Day 41 – Flagstaff
Preparation and loading at Oars boathouse in Flagstaff.
Day 42 – Lees Ferry to Hot Na Na Camp (Mile 16.6)
Launch at boat ramp in Lees Ferry. We see California Condors soaring above Navajo Bridge. I first row the baggage boat, I am struggling to keep it straight. I paddle the little Sheer Wall Rapid. At camp I sleep behind the kitchen because I forget to find a spot at daylight, being so busy with figuring out how the workflow goes.
Day 43 – Hot Na Na to Dune Camp (Mile 30.8)
We pass House Rock, the first real rapid (7). We hike into North Canyon, incredible shapes of rock. Bouldering along the pond. Then we run the „roaring 20ies“ rapids. We pass Shinumo, which means „peaceful little people“. At camp, I ask Cindelle (Dory Guide) what I can do to help, she says „Give me a hug“.
Day 44 – Dune Camp to Lower Saddle (Mile 47.7)
We look at Petroglyphs below camp, then pass Vaseys Paradise, where water shoots out of the rock above the river, watering lush hanging gardens. At Redwall Cavern we try to turn 10 times, while looking up, without falling over. At Mile 36 there is a natural bridge on river right, called „bridge of sighs“.
Day 45 – Lower Saddle to Lower Nankoweep (Mile 53.7)
We hike Saddle Canyon and I try climbing in the waterfall. We hike Nankoweap to see the granaries and enjoy the incredible view downriver from this elevated point.
Day 46 – Lower Nankoweap to Basalt (Mile 70)
We reach the confluence with the Little Colorado River, the site of the terrible proposed Grand Canyon Escalade project that was successfully stopped (for the moment) by a group of Native Americans. More importantly though, it is a spiritual site for many tribes, where life begins and ends. The Little Colorado River brings some silty water into the river and its former blue color is a shade of light brown from here on down. Later we stop and most clients hike Carbon Creek, while I stay with some of the older folks a little further down the river, where we meet them again later. We reach camp early and there is a beautiful drainage to hike up into. Rio and I make it a night hike, and the flowers bloom shines here, even at night. I sleep on the beach right by the water.
Day 47 – Basalt to Nevills (Mile 76)
Morning hike into drainage, lunch at Cardenas (I skip hike and take nap instead). I tag along on Anna’s boat in the afternoon, finally gettin wet and awake when we ride Unkar Rapids.
Day 48 – Nevills to Ninety-on-Mile Creek (Mile 91.7)
Big rapids today: Hance, Sockdolager, Grapevine and Zoroaster. Then we reach Phantom Ranch and hike up into it. I write some postcards that will be sent up by mule. In the afternoon we run Horncreek Rapids, right through the middle. In the evening there’s enough time for a massage for Ruth Ann. At night it rains and gets windy. I don’t sleep well.
Day 49 – Ninety-on-Mile Creek to Hermit Rapid Camp (Mile 91.7)
Ruth Anns Dory „Phantom“ gets bad hits in Granite Falls, we pull over soon after and decide to camp, as they will need some time to fix the Dory. Rio, Roger and Ruth Ann work on the boat. Every now and then we watch other rafts run Hermit Rapids, which are right next to our camp, and I feel the urge to get into my packraft and follow. But I am not stupid enough… and I know there will be days with smaller rapids ahead, so the packraft will have to wait and I curb my euphoria. I spend some time writing and finally doing a long Yoga session again. I also superglue some cracks in my fingers and palms and then I find a great camp spot where I set up my tent, for the first time, as the rain may come back. The creek behind my tent is contaminated with Uranium, from an old mining site up in the South Rim.
Day 50 – Hermit to Bass Camp (Mile 108.5)
All get through Chrystal Rapid unharmed and there I a big sense of relief around. I trailrun the Basstrail and my whole body is grateful for the movement. The view and the brittlebush is amazing. The whole hillside is yellow. There are 18 different types of rock in this stretch.
Day 51 – Bass to Owleye (Mile 135)
We hike Blacktail Canyon, I stay behind to enjoy it and I get some time all by myself in there. I packraft from Ponchos Kitchen through Blacktail Rapids, 122-Mile Rapid and Forster Rapid. I am hooked!!
Day 52 – Owleye to Upset Hotel
Packrafted bigger rapids today. Doris Rapid was fun, 138.5 Mile Rapid too, but my favorite was Fishtail Rapid. Deer Creek hike was incredible. The campsite is narrow. We make Marshmallows at night. I sleep on a Dory and the night offers some incredible stars in the sky and the sky is so bright it lights up the water, which shines in a milky blue.
Day 53 – Upset Hotel to Tuckup
I paddle all day but there are no rapids, it’s just riffles, but I get some more paddling routine in there. We hike into Havasu Canyon, the water is incredibly turquise blue and clear. We take a nap in the shade of a very pretty willow tree by the stream and then hike back.
Day 54 – Tuckup to Tequila Beach
I packraft all day, it’s flat water mostly. Then we run Lava Falls, and all Dories and Rafts get through ist well. Big relief around. Roger burns the beads he and Rio had made from clay they picked up at the Little Colorado River. I find a very pretty place to camp on this large and pretty beach.
Day 55 – Tequila Beach to 202-Mile Camp (Mile 202)
There is a relaxed start to we can all sleep a little longer. I eat Rogers special pancakes, adding lots of maple sirup. Rio makes a bailer for me from the maple sirup container. The weather is grey and it turns out to be my laziest day. It is all flat water and my arms and shoulders need a break to I am letting myself be shipped around by Max on the raft. I sit in the front in my rain gear and re-listen to the audiobook of the „Emerald Mile“. At night I set up my camp again and it rains a little.
Day 56 – 202-Mile Camp to Truckstop
We paddle lots of flat water and some short gnarly rapids with big boils. A motorized trip sponsors some ice. I feel lost because I don’t know how to make Coleslaw ;-). We pull all Dories up onto the beach at this next camp, called Truckstop (I think).
Day 57 – Truckstop to below Surprise Canyon
It is the last hike. B a beautiful one early on the morning on Hualapai Land.
Day 58 – unnamed beach below Surprise Canyon to Pearce Ferry
The speedboat picks us up early and we are shipped to Pearce Ferry, passing through endless sand dunes, all the sand that is washed out of the canyon by the Dam… From afar I see a sea kayak on the roof of a car and later find out it is my craft for the next couple of days. It is brought to me by Izzy from Desert Adventures. She also takes me around the impossible Pearce Ferry Rapid and puts me on the water at South Cove.