Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day Six: Another Day In Paradise

Confluence of the Rivers

The clouds of yesterday's late afternoon shower cleared out during the night and it dawned a beautiful day. However, it was a bit chilly when I woke up and for the first time since the start of the trip, I had to put on my jacket before packing up and walking down to the kitchen. Cooks Mary and Heidi were already heating up water so by the time I arrived, a steaming mug of hot cocoa was waiting for me. Life just doesn't get any better. Unless perhaps you have a few slices of perfectly ripened melons to munch on before a breakfast of French toast and sausage, which I did.

We struck camp and I rode in Elaina's boat for the day. We made good time even stopping once to scout out the massive Kwagunt Rapids before pulling in at the junction of the Colorado River with the Little Colorado River. The Colorado River is a beautiful emerald green in color and the Little Colorado laden with potassium carbonate is an extremely brilliant blue. Where they joined was a myriad of colors and breathtakingly beautiful. As we hiked up the Little Colorado to a little rapids about three fourths of a mile away, I had to scramble to keep up while stopping to take several rolls of pictures.

The day was warming up considerably so we put on our life jackets diaper like to protect our tailbones from rocks and floated through the rapids in train style where the person in front held onto your ankles and you held onto the ankles of the person behind you. It helped ensure that nobody got caught in a recirculating eddy at the bottom of the several small falls we went over. It was a lot of fun and we went over in various train combinations until we were all exhausted.
Confluence of the Rivers

Back at the confluence of both rivers, we ate a lunch of tuna salad sandwiches, potato chips and pecan cookies. During meals, I usually single out somebody to get to know them better and learn about them. Today I talked with assistant cook Mary who turns out is the same age as I am. She lives up in Haines, Alaska that sounds beautiful but not someplace I could ever live. Living with several months of twilight and conversely several months of no darkness just doesn't sound appealing, especially the former.

After lunch, we hit the river and a couple big rapids, namely Lava Canyon Rapids and Tanner Canyon Rapids. Rapids in the Grand Canyon are very easy to locate with any topo map. All you have to do is look for where a side canyon enters the canyon proper and there is bound to be rapids. This is because rocks washed down from the side canyon during torrential flooding accumulate in the main canyon constricting the river and thus forming a rapid. Sometimes two side canyons on opposite sides of the canyon proper meet at the same place and usually that signals even bigger rapids than normal.

We pulled in early at mile 71 near Cardenas Creek. It is a nice camp with tons of individual camping among the tamarisk but was very hot. Today we passed a big fault and the constricting confines of Marble Canyon are now behind us and the wider more open canyon that many people associate with the name Grand Canyon have begun. If the fault weren't indication enough of this, the sudden appearance of hikers along the shore is another indication. We saw quite a few during today's float, another animal I can add to my "spotted" list.

After camp was set up, we set out on a short hike up to some Anasazi ruins. These ruins are theorized to be part of a lookout system of towers set up as an early warning device for unexpected visitors. From these ruins, you can see up to both sides of the canyon and ruins located there including the famous Desert View ruins on the South Rim. I think the Tartan Trail from there to the river was the one that I hiked down so many years ago.

The rest of the group seemed content to just sit up by the ruins so Jorge and I hiked further up the nose about two or three miles to an incredibly exposed and beautiful lookout further up the canyon walls. I took quite a few pictures of flowers on the way back and we took several "imminent death" pictures of us sitting on an exposed overhanging ledge. When we got back to the saddle where the first ruins were situated, we ran into Bronco and Elaina who stayed behind when everyone else headed back to camp. We stayed and talked for a while before heading back to camp with them.

There waiting for us was some cheese and crackers that I enjoyed on the beach while watching the sun go down. I still can't get used to watching the sun go down so early due to the high horizon line of cliffs and having so much time to kill before it is even close to bedtime. For supper, we had grilled chicken quarters, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and cornbread. Because it was Don's birthday, we also had a carrot cake for dessert. After supper, everyone but Bronco, Nick and I went right to bed. The three of us sat up for a while talking about how they got started in the boating business and various hikes they had done in central Idaho. I likewise filled them in on the Wind River Mountains and Ozark Mountains, which I was familiar with. Their lifestyle is so appealing to me that I would love to give it a try sometime if only for a few months. Right now, my life back in Minnesota seems so distant and in the past.
Anasazi Lookout Ruins


The Real Mother Hen said...

A very important question - at what time did you take the above 2 river pictures? You said you took it in April? If not, let me know the month and time when you took the pictures. They are great pictures, the light condition is perfect. I would attempt the last one (anasazi lookout) with a 4x5, at sunrise, just to make it ansel adam like. Now after reading through your posts, I do want to do the boat ride and hike... except I will probably chew their heads off for feeding people so well out in the wild. Anyway, this is definitely a trip for the 4x5.

Ed Abbey said...

Mother Hen - The actual day was Tuesday, April 11, 2000. I'm guessing it was around 10 o'clock in the morning when I took the pictures. To be honest, I think those pictures are beautiful but I never thought they did justice to the actual beauty. I'm not kidding when I said I wasted a whole roll of film just trying to get some pictures of the water colors.

A 4 x 5 camera would have been nice but not practical unless you went on a private trip. We didn't have access to anything waterproof to hold such a big camera and our waterproof bags stayed tied up until we reached camp in the evening.

The Real Mother Hen said...

An April day at 10am when you shot that? Hhmmm, interesting, very interesting. I wouldn't have thought of 10am. You're right, the time spent to get a 4x5 shot can drive people crazy. But I drive people crazy even with my cheap point-n-shoot anyway :)

Btw, what camera were you using to shoot those pictures? And what are you using now?

Ed Abbey said...

Mother Hen - 10 AM is my best guess. I know we pulled out of camp sometime around 7:30 or so and had to go a ways and through several big rapids before reaching the junction plus the hike to the spot where I took the picture. We ate lunch after playing around a couple hours.

I took those pictures using a 35mm Canon EOS SLR that I still own though rarely use these days. Also on the trip, I had a borrowed point and shoot type of 35mm Canon that was waterproof. You can tell those pictures because of the poor exposure. Today I mostly use a point and shoot digital Canon A400 because I can stick it in my pocket to take with me. It has problems and I'm looking to maybe get another one for Christmas if I am a good boy for Santa. Someday I would like a digital SLR. I also have a 120mm camera that I've used a time or two mostly for black and white photography. I've posted some of those pictures on my old blog and can maybe dig them out someday when I'm thinking of them.

Tim Rice said...

Enjoyed the photos and narrative. Sounds like a great time out in the wilderness. I especially liked the last photo in this post.

Anonymous said...

Ah so you're a Canon guy! Canon did a good job in 35mm, but I don't agree with their digital technology though. Well, can I convince you to switch to Nikon? Nikon D700 has great reviews, and if you got it, you can tell me how great it is and make me drool. Or you can get a D300, Costco has a $300-off offer on D300 this Xmas. I've seen what D300 can do, it's bloody amazing. In fact, you will fall over when you see what D200 can produce for me. Hold on, you will fall over even if I show you my point-n-shoot pictures, because I'm, ahem, a Goddess in photography, don't you know? :)

Yes do dig out those black-n-whites when you can.

(Mother Hen, lazy to log in)

sage said...

I love the first photo and am envious of MH's 4x5 camera (I use to use a 2 1/4, but never graduated up to a large format). I'm enjoying the trip.

Ed Abbey said...

Tim - Thanks. I like that last photo too but in the day format of posting this story, it gets overshadowed by the first picture.

Mother Hen - I love my 35mm Canon SLR but have disliked all the other canons I have owned. I'm not sold on getting another one of that brand. I may just go back to my 35mm, develop the negatives myself and then buy a good slide/negative scanner.

Sage - I've always wanted a large format camera too but I'm afraid it isn't in my cards until maybe I'm retired and have time to spend with it.

R. Sherman said...

I love the last photo.

I remember crossing the Little Colorado upstream several miles from the Canyon and not being impressed. Nonetheless, the Navajo had a big flea market set up selling blankets and pots.


The Real Mother Hen said...

Don't go back to 35mm, even a $10k scanner you can't get what digital can give you now! Trust me on this. I can sell you a Nikon slide scanner if you want :) Digital technology, coupled with software, have gone way too good and complicated now. I've seen a digital SLR produce BETTER quality picture than a Medium format slide scanned with a top-end scanner. The key is actually the software. We really have come to an age where you just have to go either 4x5 (totally manual) or digital. You can't go in between (35mm) anymore.

Charley Pitchford said...

Awesome photos!!! I found your blog via "Ramblings".

Beau said...

Wonderful pictures!

Ed Abbey said...

R. Sherman - I've driven by that flea market.

Mother Hen - Don't worry, I'm just venting. I doubt that I would ever do that just because I love the ability to see that I have a good photo right away instead of just guessing.

Charley Pitchford - Thanks for stopping by. Come back again.

Beau - Thanks. Even a monkey gets lucky now and again.

PI said...

Hi Ed - just popped over from Randall's to look at your amazing photos. I'm out to lunch so will be back to read about your adventures.

Ed Abbey said...

PI - Thanks for dropping by. I've seen your comments before on other blogs so it is a pleasure to have them gracing mine as well.