Grand Canyon

September 2008


Grand Canyon Adventure

Grand Canyon Adventure - Two weeks of wet & wild through the Grand Canyon on an AzRA raft journey. Lots of sun, fine food, great people, diverse wildlife, sans night-life, and the Groover. 225 miles on the water, somewhat less exploring side canyons.

Left top-down to right-bottom - (1) Milepost MP156: Havasu Creek, (2) MP136: Deer Creek Falls, (3) MP88: Bright Angel Canyon near Phantom Ranch, (4) MP148: Matkatamiba Canyon, (5) MP114: Muddy Colorado River, (6) MP170: Perfect Day, (7) MP4: Navajo Bridge, (8) MP156: Team effort crossing Havasu Creek, and (9) MP131: Recovery of flipped raft after Dubendorff Rapid.

Navajo Bridge View

Navajo Bridge View (MP4) - The view of the Colorado River at the Navajo Bridge near our take-in point at Lee's Ferry (MP0). The canyon here is narrow and not particularly deep, the official start of the Grand Canyon National Park does not begin until MP61 where the Little Colorado River joins its big brother.

Navajo Bridge

Navajo Bridge (MP4) - A portentous start with less than cooperative weather: Clouds, drizzle, and less than desired mercury. Our group of 20 adventurers, 5 most excellent guides, and 2 assistants launched in 4 oar rafts plus 1 paddle raft at Lee's Ferry in the early afternoon. We passed under the Navajo Bridge shortly thereafter at 3PM. It was a short river day, we traveled 11 miles stopping for our first night's camp at Soap Creek (MP11).

Clear Skies

Clear Skies (MP30) - Clouds and drizzle from the day before turned into 13 days of sunshine, the weather gods favored us. During these days we experienced a few moments of afternoon thunder, one short thunder shower while exploring a side canyon, and a short wind storm at camp driving all to put up tents with rock ballast.


Petroglyphs (MP31½) - An evening walk from our South Canyon camp to ancient petroglyphs.

Vasey's Paradise

Vasey's Paradise (MP32) - "... we find fountains bursting from the rock high overhead, and the spray in the sunshine forms the gems which bedeck the wall." 9 Aug. 1869, John Wesley Powell. At nearby Redwall Cavern, a large natural amphitheater, Tim & Manfred sang in voices of splendid baritone Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

Canyon Float

Canyon Float (MP80) - Enjoying the diverse geology of the canyon.

That night we made camp near Lonetree Canyon (MP83¾), I call it a night of 1000 ringtails. At dusk we were treated with many sightings of the curious and cute ringtail cat. Gorgeous ringed tails, large inquiring ears, and devil eyes that glow in the dark. Grooooovy!

Bright Angel Canyon

Bright Angel Canyon (MP88) - On day 6, three in our group hiked out while another three hiked in. Meanwhile everyone else enjoyed the solitude of Phantom Ranch, some even mailed postcards which got carried out by mule. Later we sauntered through Bright Angel Canyon delighting in panoramic views, and wetting our souls with a swim.

Quartz Vane

Quartz Vane (MP91½) - A walk up Trinity Creek yields interesting vanes of quartz.


Relaxing (MP114¼) - A pleasant morning exploring, relaxing, and swimming at Garnet Canyon. Some appropriately relax more than explore!

Muddy Colorado River

Muddy Colorado River (MP114) - It has been days since the Little Colorado River (MP61) joined the Colorado where fine silt further muddied the water. This segment of the river is near and above Garnet Canyon.

Elves Chasm Falls

Elves Chasm Falls (MP116½) - Another time to relax. An easy saunter up Elves Chasm to a haven of clear pools, dripping moss, and ferns. A time to swim, and a time to remove layers of river silt and sunscreen. Sadly, that clean feeling is short lived - and so it goes.


Recovery (MP132¼) - A morning spill in Deubendorff Rapid, a flipped raft, and five rescued: Janet, Carol, and Thunder stay with Bill (our most excellent Texas guide and leader who misplaced his oar), while Ruth floats downstream facing the flipped raft. All yell for Ruth when someone finally says "turn around." Ruth now realizes her rescue will be with Somer, as her raft approaches from downstream. All the while, Ruth becomes a deity as another raft group watches our circus act from shore as they chant "Ruth, Ruth, Ruth, Ruth, ..."

It took eight bodies of hang-on hoedown posturing to right the raft. Later Carol recalls "a life experience" as instinct goes into overdrive to clear herself from under the raft, from within the turbulent water, and to the sanctuary of the surface.

Deer Creek Falls

Deer Creek Falls (MP136¼) "leaps into the Colorado by a direct fall of more than 100 feet, forming a beautiful cascade. On the rocks in the cavelike chamber are ferns, with delicate fronds and enameled stalks." 23 Aug. 1869, John Wesley Powell.

Matkatamiba Canyon

Matkatamiba Canyon (MP148) - A beautiful and narrow slot canyon.

Havasu Creek

Havasu Creek (MP156¾) - Three weeks previous an upstream earthen dam failed causing a flash flood, turning the turquoise waters brown, and reeking havoc to the trail to Havasu Falls. Recovering, the waters were milky with a hint of turquoise. We didn't explore very far, but still a stunning sight.

Team Crossing

Team Crossing (MP156¾) - Flowing fast, we joined hands in safety to cross Havasu Creek.

A Stunning View

A Stunning View (MP170) - The canyon walls seem to grow taller leaving one with a sense of insignificance in these environs of the spectacular. A great place to be.

The next day at Lava Falls (MP179½), Hiram observes wife Marianne flying overhead. A perfect rescue, a wicked rapid.