Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Grand Canyon (Day 12) - Bass Camp

The following post is from the journal I kept of my recent adventure upon a 21-day private river rafting trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon from Lee's Ferry to Diamond Peak (about 230 miles) that took place between April 18th and May 8th, 2012.

April 29, 2012

I wish everyday was like today; a perfect mix of hiking and rafting. We decided at dinner last night to pack the boats and tear down camp first thing this morning and then hike to the Bass homesite from where we camped. This way if anyone comes down the river they won't think we're a layover day and pass up on such a good campsite.

The hike to Bass is a good one. It's all single track trail and well established. It switches back and forth up about 700 or 800 feet over a hill and then goes down a significant ways to Shinumo Creek where it eventually meets and passes the Bass homesite. William W. Bass settled one of the first tourist camps in the Grand Canyon in about 1890 and later constructed a trans-Canyon trail and cableway across the river. Butch and Bob say that he actually came into the Canyon looking for something to mine, probably gold, but soon figured out there wasn't any and ended up finding himself a wife, starting a family and turning to tourism to support his family. Today it's just a bunch of very old rusty tools, parts of an oven, pots, pans and other artifacts all in a little rock shelter area by the creek. It's all laying out on display for hikers to look at. A little further down the trail I find a great shot of Shinumo Creek and take a few minutes to compose the photograph. I don't have a tripod so I support the camera on rocks. Like Phantom Ranch there are cottonwood trees growing around this site, obviously planted by Bass.

The entire hike is beautiful. Many of the desert plants are in bloom. On the way back I decide I want to trail run so I tighten down the straps to my backpack and start to run. I'm wearing my Brooks Cascadia trail shoes so why the hell not? Some sections are too steep to run so I speed hike them kind of like many of the runners did when Jenny and I ran the North Face 50k in Virginia last year. Once I make it to the top of the hill I really let loose and use gravity and my long legs to my advantage. It's not only a physical activity, but very mental also as I plan each step carefully always thinking 4-5 steps ahead of where I'm at. During the run I make note to bring a helmet with the GoPro mounted on top for video the next time. I think this is the steepest and fastest I've ever ran down a trial. I make it to the boats 30 minutes before the others hiking back. My eyes are actually tired from focusing so hard on the trail ahead of me.

We eat deli sandwiches for lunch and hit the river! Just like the past two days I somehow get first shot at the controls. Shinumo Creek rapid is long and curvy, kind of like a mini Tuna Creek. It's not big, but requires lots of pulling and pushing to avoid rocks and the sides of the river. The entire thing takes nearly 10 minutes and it's not until some while after that we realize we ended up going through a second rapid named for whatever river mile it's located at and thought it was part of Shinumo. Anyways, it's a hell of an arm workout and after the trail run I feel like I got a well-rounded workout today.

Robert takes us through Waltenberg Rapid and that was a big one. Bigger than I expect. Just as we're approaching the tongue we look ahead of us at Andy and Kathy and see them almost flip! Bob had gone before them and Andy thought he was trying to cheat it so he followed. Only thing is, there was a big hole halfway through and they both hit it. We quickly change our plan and decide to go left at the entry just the same as Butch did before Bob and Andy. We take a huge wave right over the bow. I saw it coming 20 feet ahead of time and because of my experience in surfing I can tell the timing is just right for the nasty thing to crest and break just as we will hit it. I brace hard as hundreds of pounds of water come splashing down upon our bow. It's actually cold and refreshing in the heat, but hair-raising at the same time.

We're now camped at the lower mile 114 campsite near Garnet Canyon. It's our turn to cook dinner so I'll close for now.

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