazi granaries above Nankoweap

We did the long hike up to the Anasazi granaries shortly after we pushed off this morning. Had lunch at Malagosa Canyon. This afternoon, we pulled into the mouth of the Little Colorado, the water was a barely believable swimming pool blue. I rowed up the river about a half a mile as far as I could go, to the first little drop and moored the scow. Daniel says it has the quality of those fake Hawaiian or Caribbean postcards. The mud deposits on the bottom were white, but turquoise! We floated in the water for about an hour. It was considerably warmer than the Colorado.

Then eddy fighting down to our campsite. We will again eat in the dark. Tomorrow we will have real rapids. It will be a definite big water day - Hance will probably see Rebecca walking around it. I hope things go well. The trip is superb so far.

day 7
13 June - Thursday - Tanner Canyon to above Grapevine (mile 81.5)

Got to bed early last night. Charley and Jerry were up first taking care of dishes, various organizing and packing matters. The water appears to have come up a bit overnight.

We have come to what Powell, in his exploratory trip, called the Grand Canyon of the Colorado and it is quite a bit wider than the Marble Canyon that we have traversed. The old Tanner trail comes down from the south rim here along the east Kaibab monocline to the river. We can see the Desert View Watchtower perched on the south rim's edge. Last night it was lit up like a light house beacon.

Confluence of Little Colorado
Downstream view confluence
of the Little Colorado

Warm winds and breezes from downstream woke us at dawn - puffy clouds blown in from the south. I found a couple more pinhole leaks in the boat yesterday and marked them for future repair. We will make under 20 miles today so as to be at Phantom Ranch tomorrow shortly after noon where we pick up a new passenger, a friend of Charley's named Ken.

That afternoon, we land at a lovely and sizable, for the Granite Gorge, sandy shelf beach with a broad shoreline and nice depth shaded by a mammoth black granite uplift shot through with steaks of red and silver color. A passing baloney boat tells us that the flow will be up tonight by about 5,000 cfs. We make preparations to move the kitchen back and up just in case that happens. I note that the river seems to be slightly dropping in the hour that we've been here.

Generally speaking, we had good runs today. When we scouted Unkar (on the right) we saw the remains of rock foundation walls, maybe Anasazi houses and a few pottery shards were in the ruins. The Anasazi were said to be pretty comfortable at Unkar Creek as there was a lot of evidence of their continued occupation there. Maybe they were just shoddy builders. We ran down the center of Unkar after shipping some wave action at the top.

At Nevill's rapid, I did an 80 degree side tilt and we all thought flip. Finding myself right side up, I regained the oars, Daniel washed back in the boat and Rebecca bailed.

Scouting Hance rapid
Going to school at Hance rapid

After that little adventure, we scouted Hance. Our run through Hance was perfect. I shouted with glee as we executed each pull properly. It was quite satisfying to make the right moves here. We had gone to school on more than several boats, however. OARS and the Idaho people were at Hance too. One of the OARS guides said of the Idaho group that they were strung out all over the river, part of them were in front of us and the rest of them some distance behind. He said that the group appeared to be torn by factions, that there was no agreed upon leader at any one time. They had the lack of good sense to shout a request to OARS for a list of various kinds of help. That must be somewhat awkward at best.

Our run through Sockdologer was okay but not as crisp. We took on water via a side curler that almost filled the Shoshone at the top of the rapid. Rebecca bailed like a fiend as we blew on through. No finesse here. We thought that we had lost a few items forever but at Grapevine she spotted a bailer minus its wire handle, drifting submerged just beneath the surface. We are still at a full complement in the bucket department at least.

We got about three drops of rain apiece this afternoon as a shower unloaded high above us. What's that stuff called when it barely reaches the ground? Virga. The evening was full. We drank and played music until late and later. Lamb curry was begun at dusk, we ate two hours later.

day 8
14 June - Friday - Grapevine, pause at Phantom Ranch, and on to Trinity Creek (mile 91.5)

This morning was great. Fred's watercolor was quite nice. We left camp and noticed that indeed the water was rising. The spot where we had first put the kitchen was being washed by waves as we left the beach to float down to Clear Creek. We stopped there to do another side hike. A rough climb over fragmented schist and black granite led us up from the river, up the twisty canyon, to some waterfalls where we enjoyed ourselves in another paradise-like setting. Life is good.

I had a good run at Grapevine before we got to Phantom, and a great run at Horn Creek shortly after we left Phantom. It was almost a class V scout - we caught an eddy too far upstream to climb up enough to scout Horn Creek - sheer walls. I mentioned to Ron that the next eddy looked large enough to hold some of us and, in fact, it let all four of us fit in. The scout did not require heroics and things were more straight forward as far as a look-see.

The hardest pull of the trip so far was mistakenly landing left at Trinity Creek and then pulling across the current to catch an upstream eddy on the right wall to make camp. Fred, Ron and myself were bushed. Once in the eddy though, we were able to land.

But I must mention Phantom Ranch. We all mailed postcards at the Phantom Ranch post office. And we took on a new passenger who will certainly feel weird facing a group that has accrued so much in common experience. His name is Ken Matusow and he works in artificial intelligence in the computer world. He has traveled as a tourist through murderous and coup struck Africa and he is fond of Pygmies. And we found out about David and the extent of his wounds.

David is recouping in Occidental with (a) broken ribs, (b) a fractured ankle, (c) a broken finger, and (d) no internal injuries. Lots of scabs though. He stayed overnight in a Flagstaff hospital and then caught an airplane to Oakland next day.

On the bulletin board at the landing at Phantom Ranch was posted this information -

flow increased at Lake Powell Dam.
37,000 cfs - June 12
39,000 cfs - June 13
45,000 cfs - June 15
Hot weather brings snow melt and they don't want the screw up that happened two springs ago. Water is said to have (did this really happen?) cascaded over the top of Hoover Dam and obliterated the football sized lawn positioned down below at the lowest part of the dam face.

We were hanging out in front of the bulletin board when a mule train came over the bridge and started up the trail up to the Ranch. The lead mule shied and stood on his hind legs right in my face and I got a little hot over it. I feel real protective about Rebecca.

About our latest camp. Trinity is a beautiful canyon according to Daniel and Fred. It narrows down to eight feet across, has tight 45 and 90 degree twists and turns, and dead ends in what must be a 200 foot cataract when Trinity has water. This evening's repast was Mexican casserole, we got to use up the leftover steak.

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© 1996 Michael Dooley