Friday, April 27, 2007

The Trip of a Lifetime

The Grand Canyon is just what it implies, “Grand!” For many folks their experience of one of the most visited National Parks in America is a scenic drive through the park, a short hike to one of the many viewpoints, a trip to the visitor center, dinner at the lodge and hitting a shop or two for souvenirs.

Would you trade that classic trip for one that turns your long silky hair into a muddy mess of dreadlocks? How about sleeping on the ground for weeks or taking a bath in forty-five degree water which is cold enough to give you “brain freeze”. How about never getting up early enough to beat the early risers to even one hot cup of coffee?

Sound like fun? If you said no, then you have not been on a boat through the Grand Canyon! Floating through the enormous gorge is the trip of a lifetime! The exhilaration of roaring world-class rapids turns the stomach of some and completely excites others into a wild frenzy of whooping and hollering. After successfully running a rapid, the excitement and fear fades into concern for others as the trailing vessels pass through the churning turmoil, tossed about by the enormous power of water with passengers screaming in either delight or fear. Between the violent chaos there is the placidity of still water. This is the time to soak in the intense beauty and the remarkable geology of the canyon. Magnificent towering walls held the waters course as we relaxed and enjoyed the serenity of the canyon.

On our journey we were fortunate enough to be on the river with trip-leader Monte and the most experienced group of “river rats” that one would ever imagine. We set out on this trip in early spring when the weather was unpredictable, but fortunately it was warm and prevented hypothermia from setting in as massive waves broke over the top of us, dousing us in frigid water. Each day we would pull into a sandy beach before night-fall and quickly set up camp before daylight dwindled. As soon as the boats were docked the first task was an organized process that was always accomplished in short order. From an elaborate kitchen, dishwashing table, fire pan to a concealed latrine with an incredible view of the river, everything had its place. Each of us had the opportunity to be chef during our trip and fishing lines were cast in hope of a fresh fish dinner.

The best part of the trip was after the sun had set, and chilly air drew us into a tight circle around the fire where river adventures of the past were told by gifted storytellers and seasoned river runners O.C and Jack. These men were delightful Grand Canyon veterans with white beards, soft- spoken words and jolly personalities. Images from their yarns seemed to dance in the firelight as they would spin their tales as only a master of stories can.

Around the campfire camaraderie grew as Jimmy and both Tommy’s sang to us and kept the laughter flowing. As eyelids finally grew heavy we made our way to our nightly accommodations where we laid quietly looking up at the dark sky, spilt over with brilliant stars. The magical sound of the river cradled our tired bodies to sleep each night. In the morning we always awoke to the cackling of Tommy’s laugh and the warmth of his roaring fire.

After breakfast we packed the gear back onto our fleet of seven watercrafts and began another day. We would often camp where we could see other groups run the rapids. It sent fear through the group as we watched as a man was thrown from the back of the boat, hit the oarsman on the top of the head and then bounced out of the boat and fortunately, quickly fished out of the frigid and turbulent waves of emerald green water he had fallen into. Both authors had our own close calls as well.

Prior to the stretch of river known as Deubendorff, the rapids had not been really intimidating to me, in fact, the rowers were hitting them so smooth it was like a gentle roller coaster ride. I would get wet of course, but it seemed quite safe on the big raft and in the hands of experienced rowers. Perhaps I was getting lax and not holding on tight enough, or maybe no matter how tight I held on it would not have mattered. In the end the giant wave that engulfed me won the battle. I never knew what hit me until my body was draped over the boat and my face was almost in the water. Luckily before I plunged into the depths of the Colorado River, my boat mate, Bill, pulled me back into the floor of the raft where another massive wave heaved water on top of me, leaving me gasping for air. I struggled to get back on my seat, eyes wide with fear as I noticed massive boulders jutting out of the water everywhere as we dropped into a capacious swirl of recirculating whitewater! We hit every “hole” in Deubendorff!

Having watched Tanya almost swim the notorious Deubendorff rapid, I should have had more sense than to try my hand at paddling an inflatable kayak through rough water. It seemed to me that the maneuverability of my borrowed “duckie” would be a trump card and keep me out of harms way, which was the case through the Havasu rapid and a few small riffles. The noise was deafening as I watched the 18’ raft ahead of me drop off into plumes of spray and boiling waters, indicating that the next stretch of water might be serious business for me in my tiny inflatable. They had just made it past the “standing wave” when I saw them pointing and hollering “go right”! I realized I wasn’t going to make it just before a lateral wave pounded me from the side and left me clinging to my paddle and gasping for air as I rode the rest of the savage and unforgiving water underneath my overturned kayak. I was only in the freezing water a short time before I was able to clamber back into the safety of my kayak, but the cold was shocking! Once on shore even the intense rays of the sun and dry clothes could not dim the chill that permeated throughout my body.

As exciting as it was to run the river, still there was fantastic hiking to be done through the many side canyons and towering temples, such as Dox Castle down to Shinumo Creek or up Galloway Canyon and down Stone Creek. Hiking to the desert waterfalls of Thunder River, Deer Creek, Elves Chasm, Havasu and many others are a hikers dream.

As we neared 180 miles on the river, a menacing rumble grew louder, demanding everyone’s attention. The time had come to face the most violent and savage stretch of water on the river - Lava Falls. The infamous rapid is nestled below Toroweap Overlook on the North Rim where boulders have formed enormous waves and “holes” that could gobble up even the largest craft that floats the river. Duffy’s experience showed as he led the way and served as the safety boat. Then O.C’s wooden dory plummeted into the swirling water and broke unscathed through the tempestuous torrent of commotion. One by one, each oarsman pulled into the current, adrenaline rushing through their veins, the beauty of Toroweap ignored as minds focused on the task immediately ahead. They crashed through the splashing bedlam of violence engulfing the boats. Tonight there will be chilling stories of one of the canyon’s biggest rapids and the mishaps that have occurred over the years.

It’s hard to keep track of days on the river but landmarks announce it’s time for our departure. Just two short days after Lava Falls we bid our new friends and our wonderful hosts Jack and Monte farewell as they continue on to Lake Mead. For a while we watched as the fleet slowly drifted south and we pushed our way up the rim of the canyon to our awaiting vehicle. It was a bittersweet day, but the memories will live on forever.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Highway 67 to open May 15th

Highway 67 to the North Rim of Grand Canyon will be opened to the public beginning Tuesday, May 15th at 6:00 a.m. All services provided by the National Park Service will be available at 12:00 noon. The first ranger program for the season will be offered on the back porch of the lodge at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 16th. The first evening program of the season will be held in the lodge auditorium at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, May 18th.

Hiking from the River

Heres another brief account. Hakatai Canyon was a quick jaunt on one of our non-layover days. We had set up camp early, so an afternoon walk was in order. Hakatai turned into a fairly narrow slot right off the bat and had some interesting fluted chimney upclimbs out of the pools of clear water. I was in search of Bass’s asbestos camp. After a couple solo upclimbs I came to a pile of rubble that nearly blocked the creek bottom. Not ever having seen asbestos before I just assumed that this was the spot? Took a couple photos and continued upstream a while before deciding to turn back and see what was up at camp. On the way back I encountered Duffy, Tolease and Monty working their way up. I explained that I think I had seen the asbestos mine and was headed back down. That’s when Monty asked if I had seen the archaelogic site? Once again I joined the trio to enjoy some companionship and check out the sites. As we got to the rubble blockage, Monty exclaimed that this was a very fresh “Schist” avalanche! So it wasn’t the asbestos! Onward ho…….around the corner Duffy and I startled 4 young rams as they scrambled to leave the wash. Soon we came to a wooden sign that the Park had obviously installed many years ago…It suggested no entry, asbestos hazard! He, he, he… we heed or not?! NOT! What the heck…even Bass lived to the ripe old age of 94 after spending years on this forbidden site! Those early pioneers were some TOUGH DUDES! Getting the asbestos out of that canyon alone was a superhuman feat! On the way back down Monty pointed to a ledge up high where I could find the Ancient Civilization remnants, so I did a quick scramble and checked them out. Now those Anasazi were an even TOUGHER BREED! Again back to camp for more great food and storytelling around “Cackles” perfect campfire! Of course later on the trip I had to do the requisite Tapeats Creek/ Thunder River/ Surprise Valley/ Deer Creek Up and Over and Back Down Hike. This was a casual 4 hour stroll that only 2 of us wanted to partake of. The rest of the crew ferried the 7 boats after dropping us off and relaxed at Deer Creek as they awaited our return. The trail is obviously very popular with commercial boat trips and backpackers coming from the North Rim as well. Tapeats Creek has quite a heavy flow, mostly fed by Thunder Spring, and is a very pretty canyon. Thunder River flows into Tapeats just above the upper Tapeats Campground and then its an ascent to arrive at the stunning Thunder Spring after a short three quarter mile. To me Thunder Spring is second only to Vaseys Paradise in sheer beauty! As we continue, the hike takes us up a bit further until arriving at Surprise Valley “slough”, and the casual walk until dropping steeply into Deer Creek. A quick pit stop at Deer Spring and the Throne Room, then down to the Water Cress abundant streambed below to the terrace and narrow ledge atop the ever deepening slot canyon below. Finally down the hillside to the beautiful waterfall where many private boat trips and backpackers alike had stopped to soak in the refreshing cooling spray as the water cascaded 200’ to the pool below. I was glad that I could do this hike and would recommend it to anyone planning to do their first “boat trip” thru the Grand Canyon.


Grand Canyon Colorado River Trip

On our second ‘layover day’ on the river, camp was made at the mouth of Stone Creek. I really liked layovers, but they were few so I took advantage of the opportunities to “Stretch” my legs. Tom Martins book ‘100 Hikes from the River’ had suggested a loop, I believe travelling up Stone Creek, up and over the saddle to Galloway Canyon and then the short meander back down the rivers edge to Camp at Stone Creek. I liked this idea and had planned on it! seems that Duffy and Tolease had plans of doing it the other way around and who was I to argue with experience? I joined in the walk up the river and then a quick jaunt up Galloway until Duffy pointed to the cliffband high up and on our left. He explained that he thinks this is where there is a weakness in the cliffband (90’ chimney) that will put us on the ridge separating Galloway and Stone. Up we go on the loose shale and ‘ballbearings’ to the cliffband bottom. Just around the corner, a small boulder move and here we are at the entrance to the most beautiful full body chimney I’ve ever seen! It was as though it was made to climb. Duffy started out and I waited to see if Monty and Tolease were coming? Around the corner they scrambled, so up I went. I caught Duffy about 70’ up at a restriction formed by a needle of rock jammed sideways and required a tenuous “twister move” to climb through the hole it formed with the rocks jammed above. Duffy hesitated and I stemmed wide over him and slid through the “cave”. It was so cool to play the game of Twister with one more dimension thrown in to the equation! Now it was a short 15’ of face climbing to get to the top! We all made it after 10 minutes and started the trek toward the saddle above. At the saddle the views showed the depths of each canyon on our sides, but once again as on our Shinumo Creek Hike, the real impression was the Canyon with the big river below! Downward we go into Stone Creek. I spotted what looked to be a desert oasis on the mountainside far up Stone and really wondered? My decision was made. I could watch Duffy and Monty descend to the one and only weakness that allowed access into Stone, mark it, head over the slope and several rocky washes for a mile and find out for sure then backtrack to find the steep descent into Stone later? Tolease decided that she would tag along, so off we went. It was an oasis filled with what I normally would expect to see in the tropics. The Redbuds were in full bloom and the rieds and ferns were lush. Tolease was convinced that this would be an area to search for remnants of ancient civilizations past, but I wanted to take full advantage of the layover day and headed down toward the descent. Monty had not descended yet so he and I decided to work our way up stone creek above the barrier fall that prevented most river hikers from continuing further upstream. We found the delightful waterfall that I posted earlier in the thread and each proceeded to take our first really refreshing shower of the trip. I still wasn’t satisfied with exploration, so I left Monty to await Tolease (BTW..Our guide, Duffy had headed home long ago) and I scrambled and manuevered my way up the slowly drying Stone Creek until I found its source. The water was seepage draining from between the Muav and Redwall on the right side of the drainage. Still not satisfied I continued up the rocky “Stone Creek Drainage” for another mile or so until I realized it was getting a bit late and decided to turn around and try to solo my way down the chute that bypasses the Slot Canyon that normally impedes hikers from continuing. Just downstream from the “Water Source” of Stone I ran into Monty and Tolease coming upstream. I explained that I had found the water supply, so we all meandered back up to the seepage together. Satisfied now with our adventure, the 3 of us started the trek to the chute, into Stone Creek and the casual trip back down to the river and camp….once again…just in time for dinner and stories to be told by the “best” Colorado River Storyteller of all time…. OC…. as we all gazed into “Cackles” perfect campfire.

Grand Canyon Colorado River Trip

After 4 months of preparation, the time had come. Monty and Jack had invited me numerous times to take part in one of their adventures. Always with an answer “I can’t take off that much time from work and family”, but this time was different. I had taken a couple “dead-heads” from Lees Ferry to Phantom and remember what fun it was. Very little time other than to row, set up camp, eat, sleep and start over again the next morning, but dang, what a blast it was! Tanya whom I had met 3 years previous and had done many trips with, had expressed to me in the past that she would like to float the Grand. So be-it, here we are on Saturday, March 10th working our way down South Kaibab Trail and anxious to meet the folks we would be spending the next 12 days with. At noon we crossed the bridge and saw many boats at the beach and wondered which ones our luggage was aboard. Voila! Heres Jack and his wonderful welcome aboard. The fleet included 3-18’ baggage boats, 2- 14’ “maseratis”, an absolutely beautiful natural wood Dory and an 18’ boat loaded with “Squirt Boats” and the commercial banner covered up. Hello to all! We all loaded up to shuttle 6 of the original crew a mile or so downstream to shorten their hike out. Now the party consisted of Bill from Washington, Tom his brother from Texas, Tolease from Flag’, Jack from Kanab, Monty his son (homeless!) “Cackle Tom” from Texas, Duffy and his Queen from Flag’ (Oars), Jeff from SG, Tanya, myself and the “Unforgettble” Legend, O.C.! Am I forgetting someone?! They’ll show up I’m sure. Yes the big rapids had an appeal to me, but I was there to explore every inch of property in the Grand Canyon! Well…at least see some of it anyway. The first night after an exciting run thru Horn Creek Rapid, we pulled into Trinity Creek to camp. Soon we learned the system of unloading, set-up, and all that. As the sun went down…..the STARS SHONE! WOW! Couldn’t sleep so did a 2AM headlamp up Trinity to a dryfall and then scrambled up and right until deciding that maybe it would be more enjoyable in the daylight! We got up early to the firemasters (“Cackle Tom”) entrancing morning motivation. Some coffee, breakfast, a few nasty jokes and the repack to move further downstream. This second day would take us thru some more exciting rapids and a camp at “Crystal Rapid”. We all slept well and anticipated the morning run thru Crystal. There was one BIG hole that no one wanted to hit! On down the river put us at our first “Layover” day! Yee-Haw! Hiking! We stayed on the west side of the river above Bass Rapid. Monty had expressed that he would like to hike in the morning to repeat a hike he had done many years ago. I’m Game! It would require a difficult “ferry” across the river just above the rapid so that we could access the North Bass Trail. After cardio “tug” we sat on the east side of the river and a short 4th class scramble thru the schist to gain the trail. Soon we left the trail to try to climb a ridge leading to “Dox Castle”. Monty had forgotten the route he had taken, so I scouted and made it up the ridge until an 80’ vertical face stumped me. I had noticed a possible weakness in the 500’ cliffband to the west and suggested that we give it a go. Some more scrambling and a few boulder moves landed Jeff, Monty and I on top of a plateau that I have dubbed “Tiptoe thru Cacti” Plateau. I’m quite serious! After 1/3rd mile of tiptoeing, we made the steep “balbearing” ascent to the “5.8” move to make our way to “Dox Castle”. This was downright scary! It was only 20’ high…..but, but, but! Jeff and I hoisted Monty past the Crux and he then hip belayed us up. Another “ballbearing” stumble led us to the western edge of the Dox Castle ridge. Lunch, rehydration, a few shots of of the Holy Grail Temple to the northeast and then the descent. On the way back I attempted to “cap-out” Dox Castle, but the 20’ of rope we had just didn’t give me the confidence I needed! Speaking of 20’ of rope….At the 5.8 section, 20’ allowed me to “hip lower” Jeff and Monty, but now its my turn! Downclimb 20’ of 5.8 was the highlight…at least one big adrenaline rush! We then headed north and found 2 different possibilities to descend into Shinumo Creek. Steep but reasonably casual. I arrived maybe 5 minutes before Jeff and Monty…stripped off the layers and “dunked” in an absolutely pristine hole. We then headed west down the creek past Shinumo “Bass” Camp and to the river for our awaiting boat. That is of course if I set the “nut anchors” properly! Back to camp just in time for Dinner! Yee-Haw!

Grand Canyon River Trip

Just got back tonight from 2 weeks on the River! Tanya and I joined 10 other folks at Phantom Ranch and began a SUPERB trip down the river and hiked out of Whitmore Wash this morning! Among the crew was OC Dale in his Dory and amazing campfire stories (All Lies!). Tanya had a Very, Very close call on Dubendorf, but It's best described by her! I learned about lateral waves while testing my skills in a "Duckie".....GEEZE, next time I wear a drysuit for those Dam cold Swims! Thanks Jim and Tanya for plucking my arse out of that river!


Friday, March 02, 2007

Getting Ready for a rafting trip

Jack, Monte and crew launched Wednesday and are ontheir way down the river as we speak!!!!!! I didn't envy their launchwith the weather that passed thru, but the weather is supposed to getREALLY....REALLY....nice now. Tanya and I are headed down to Bar 10Ranch next Thursday about noon to drop off my SUV and then will head toOrderville. Her family will then shuttle us to the South Rim on fridaywhere all of us will spend the night so that her family can see theSouth Rim, then they will drop Tanya and I off at Yaki Point earlySaturday morning for our hike in to meet the crew, boats and thebeginning of our adventure!!!


Monday, February 05, 2007

Packing for the River Trip

Tanya and I have all the paperwork and $ in now and have started
getting all the logistics and equipment together. I have all of our
equipment ready to start stuffing into our 6 drybags, minus the
drysuits and a couple other amenities. On the 17th The trip leader and others will come to SG,and we will do our "Costco" shopping spree.

We drive to Lees Ferry for the mandatory Park Briefing and assistance
rigging and packing boats, and introductions and hellos on the
afternoon of Feb. 27, then return home for 10 days. We then will
drive to Flagstaff on the 9th and spend the night, awaiting our
shuttle to Yaki Point for the hike to Phantom in the morning. On the
RIVER from 2PM on March 10th until March 21st or 22nd where we will
swap keys with Larry Stevens who so generously will have my vehicle
awaiting at Whitmore Wash by Bar 10.

I must sound like a "Kid at Christmas"? I am super stoked for this
and know this is a trip of a lifetime! Hope to have some tales to
tell and pictures to show !

- Bo

Jan Taylor from the Grand Canyon Yahoo Group, who is an avid river runner in the Grand Canyon has offered a great list of things to take.

Suggested Equipment for Grand Canyon Rafting
by Jan Taylor

Plan to pack only as much as can fit into one-and-a-half paper grocery bags. This is approximately the size of a standard dry bag provided by rafting outfitters unless you supply your own. Do not bring a duffel bag on the river. The dry bag will be provided either at Lees Ferry for transferring your gear or the night before at the assembly meeting, depending on how your outfitter makes the arrangements. If you have to transfer gear into a dry bag at Lees Ferry, have it ready in a doubled-up heavy duty plastic garbage bag. A day dry bag will also be provided for the things you’ll need during the day (e.g., day pack, rain gear, jacket, etc.).
- Quick dry shorts (1 or 2 depending on your personal preference) – synthetic, not cotton.
- Quick dry pants (1 or 2) – synthetic, not cotton.
- Bathing Suits (1 or 2), 2-piece for women, such as a tankini – this is helpful when bathing or for “bathroom” use.
- Long sleeve quick dry shirt for sun protection. Cotton is OK for the summer since it can be soaked for cooling and will take longer to dry. In cooler weather cotton is to be avoided because it stays cold and wet.
- Bandanas – wet down and wrap around your head/neck to keep cool in hot weather.
- Fleece jacket (not cotton) for layering under rain gear and for cool nights.
- Medium or light weight base layer (long underwear) for summer – fleece, Capilene, or Polypropylene, and a vest (for cooler weather). Expedition or medium weight base layer for winter or spring. These are to wear under rain gear, sleepwear, or in camp if it’s cold.
- Fleece pants for winter or spring, either medium or expedition weight. If the weather is colder, expedition weight is recommended. Keep in mind that GC weather can be unpredictable, even in the summer.
- River sandals (e.g., Tevas, Merrills, Chacos). Since you may be doing some hiking in the sandals, they should have good traction. Sand and water work against the effectiveness of Vel-cro. Opt for good fitting sandals with good support. Neoprene river/dive booties are a good alternative for use on the boat.
- Light weight hiking boots that you don’t mind getting wet. Make sure they are broken in ahead of time. Tennis shoes stay wet and don’t have good traction when hiking, so should be avoided.
- Light weight wicking hiking socks. Fleece socks for camp if it’s cold. Waterproof socks (e.g., SealSkinz) with warmer sock liners are good for the boat during cold weather.
- Fleece or Polypropylene gloves, especially for winter or spring. Waterproof gloves (e.g., SealSkinz) with glove liners are good for the boat during cold weather.
- Hat – large brim, quick dry material because it will get wet (not wool – absorbs too much water and takes too long to dry). This is an essential item in the summer when the temperatures can get to 1200. It should have a chin strap or clip-on retainer because the wind can be fierce. I prefer a baseball-type cap. I loop my sunglasses retainer through the back of the cap to prevent it from being blown or washed away.
- Rain gear (no plastic or ponchos) – at least a jacket for summer, jacket and pants for spring and winter. This is essential at any time of the year. Look for sealed seams, breathable material (non-breathable material is less expensive, but can be stifling in the summer), and gaskets at the neck, wrists, waist, and ankles to keep freezing water out.
- T-shirts or other loose and comfortable clothing to wear around camp or on hikes.
- Flip-flop sandals in summer to wear around camp, although this isn’t essential.

Additional Items:
- Day pack lined with a plastic garbage bag to store day use items on the boat while on river (hiking boots and socks, fanny pack or Camelback, rain gear, long sleeve shirt, etc.). Some outfitters provide an ammo box for boat use, or a day use dry bag.
- 2 locking carabiners to secure day pack or day use dry bag on the boat.
- Camera equipment – essential item. You will be taking lots of pictures. In addition to a regular camera and film, a couple of waterproof disposable cameras is a good idea to take pictures while going through rapids. It’s a good idea to have a waterproof camera bag or hardshell case (e.g., Otter Box) for the non-waterproof equipment. Digital cameras are becoming quite popular.
- Binoculars – small, waterproof is preferred.
- Water bottles or self-contained hydration system – 3 quarts recommended. I keep a Camelback in my day pack, plus a water bottle right by me secured to the boat with a strap.
- Sunglasses with retainer. It’s a good idea to bring an extra pair of sunglasses. UV protection is highly recommended.
- Sun Shower (optional) – at least 2.5 gallons for sufficient warm water. This does take up some space, so check with the outfitter to see if they recommend bringing one or not.
- Towel – small to medium pack towel.
- Moisturizing lotion, alcohol free. This is essential. The air is very dry and cracked fingers and feet are painful and not uncommon. No-Crack lotion is often used by river guides.
- Headlamp or flashlight. A headlamp is helpful because it leaves your hands free – a good thing for navigating to the river or portapotty in the middle of the night. The LED kinds are lightweight and powerful.
- Extra batteries for the headlamp/flashlight and camera. If your equipment uses only rechargeable batteries, you will need a solar battery charger. There are no electrical outlets available.
- Eye glasses/contact lenses plus lens cleaner and saline solution if needed. An extra pair of reading glasses to keep in the dry bag is a good idea.
- Biodegradable soap (for bathing and washing clothes) and shampoo/conditioner.
- Hair brush, hair clips, ponytail holders.
- Toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, nail clippers, tweezers, feminine hygiene products, Q-tips, tissues, deodorant. Bring plenty of feminine hygiene products if you are of that persuasion, plus small zip-lock bags for refuse if you need to change during a hike. EVERYTHING packed in must be packed out.
- Waterproof sunscreen and lip balm – bring plenty.
- Aloe vera gel for soothing sunburns.
- Band-Aids, New-Skin, waterproof adhesive tape, blister pads, duct tape (for large areas that need good coverage). Some of this will be available in the first aid kit on the boats, but it’s a good idea to have plenty available. Most people get raw spots on their feet when sand gets between the sandal straps and skin, so bring more Band-Aids and adhesive tape than you think you could possibly need. Band-Aids usually lift when wet, even the waterproof kind, so plenty of waterproof adhesive tape is a must.
- Medications, vitamins, insect repellent (with DEET), Sting-Eze (for instant relief from bug bites), Epi-Pen (if you have severe allergies to bug bites), glucose monitoring kit (for diabetics), and Imodium for possible diarrhea.
- Chemical hand and toe warmers.
- Light weight rope or cord for securing your tent and for a clothesline, plus clothespins.
- Book, journal, pens/pencils, river guide book..
- Travel Pillow – this is optional. Rolling up a jacket or other clothing works just as well.
- Garbage bags, Zip-lock bags, heavy duty/freezer bags.
- Pocket knife
- Inflatable fold-up or roll-up camp chair (e.g., Crazy Creek or Slumber Jack), or a small Roll-A-Chair.
- Wet wipes for quick clean-up if you object to bathing in 47o water.
- Platypus-type transparent bladders (flexible bottles) for your favorite beverages not provided by the outfitter.
- Frisbee (optional).
- Money for incidentals at Phantom Ranch or a road stop on the return trip, and gratuities for the guides ($10 per day per passenger is typical, but this is a personal choice).
- Optional – fishing gear (a fishing license is required) and musical instruments (alert the outfitter ahead of time so they can provide a waterproof bag).
- Marking pen, and masking tape – good for a variety of uses including labeling your garbage bags and making quick repairs.. Most garbage bags look alike.
- Bubbles – for fun on the river if you are so inclined. Hawaiian shirt, nail polish, tatoos.
- Colored yarn for marking your dry bags and tent bag since they all look alike.
Items Typically Provided by the Outfitter:
- Dry bags (for clothing and sleeping gear).
- Day dry bag for items to have with you during the day
- Sleeping gear (sleeping bag, padded/inflatable sleeping pad, ground cloth, sheet/liner)
- Ammo box or day use dry bag for items to have handy on the boat
- Mug, plate, and eating utensils
- Guide book – some outfitters provide this as part of the trip, others offer a book for sale.
- Tent – sometimes offered for rent, sometimes provided at no charge. This is recommended since weather can be unpredictable during the winter and spring. Monsoon season is July and August, so rain is likely. There is no place like the Grand Canyon for sleeping under the stars, though, when it isn’t raining.

-- Jan Taylor

Monday, January 29, 2007

Grand Canyon Colorado River Trip

Getting closer to time to go. We were over in Kanab yesterday getting our drybags
from Jack, so that we can get them loaded and back to Lees Ferry by
the 27th (Orientation and Mandatory PS Briefing). Jack had every book
that has been written about the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River.
He had the 1st edition of "Day Hikes", which included some of the
hikes the Park asked Tom to remove. Monte and Jack and crew will have
some great hikes that they will want to do on the upper half and then
when Tanya and I join them at Phantom Ranch on the 10th, I'm sure
they will have suggestions for the lower river, but I certainly will
want to study up on the potentials. I think Tanya may have ordered
the "3rd Edition",? and this will be good to have on hand.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Grand Canyon River Trip

Bo and I are getting ready for our river trip in the Grand Canyon - Two weeks of paradise soon!

The North Rim closed in December this year, a bit early compared to the last couple of years. It is going to be wonderful to steal a visit during the North Rim's off season, via the river.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Highway 67 to North Rim is still Open

Many think that when the Grand Canyon Lodge closes for the winter that the North Rim closes. This is not the case. Highway 67 leading to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon stays open until we get heavy snow. The last two years the road has stayed open until at least the first week in December. This is the best time to visit the park. There is no entrance fee and camping is even free!

Nampaweap Petroglyphs

The family and I went out to see the Nampaweap petroglyphs yesterday. Those were great! They were all over a broken wall of rock. We entered the Toroweap road where we usually do, off 389 near Fredonia. It was signed and easy to find. We let the kids drive so the going was slow and the road was really washboarded this trip! We started early but it was pretty late when we got to the petroglyphs.

Then we went looking for the Mt. Trumbull School House.... assuming it would be at Mt. Trumbull. I never brought any info for finding it so we drove around ----- up to Mt. Trumball -- nothing there... then drove up another 7 miles up a dirt road which had a nice viewpoint but nothing else... so back down to Mt. Trumbull. We decided the school house must be down the road toward St. George. (the valley) We found it, but by then it was just closer to drive to St. George... then all the way home to the east side of Zion.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

North Rim Grand Canyon Opens Monday

After a fire closed Highway 67, the entrance into the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the road and park is set to open up to visitors tomorrow. Employees have already made their way back into the park.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Grand Canyon North Rim - Fire Update

The fire that got away from those responsible for it that has caused the closure of the road to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is 45% contained. The price tag so far --- 4.2 Million Dollars!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

North Rim Closed due to Fire

Over 800 people are stranded at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon when they got in to visit the park during a window when Highway 67 was open. This morning people are getting out via the dirt Kaibab Forest Roads so all should be well with those folks. The fire however is only 3% contained and has cost so far 3 million dollars.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Grand Canyon North Rim

North Rim Grand Canyon Trails

If you are taking the family a fun trail for all is the Cliff Springs Trail. Start out by listening to the Grand Canyon Ranger talk on Archeology and then wander over to the trailhead that begins near where the talk is given near the Angels Window overlook. The trail is only one mile long and meanders past a prehistoric ruin that fits perfectly with the ranger talk.

Grand Canyon North Rim Hiking

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Grand Canyon North Rim - Cape Royal

Cape Royal offers one of the best views at the Grand Canyon. This is an easy hike the kids will enjoy. Its even paved so strollers and wheelchairs can go. There are some interesting interpretive signs along the trail. Combine the view from Angels Window and Cape Royal and it only adds up to a one mile hike round trip.

Cape Royal

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Grand Canyon North Rim

Point Sublime has to be one of the best views at the Grand Canyon. We tried once and got to the turnoff too late. The next week was the charm. We went in a 4WD which is suggested for this drive. Its a remote area and the road is rugged. A high clearance 2WD might make it, but I would not want to risk it in this remote area. You can actually drive right to the point! There are picnic tables up there and an out-house. Camping is allowed. Go to the Uncle Jim parking lot and take the road that heads to Point Sublime. I highly suggest this outing.

Point Sublime

North Rim Grand Canyon

Highway 67 Closure

Again the road to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon does not close until almost Christmas time. Its a dry year so far however and the road closed due to ice rather than snow.

Highway 67

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Grand Canyon North Rim

Ken Patrick Trail

The Ken Patrick Trail has some moderate ups and downs along the mostly forest hike. There are some nice views of Mt. Hayen while hiking around the rim that hugs the area it sits. Nankoweap Creek is far below. After a couple of miles of wandering through the forest the trail comes to the Cape Royal Road. If someone in the group wanted to sit and read a book and relax in the car they could pick up hikers here and make it a short little hike. If hikers want to go father, just cross the road and keep hiking to the end of the trail. (the North Kaibab Trailhead). Some other options would be to include the Uncle Jim loop during your hike. Uncle Jim by itself is 5 miles, but about a mile of that is shared with the North Kaibab Trail. I shared this hike with my hiking partner Bo Beck and 2 other hikers, Gary and Kayla.

Ken Patrick Trail

Monday, November 07, 2005

Grand Canyon North Rim

The Esplanade

As we hiked down from the Bill Hall Trail we marveled at the hoodoos far down on the Esplanade. The target for our hike was Thunder River, but we were enthralled by the sandstone. The various shaped hoodoos were all around us as we navigated through a stone path strewn with rock statues. The pot holes were perfect bowls holding yesterday's rain and a welcome site on the slickrock oven of the Esplanade. Even in the winter the sun baked down on the rock. In the summer time hiking on the Esplanade is not wise, but our November trip was delightful.

The Esplanade

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Bill Hall Trail to Thunder River

Halloween Trip:
Crazy Jug Point was so close we had to go and check it out before heading to Monument Point. The view from there is great and worth and drive into the forest (even during the deer hunt!)

We headed to Forest Road 292A and the Bill Hall Trail located on the east side of Monument Point. There were 18 cars there (I think was the total). We parked and headed slightly up hill a bit before the trail flattened. (This is a nice finish after hiking out). The Bill Hall Trail is steep and rocky, but seems to have fairly good maintence. The other option is the Thunder River Trail, but its 5 miles longer (saves a good deal of elevation and is a better choice for bad knees). Again the dirt of the trail was dry and good even after that deluge of water friday night. We passed a group that was almost out.

The trail switchbacks so its not too awful going up or down, but a pack does make it more difficult for sure. There is one short scrambling section but the rest is straight forward hiking.

It does not take very long to get down the trail and onto the Esplanade where we camped. There were lots of pot holes to filter water from on the Esplanade and we took advantage of a couple of them. We found a great camp that suited us both. I was tucked in the hoodoos where I wanted to be, and Bo was on the other side of a hoodoo in the wide open flat area where he likes to be. It was a great campsite. We almost camped at Surprise Valley but we were glad we chose the Esplanade.

We had lots of day light left to set up camp and explore a bit before dark. The weather was great and never rained again. We had little wind and the days and nights were warm with the mornings being a bit chilly.

Sunday we headed out to Thunder River. We hiked down to Surprise Valley, really glad we did not decided to camp there since it would be a pain to carry a pack out of there. The trail is again quite steep, much like the Bill Hall Trail to the Esplanade, but no where as much of an effort. You know Bo though he still carried a good sized pack for the day hiking. Surprise Valley is pretty barren and a desert scape of cactus and flatter lands. It would not be pretty camping but there are lots of soft, flat spots. Its nice hiking there so you can get some speed going on this part.

The drop into Thunder River is again steep. Its no where near as long of a descent as into Surprise Valley from the Esplanade or to the Esplanade from Monument Point, but its a respectable descent.

About Mid-way down the Trail Thunder Springs is visible. It's magnificent and the trail goes right to the spring, and along side much of it. You are able to get to the spring to filter water, which we did.

This is where we made a rash decision. It was so early in the day that we decided to not go to Thunder River and Tapeats Creek and head to Deer Creek all in one day so we could go and hike another day hike on the rim and see Point Imperial and Timp Point.

Don't do this in the winter! The days are too short.

It took about an hour to filter water and I took a lot of shots. We had lunch and headed out to Deer Creek. We quickly made it out and into Surprise Valley - really rushing --- but its a long way.

We got to the rocks right above Deer Springs where we could hear the water. We tried to figure out about what time it was and calculate how long it would take to safely get to the Colorado River and back to camp. We decided it was not a safe thing to try and wished we spent the time enjoying Tapeats instead. We were not sure of the time since it was Arizona, Daylight Savings Time and our GPS was off 2 hours one way or the other before all that. The sun told us however it was time to head back.

We got back up to the Esplanade with plenty of daylight. We did a LOT of elevation change that day! We decided that we just did not want to do the same path we had just did so we would hike out in the morning and do the options we wanted to do just as if we had done Deer Springs all the way.

The hike out of the Esplande is wonderful and gorgeous. Once leaving the sandstone the trail gets steep, which is not the funnest with a pack but it switchbacks and is very doable.

We had lots of day light left so we headed over to Timp Point. This view point is outstanding and probably better than Crazy Jug. It's about .75 mile round trip out to the view area.

Then we drove around the forest roads looking for the way to highway 67, with Point Superior in mind. We got there and the sign said 16-18? miles on the dirt road. We might make it before dark but decided not to risk the gas situation. We had done a lot of driving in the forest and the gas gage was on low.

We headed to the VC area instead and walked around and looked at the smoggy view. The view was clear when we were down in the canyon, but even this time of year we had smoggy views the entire time from the rim.

A longer day Thunder River and Deer Creek are doable in a day or if you camp at Surprise Valley it would be a okay for a day trip, but still hard and rushed. I suggest doing the full-meal-deal instead. Go to Thunder River and Tapeats Creek and relax. Don't get too greedy like I did.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Thunder River Trip planned

Its been a hectic year and although I usually get to spend a great deal of time in the Grand Canyon my time was spread too thin this year. However we are set for a four day backpack in the Grand Canyon to Thunder River spending some time exploring.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

North Rim Grand Canyon opening date change

The North Rim will not open until May 16th this year due to the high levels of snow. The road will not be cleared in time.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Bo checking out of the dry fall obstacles in South Canyon.

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

March now, it seems so long before the North Rim will open up for hiking. We have a trip in the works for Thunder River before the roads open to the North Rim, so hopefully that will ease the wait.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Colorado River at Vasey's Paradise

South Canyon to Vasey's Paradise

First task is to find the elusive South Canyon trailhead. From Fredonia: Drive highway 89A, bypassing the turnoff on highway 67 to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Turn right between mile posts 559 and 560. This is House Rock Buffalo Ranch Road. Continue on the dirt road for about 20 miles then turn left onto Road #632. After another mile and half turn right. The road is usually passable with a 2WD, but after rains or snow the road can become difficult even with a 4WD. The last 2 miles are the worst.

There were 4 of us in our party. My usual hiking partner and best friend Bo, and two others we had met on the net; Doc and his son Pepe. We walked (Bo of course ran) to the edge of the canyon and peered over the side. Our trip was the last weekend in January 2005 and we were set for a three day backpack to the Colorado River. The air was brisk and the forcast was for rain and cold, but I felt comfortable in my warm hi-tech attire and there were no complaints from anyone.

Bo led the way as usual, always setting a good pace and providing excellent route finding for the rest of the group. Doc and Pepe preferred to hike slower and stayed behind us following our footsteps and taking a lot of photo breaks. The initial scramble down into South Canyon was not as bad as I expected. I was afraid we would be in for the loose terrain we found on the Lava Falls Trail in Toroweap. We started down the chimney and in less than an hour we were on the canyon floor. The start of the hike was uneventful and sprouted comments like ... "there must be better views ahead."

That there was! We were lucky enough to hike South Canyon when the water was flowing and the gentle, clear stream running over the bedrock was wonderful. We passed many waterfalls, large and small. I loved the nature-made artistic fountains that would have cost a fortune to have in our yards. Our trip in was relaxed, stopping often to take photos, to have lunch and to just enjoy the scenery and laugh.

Closer to the river, there was relentless boulder hopping, as we went down in elevation. The hike down is without a doubt the easy part of this adventure! Beware, what you go down you must go back up!

Before long you will hear the loud roar of the Colorado River. Where South Canyon meets the Colorado is a set of rapids, so its noisy. Soon you will get your first peek of the river. Follow the cairns and the beaten path and you will drop down onto a sandy beach. Note there is quite a bit of bouldering and narrow paths on this hike so carry as little as possible. Continue to the next beach where you can set up camp. (Although its noisy at this camp due to the rapids)

The second day we set out hiking. To find the trail to Stanton's Cave, climb up the rock fall at the back of the campground. We set out along the river and due to the high water level it was a scary and dangerous scramble in some spots. (According to 3 of us! Bo was happy to dance around it. Never go hiking with a rock climber if you dont want to go scarey places! ~laughing~) Doc and Pepe chose to stay at camp and rest after looking at the trail we chose and they were exhausted from the hike in. Bo and I set out to find Vasey's Paradise, a wonderful set of waterfalls roaring out of the side of the mountain. Also visit Stanton’s Cave (a natural cave), the nearby smaller man-made cave with bolts and wires in front where a dam was set to be built at one time, and further down river (on the other side of the river) is the Redwall Cavern.

Before dark Bo ran (along that slippery slope) down to Vasey's to get some fresh spring water, filtered it and brought back plenty for the night and the trip back.

The rain chased us into the tents at dark even though we did not want to go yet. It turned out to be good, at least for me because I slept until I was handed a hot cup of postum in the morning. Still groggy after a good night sleep (rare for me in such a place) I spilled it on my bag and pad. Bummer.. but with all the other wet gear from the rain it just sort of blended in and was not so bad.

We set out at 10am to head back to the vehicles. We followed the same path we took to come on. The uphill climb was steady the whole way and quite an invigorating hike. Bo filtered a little more water from the stream and put everyone's heavy stuff in his pack before heading up to the rim. (He likes to carry rocks uphill! Don't feel too sorry for him) The last push out to the top of the rim was tough, but nothing like I thought. (Again thinking of Lava Falls!) We were at the top after only a couple of very brief rests. It took us 5 hours for the hike out (from campground to the rim) with a stop for lunch included. I might become a hiker yet!

Thanks guys for the trip! It was a blast!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Wave at Coyote Buttes - Paria

The hike to the wave was one of the most scenic hikes I have been on when it comes to rock formations. There was a hint of domes and hooodoos on the Canaan mountain hike which was outstanding, but the Coyote Butte surpassed it. The wave had everything. A good uphill trek, fun pools of water, a little slot area, an arch we hiked to and even a grotto piled with white sand. The online permits were booked so we took a chance and showed up at the BLM office in Kanab at 9am when they give out permits for the next day. We were in luck. With permits in hand we headed to the wave. The turnoff is an unmarked area between Kanab and Page. The dirt road is a fun one with hard dirt and no washboard. There is a restroom at the trail head, but not much more. There are 2 sign in places where you are suppose to sign that you started and that you returned. The start of the hike is uphill, a steady nice uphill climb that gets the blood pumping. Soon the scenery becomes impressive and the climb levels out. The hike to the wave itself is only 2.88 miles. We spent time playing around the wave, taking pictures and exploring. There were 4 of us on the trip: My best friend Bo and my good friends Dean and Becky. We each took a corner and went off exploring and taking photos. I got some great shots across the wave of everyone. We had lunch here and headed off to find the arch. As we hiked up the slickrock we could see the arch far in the distance. The trek up the rock is steep, but its not too far. We came in on the back side of the arch where we could see South Coyote Butte from the distance. The arch was fun and we stopped for a break there before heading to the grotto. The grotto, which few find, was the highlight of the hike. We all enjoyed it there and the geology was magnificent. On the route back we went through a slot, finding dead cattle and bones and climbed up the side of the mountains we had passed on the way in. This is a fun and easy hike and a great way to spend a day.

"The Wave" at Coyote Buttes