Friday, November 21, 2014

Saying Goodbye To the Canyon

October 1, 2014 – This was our last morning in the Canyon. We woke with mixed feelings. We were all eager for the things of ‘civilization’ – a shower, a bed, a toilet! But, we knew that it was going to be hard to say goodbye.


A quick breakfast….then we were dressed, packed, and ready to go.


One last look back into the canyon……..we took a moment to note the significance. Our journey was almost over.


Sarah and Jason pose for a farewell picture beside the motor boat which would be taking us the remaining 40 miles on Lake Meade to Pearce Ferry, our pick up point.


We loaded up - jackets on to combat the chill of the wind, as the boat would be moving fast!


It was fun! But, as the river whizzed by, I was glad that we had been traveling for most of our trip at the nice, slow pace of the rafts.


At Pearce Ferry, we were met by the guides who had left the evening before to ferry the rafts to the take out point. Our gear was unloaded and we found our bags and repacked our personal gear into our truck, which had been shuttled down from our start at Lees Ferry. It was hard to believe that this trip, that was a year in the planning was over……After 15 days on the river, all we could think about was how we would do it again in a heartbeat!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Colorado River and the Canyon–

I have written about our rafting trip….about camp life, about the rapids, about some of the points of interest along the way, and all about our hiking. But there was so much more than good food, exhilarating white water and challenging hikes. Much of our time was spent quietly drifting down the Colorado….just soaking up the Canyon.


The solitude of the Canyon calls us to quiet our mind…….


To ponder and to reflect…….


To look inside ourselves….and to look around. ….to see our lives reflected, as the river reflects the sky and the canyon walls.


There is something about the Grand Canyon which speaks to us……


It speaks of timelessness and age…..Unfathomably old (the oldest exposed rocks date back 2.5 billion years!),  the Grand Canyon exposes us to an element  that our minds struggle to comprehend. We can’t help but note that the existence of mankind on earth would only amount to a minute in the lifetime of this rock.


Many things have come and gone, and the rock which now lies exposed bore witness to it all.


The Canyon speaks to us of patience and persistence - in the slow steady force of water running over rock and the gradual uplift of the earth -  that created this canyon.


It speaks of power -  whether the force of water in a flash flood which hurls massive boulders down the side canyons and forever alters the landscape, or the just the steady abrasion of the sand that cuts the river channel as it is carried along in the water.

It speaks of the forces at work in nature, and, perhaps, in our own lives.


The layers of rock that are deposited over time in the cycles of ocean and desert…….


The uplifts and upheavals……..


Molten rock (the pink granite) extruded under pressure into the cracks and crevices in the more ancient (black schist) rock layers …….


The occasional volcanic eruption that flowed lava down the side of the canyon and blocked the river’s path……..until, inevitably, the river found a way around and cut a new channel. Life flowing on……


It speaks to us of travels and journeys, of exploration and adventure.……not only of those who have rafted and explored the Canyon….but of all journeys and all rivers that have carried us.


The Colorado tumbles over rapids.…..


And it widens out to quiet pools……….

It is said that you never see the same river twice….meaning that the water that comprises the river at any one spot has flowed on and is renewed and replaced with new water. Underneath, the river bed, the rock, and the river bank are constantly being changed by the water that flows over it.


Spending time in the Canyon gives us perspective……and calls us to question. Are we insignificant because we are but a tiny part of this great creation? Or are we infinitely significant because we participate in this life and, in doing so, we help to shape the world……


In the canyon, we become one with the river, the rocks, the sunrises and the sunsets ……. with eternity.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day 14 (Last Day)–Travertine Basin Hike “The Grotto”

Note- Fred helped write this blog and gives his perspective……

“The Grotto” was going to be our last hike in the canyon and our trip leader, Matt, really wanted to do this one because it was a spectacular spot to see.  The problem was that we had a lot of miles to cover and not much time.  We absolutely had to reach our designated camp site this evening to meet up with our motorboat ride into Lake Mead.  The motorboat crew was also bring in supplies for our last night’s supper.  The plan was to pack our lunches before leaving camp and reach the Grotto at lunch time.

Sue, Sarah, Jason and I were in Matt’s raft this morning and he was motivated to put the miles in fairly quickly.  The other guides were not in as much of a hurry so we quickly got out in front and arrived 10 to 15 minutes before the rest of the group.  This was actually great, because this was a very short hike that was obvious, so we were able to explore on our own.

There was no beach to begin this hike.  We climbed out of the raft right onto boulders that were slippery and rugged.

DSCN2001 (2)

From there we hiked up and over a slippery granite rock face. 

DSCN2002 (2)

These pictures were taken by Becky from her vantage point at the creek below. In the above picture, sue is utilizing that other useful hiking tool (her butt) to slide down a slippery section of rock.    ; )

DSCN2003 (1)

Up we went through some rough terrain ……


And several rope ladders and knotted ropes which aided in the climb.


Sue climbed up and down these ladders like she had been doing it all her life!


This picture compliments of Patrick shows the final ladder going up into the ‘Grotto’.


What an incredible scene awaited us.  The water had cut out a large grotto or cave that was as beautiful as any we had ever seen.


As we reached the back side of the grotto, we were met with this amazing waterfall cascading onto and over the travertine walls.


As usual, Sue could not resist the opportunity to soak in the clean water. 


We explored the area and enjoyed the peace and quite of the grotto before everyone else arrived.


After a few minutes, we walked back to the opening to watch the rest of the group make the climb up.  The river can be seen just below us.

IMG_1868 (1)

As everyone scrambled up, we admired the view. On the left side of this photo, in the shade,you can see a section of the rope which was used to climb up onto this section of smooth rock.


The water ran over the ledge which made access the last rope ladder (seen in the upper right) a little tricky.


One of our group climbing the last ladder into the grotto.


Everybody was amazed by the beauty.  The rock shapes reminded me of large rock creatures. 


We ate our lunch in this enchanting place and then had to say goodbye so that we could get to our destination this evening.  I could have stayed so much longer. This was the perfect hike for the final day of our adventure!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Day 12 - National Canyon Hike

Note- Fred wrote this blog.   : )

We had been limited in our hikes the previous day due to the concerns about rain and flash flooding in these side canyons. After all, water rushing down from up canyon was what had shaped all of them. And we were closing in on the last few days we would have in the canyon and on the river so we wanted to enjoy the hikes we had left.  National Canyon was one more chance to walk up one of these very large slot canyons.  The canyon started out as a very wide and relatively flat opening from the river.


But, like most of the hikes before, it quickly developed into a scramble over boulders that had washed down from above and required careful steps and climbing.


We were following a small stream into the canyon and there were numerous small pools and some mud we were dealing with as we went back and forth and side to side seeking the easiest path.


This was not a long hike and we quickly reached a point where it became more narrow.  The shapes of the walls and the coloring were beautiful.


As we rounded a bend in the canyon, it appeared that we had reached the end of our trek.  A fairly deep pool spanned the canyon and on the other side was a beautiful waterfall cascading off of a pretty steep wall.


Well, some of our group were not going to be held back by a little bit of water or a wall.


Sarah and Jason watched several of our group swim the pool and climb the wall.  Not to be left out, they decided to give it a go as well.  Up the wall they went and then navigated through a very narrow slot to see what lay ahead.


Sue and I watched for a while and then decided to enjoy a quite, leisurely hike back to the river at our own pace.


Note – for another perspective of this hike and some rally beautiful pictures, check out Becky’s blog post Day 12 part 1.