We passed a number of interesting sights as we floated down the Canyon. Our guides were good at pointing things out or giving us a history lesson or geology lesson as fitted the situation. We would do a number of hikes…..some short, some longer……but we might also just pull up to a point of interest and scamper up to take a look. A few sights we would just have to be content with seeing from the raft.
On our very first day in the Canyon, we pulled up at Mile 12 for a bit of a history lesson. In 1889, Brown,the president of a railway company, was on a survey expedition. He had proposed building a river level railway through the canyon. He drowned at this spot and two others drowned slightly down river.
Later, Stanton, the only survivor placed this inscription in the rock to memorialize Brown. We all scampered up to take a look.
At Mile 32 – We were delighted to see Vasey’s Paradise. A beautiful little waterfall with ferns and vegetation that was named by the explorer John Wesley Powell after his botanist G.W. Vasey.
On our third day on the river we pulled up at Redwall Cavern (Mile 33). This was AWESOME!
I can’t describe-and the pictures don’t do justice- to the size of this cavern. Look closely at the picture and you can see a person standing waaay in the back of the cave by the wall.
It was beautiful and peaceful…..sandy floor and wide open…….Big enough for tossing a football or a game of horse shoes. The guides unloaded games and activities and we stayed a couple of hours, eating our lunch here.
Then we just found a comfortable rock and kicked back………
Oh – one other neat bit of history/geology – The guides pointed out this fossilized Sea Lily stem embedded in one of the rocks. Imagine all of this was once covered by ocean.
That same day (the 3rd day) at Mile 39-We stopped for a short hike to take a look at the proposed Marble Canyon Dam site, an effort which was fortunately defeated. We walked through the tunnel that had been blasted out when work crews were taking core samples to determine whether the rock was strong enough to support a dam at this location. The tunnel went much further back than we had thought! We were glad that the guides had remembered to bring flashlights…...This was not a place for the claustrophobic!
At Mile 43 – We floated by remains of a wooden bridge built by the Anasazi Indians. Wood will remain well preserved for many years in the desert environment of the canyon. OK – This was really, really high up the canyon wall……I can not picture me walking across the canyon on a wooden bridge!
Not much further down river at Mile 53 - we spotted the Nankoweap granaries. These rectangular openings in the rock wall were the site of Native American grain storage bins. They were not too high up, so I guess that they were accessed from the river. There was a trail leading from the river to the granaries, but 2 other rafting groups were hiking there, so just took our pictures from the raft and floated on by.
We passed a couple of different Park Service science groups who were camped along the river to do research…..I’m not sure on what…….
On our 5th day, just before Mile 62, we passed the confluence of the Colorado River with the Little Colorado River.
The most notable significance of this was that the water turned from greenish to brown with the additional silt that was washing in from the Little Colorado. Gone was the desire to wash up in the river. Now it just seemed like we lived with a layer of brown river silt.
Fred took a picture of his hat because he just could not believe how brown water spotted it had become for being splashed by the river rapids!
At Mile 64 – we passed the Sacred Hopi salt mines. The Hopi Indians would mine the salt deposits which leached out of the canyon wall. No one was allowed to stop or hike here, as the Hopi regard this place as a sacred ancestral site.
At Mile 180 – Lava flows that once blocked the canyon – I had never known that volcanoes helped to form the Grand Canyon. Several times in the Canyon’s history volcanic eruptions flowed lava down the canyon walls, sealing off side canyons and even damming the river.
The Colorado being the mighty river that it is, just cut a new course around the lava flow……
Leaving in its wake Lava Falls Rapid at mile 180. Ranked as a class 10 rapid, this is one of the biggest and most difficult rapids on this section of the river. We would run this rapid on our 12th day.
We camped our 13th night at Mile 213 - Pumpkin Springs. This arsenic polluted spring colored the rock, making it decidedly pumpkin-like. No swimming allowed! The site for the groover (toilet) overlooked the top of the springs. It was yucky looking. Covered in moldy slime…….
Our 14th day on the river and our last day in the rafts, we passed Diamond Peak at Mile 225 – The summit of Diamond Peak, at 3,500 feet is just 230 feet higher than the elevation at Lees Ferry……meaning that we had dropped in elevation over the 225 river miles the height of this peak. It is an amazing thing to note……
Also on that 14th day…..at Mile 238 – We spotted the proposed dam explosives storage shack……also known as the ‘doorway to another dimension’……
At Mile 265.5 – Seen by motor boat on our last day - The Grand Canyon Skywalk, managed by the Hualapai tribe and located on tribal lands. We are not fans of this skywalk. It is a long way from the South Rim National park (much closer to Las Vegas) and they charge a fortune to see the skywalk. I’ll take our experience of the canyon, thank you!
We experienced so, so much more of the canyon on the hikes that we did…..,discovering the heights and overlooks as well as a number of hidden gems. I’ll write about all of that, next……..