Grand Canyon

May 2019


Grand Canyon ~ May 2019

Grand Canyon ~ In May of 2019 I joined AzRA for my third 14-day Colorado River adventure, 226 miles of splishy-splashy, great food, many side canyon hikes, stupendous river companions, and hail-to-the-weather.

Pics L->R: Havasu Creek, Navaho Bridge View, Evening Primrose, Paddle Raft, Morning Light, Stone Creek Waterfall, Evening Light, Vasey's Paradise, & Pebbles & Ripples.

Grand Canyon River Map

Grand Canyon River Map ~ On May 18 our group of 20 cast off from Lee's Ferry (MP0) at 11AM, and that evening we camped river left (RL) at MP13; day 2 camped RL at Silver Grotto (MP29½); day 3 river right (RR) at Saddle Canyon (MP47½); day 4 (RL) at Carbon Creek (MP65); day 5 RR at Cremation Creek (MP86½); day 6 five walked out Bright Angle (MP89½) while five walked in leaving snow at the South Rim and bringing sunshine to the river after 4 days of winter-in-May, while that evening we camped above Crystal Rapid RR (MP98½); day 7 RR above 119 Mile Rapid; day 8 RR below Deubendorff Rapid (MP132½). On day 9 with clouds and sprinkles we camped just beyond Matkatamiba Rapid RL (MP149); day 10 to more overcast we hiked Havasu then camped just beyond Tuckup Canyon RR (MP165¼); day 11 we ran Lava Falls then camped just beyond RR (MP180); day 12 the sun brilliantly shone so that evening we celebrated at Parashant Wash RR (MP189); day 13 several plunged at Jump Rock (MP215) swimming Three Springs Rapid and we later camped at 220 Mile Canyon RR (MP220). Day 14 we reached our takeout at Diamond Creek RL (MP225½). After cleaning and taking the boats down we departed for ice cream and OMG civilization.

MP0: Launch at Lee's Ferry

MP0: Launch at Lee's Ferry ~ On our first day we started early in Flagstaff at Little America, then traveled for 2½ hours to our starting point at Lee's Ferry. After loading our gear onto our 6 rafts {1 paddle raft, 4 oar rafts, and 1 dory}, and being given the all important discussion of best river practices, we were introduced to our river guides. At 11 AM we were off to blue skies and warm temperatures. But little did we know of the tomorrows.

MP4½: Navaho Bridge View

MP4½: Navaho Bridge View ~ Just before arriving at Lee's Ferry (by bus from Flagstaff) we crossed the Navaho bridge. It was our first glimpse of the Colorado River, and this day it looked muddy. That consistency would change [from muddy to clear to muddy and back again] many times as our days progressed.

MP12: Desert Big Horn Sheep

MP12: Desert Big Horn Sheep ~ Mid afternoon on our first day we sighted this small, herd of Big Horn Sheep. Sadly this would be our only sighting, and equally sadly we saw no ring tail cats either. Maybe this year's plentiful rain provided them with ample water and forage elsewhere.

MP20¾: North Canyon Hike

MP20¾: North Canyon Hike ~ Our first canyon exploration was a short, steep hike up North Canyon.

MP20¾: North Canyon Pool

MP20¾: North Canyon Pool ~ Near the river is the North Canyon Pool with easy access.

MP32¼: Vasey's Paradise

MP32¼: Vasey's Paradise ~ This year with so much rainfall Vasey's outflow was spectacular. As in years past, it is always a delight. Those in the dory had a great front row seat.

MP33: Redwall Cavern Ahead

MP33: Redwall Cavern Ahead ~ On the morning of our third day we explored the magnificent Redwall Cavern amphitheater.

MP33: Concert at Redwall Cavern

MP33: Concert at Redwall Cavern was a grand place to enjoy the sounds of music. And with so many talented people on this trip, it turned out to be a splendid musical river adventure. Along the way we had many impromptu guitar concerts with three guides and one participant strumming fine tunes.

MP33: Tumble at Redwall Cavern

MP33: Tumble at Redwall Cavern ~ Music, gawking, and tumbling - what more can you ask?

MP34: Water Seep

MP34: Water Seep ~ Just past Vasey's Paradise are numerous water seeps.

MP37: Hailstorm's Waterfall

MP37: Hailstorm's Waterfall ~ I expected hot and sunny, not wintery cold and wet. But on our 3rd day we took refuge while on the water from a pelting hailstorm at a cliff's edge overhand. And while protected against the ¼ inch ice balls two new waterfalls emerged, one just feet away up river and another down river from our sanctuary. A life remembering experience!

MP38: Calm After The Storm

MP38: Calm After The Storm ~ Our pelting hailstorm occurred at 11:30, but by 11:45 the sky had cleared. What a difference a moment makes.

MP39½: Marble Canyon Tunnel Site View

MP39½: Marble Canyon Tunnel Site View ~ The Marble Canyon Dam was proposed in the 1920s. The dam was intended to impound a relatively small reservoir in the central portion of Marble Canyon to develop hydroelectric power. Had the dam be built, the Colorado River would have been reduced to a trickle through the park. This locale was a site of exploration. [Reference Wikipedia]

MP49: Morning Light

MP49: Morning Light ~ Our 4th day began with beautiful morning light. But the temperature was cold and the overcast later turned nasty. Savor it when you can.

MP61½: Little Colorado

MP61½: Little Colorado ~ Thankfully during the afternoon of our 4th day the sky was mostly clear, but the temperature had dropped precipitously. Nonetheless we had a walk up the Little Colorado. It was a short and pleasant diversion to view the turquoise waters studded by red rocks.

MP62: Little Colorado Interphase

MP62: Little Colorado Interphase ~ That afternoon of our 4th day, the waters of the Little Colorado were bright turquoise, while those of the Colorado were muddy. That difference was caused by upstream rainfall turbulence. Day to day, hour to hour, it can and does change.

MP68¾: Tanner Rapid

MP68¾: Tanner Rapid ~ The morning of our 5th day we stopped above Tanner Rapid to view petroglyphs. Along the way were wildflowers and spectacular views.

MP68¾: Petroglyphs Near Tanner Rapid

MP68¾: Petroglyphs Near Tanner Rapid

MP68¾: Evening Primrose

MP68¾: Evening Primrose ~ Simple and elegant, one of my favorite wildflowers.

MP74: Flat Water

MP74: Flat Water

MP75: Cherishing The Blue Sky

MP75: Cherishing The Blue Sky

MP96: Muddy Waters Again

MP96: Muddy Waters Again ~ In the morning of our 6th day five in our group walked out along the Bright Angle Trail starting at Pipe Creek (MP89½), while a new five walked in. I can only imagine what those walking out were thinking as they reached the rim to freezing temperatures. But those walking in began the early morning with snow on the trail until they reached the 1½ mile mark, and by the time they joined us at the river the weather was turning delightfully warm. Their good weather karma would last a short 3 days.

MP105: Blue Skies Above / Muddy Waters Below

MP105: Blue Skies Above / Muddy Waters Below ~ Our 7th day began with stupendous weather - warm and sunny.

MP106: Paddle Raft Salute

MP106: Paddle Raft Salute ~ A thanks to the weather god.

MP107: Canyon Bliss

MP107: Canyon Bliss ~ Time to appreciate our wonderful surroundings.

MP108½: Ross Wheeler Boat

MP108½: Ross Wheeler Boat ~ High on the Colorado's bouldery shoreline in the heart of Grand Canyon lies this old metal rowboat. For nine decades it has represented the highpoint of comic calamity on the river.

MP117:  Royal Arch Creek Waterfall in Elves Chasm

MP117: Royal Arch Creek Waterfall in Elves Chasm ~ During the afternoon of our 7th day we took a delightful hike to view this waterfall.

MP122: Along Conquistador Aisle

MP122: Along Conquistador Aisle ~ Morning bliss at the start of our 8th day.

MP122: Thankful for the Blue Sky

MP122: Thankful for the Blue Sky ~ A perfect morning to start our 8th day.

MP132½: Scarlet Monkey Flower at Stone Creek

MP132½: Scarlet Monkey Flower at Stone Creek ~ A most excellent walk up Stone Creek. Along the way were waterfalls and wildflowers.

MP132½: Stone Creek Waterfall

MP132½: Stone Creek Waterfall ~ A delightful hike up Stone Creek led to several waterfalls. This one is 1½ miles up trail from the river, while another is a bit further at 2 miles. Both are about 12 feet tall.

MP132½: Stone Creek Waterfall

MP132½: Stone Creek Waterfall ~ The second of two waterfalls I viewed while walking along Stone Creek. This one was about 2 miles distance from the water, and is about 12 feet tall.

MP137: Deer Creek Falls

MP137: Deer Creek Falls ~ With easy access from the river, Deer Creek Falls is a great place to listen to the roar of falling water. The waterfall plunges 180 feet.

MP137: Deer Creek Falls

MP137: Deer Creek Falls ~ Deer Creek flows down from springs and through side canyons on the north side of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. It is a stunning creek that flows through spectacular canyons as it winds its way toward the Colorado. And it ends its journey with a bang as it plunges 180 feet down Deer Creek Falls. [Reference Waterfalls of the Grand Canyon]

MP148½: Matkatamiba Canyon Trailhead

MP148½: Matkatamiba Canyon Trailhead ~ During the afternoon of our 9th day we squeezed our 5 rafts and dory within a narrow crevice of access to Matkatamiba Canyon. It took a bit of maneuvering and a bit of climbing over a sea of rafts to reach dry land and the trailhead. Then we had a short walk up the canyon. AND I have to say our access conundrum was as much fun as the walk.

MP157: Havasu Creek

MP157: Havasu Creek ~ Visiting Havasu Creek may be reason enough to raft the Grand Canyon. On the morning of our 10th day we moored our boats for the retreat. Getting to the creek required a short scramble up and down some ledges, then a ford across Havasu Creek, and then a short walk upsteam to our play area. Along the way we enyoyed the beautiful, turbulent turquoise waters with its backdrop of red rock.

MP157: Havasu Creek Superslide

MP157: Havasu Creek Superslide ~ Nothing is more fun than running the Havasu Creek superslide. Definitely worth the price of admission.

MP167: National Canyon

MP167: National Canyon is a place we had short walk during the morning of our 11th day. At the end of the easy footpath many stopped for portraits.

MP167: The Goose, Gander, and Hare in National Canyon

MP167: The Goose, Gander, and Hare in National Canyon ~ After a bit of Photoshop magic, who's now laughing harder - the goose or the gander?

MP167: National Canyon ~ Pebbles and Ripples

MP167: National Canyon ~ Pebbles and Ripples ~ Simple beauty along the stream bed.

MP179½: Lava Falls

MP179½: Lava Falls ~ In the afternoon of our 11th day we reached Lava Falls. The first coarse of business was to scout the rapids. But rather than a simple peruse, the raft I was in stayed behind to shoot the rapids in a different manner. My climb to a suitable perch was strewn with not so friendly boulders. Nonetheless, I found a worthy site to play photographer.

MP179½: Lava Falls

MP179½: Lava Falls ~ The Dory bobbed bow-to-stern and contorted port-to-starboard, but held a true coarse down Lava Falls. It was a whack-a-mole splishy-splashy ride through Lava Falls.

MP180:  Evening Light

MP180: Evening Light ~ After the excitement running Lava Falls, we camped immediately afterwards river-right. And with improving weather (and light) I had the opportunity to capture a river sunset.

MP183: Morning Sun

MP183: Morning Sun on our 12th day was stupendous. It was a long overdue day of warmth (or maybe a day of thankful hot) and a lovely morning of sunshine.

MP188½: Petroglyphs at Whitmore Wash

MP188½: Petroglyphs at Whitmore Wash ~ A short walk led us to these petroglyphs.

MP188½: Whitmore Wash Up-River

MP188½: Whitmore Wash Up-River ~ Along the path to the petroglyphs of Whitmore Wash was this delightful morning up-river scene. Thank the weather gods.

MP188½: Whitmore Wash Down-River

MP188½: Whitmore Wash Down-River ~ Also along the path to the petroglyphs of Whitmore Wash was this delightful morning down-river scene.

MP199: Party at Parashant Wash

MP199: Party at Parashant Wash ~ Sunshine, warm weather, and a superb campsite. It was our next to the final evening on the river. It was party time. I bought this number for $10 when I recently visited Cuba, and was now praising the weather gods for the opportunity to show it off. With my lead, river guide Michele brought out her stash of costumes, so now most everyone celebrated in party dress. What a blast.

MP215: Jump Rock

MP215: Jump Rock ~ It's a bird, no it's a plane, no it's neither. At milepost 215, day 13 and our last full river day, several chose to jump ship and then swim Three Springs Rapid (at MP216). Not so much a swim, but a chilly, 1 mile, river current float.