Monday, June 18, 2012

The Grand Canyon (Day 9) - May I please have some more sand!

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 26, 2012

I must admit, I'm a little bit down today. I can't believe I'm smack dab in the middle of one of the most awesome places on Earth and I'm in poor morale. My only issue is that I miss my fiance, Jenny. That's it. Since I'm a glass-is-half-full kind of guy I tell myself that this is excellent news and I would have a real problem if I didn't miss her at this point. Still, that doesn't really help. I had my mind set geared toward today being the day I could make a phone call to her from Phantom Ranch. It's kind of like running distance for me. If I have my mind set that I'm going to run a 50k then that's what I'm going to do and it's really no different of a mind set than setting out mentally to run a 5k. I was mentally prepared today to call home and it didn't happen because we didn't get to Phantom Ranch yet. Blah...

We're currently hunkered down at the Grapevine Campsite. It's a wonderful campsite in the Inner Gorge that has a long narrow beach that is abreast to a shear wall of vishnu schist and zoroaster granite. There's an amazing contrast between the nearly black schist and pink granite that intertwines together. It looks like freaking "Middle Earth" or something. Most people never get to see this part of the Grand Canyon because unless you raft the river it is difficult to get to from either the North or South Rims. It's also super SUPER old in geological time. The Vishnu Schist is nearly 2 billion year old rock. Absolutely insane to think about! Today is also Athena's birthday. And, I say we're hunkered down because we're experiencing some foul weather. It's extremely windy with intermittent rain showers. The wind is causing a horrid sandstorm on this otherwise beautiful beach. We stayed here in 2008 and it was hands down my favorite campsite. Right now it seems like a little bit of hell.

Don't get me wrong. We are making the best of our situation. Tonight we plan to celebrate Athena's birthday by baking her a cake in a dutch oven. It's also hamburger night, which I'm totally stoked for and everyone is pretty much in great spirits while pretending to ignore the blowing sand that has found its way into EVERYTHING. I think I'm the only one struggling with morale right now. Other than Bob, who is a lot more used to being alone on the river, I'm the only one without their significant other.  I went for a hike alone a little bit ago for two reasons. First, I wanted to climb to the top of this section where I turned back in 2008. It overlooks the campsite and requires a little technical climbing (see the above panoramic I took from the top). And secondly, I don't want to bring down my fellow river rafters with my morale issues. I think it helped, but I know I'll be back to normal and better after tomorrow when I'll at least have a chance to call home and make sure Jenny got home from Boston (Marathon) OK. That's the last I talked to her.

Ahhhh.... anyways. Enough of that feeling sorry for myself bullshit. I'm here to have an adventure damnit! Here's how we ended up here today. The weather pretty much went to sh*t  almost as soon as we entered the inner gorge this morning. It was like the Grand Canyon was saying, "so you want to have some fun on my world class rapids? You must first earn it by enduring the wrath of Mother Nature!" When this happened Butch quickly made the call to stop early (around 1 p.m.) to strategically set us up better for tomorrow. If we had continued today we would have faced some dangerous rapids late in the day. This way we'll be facing Horn Rapid first thing tomorrow morning. If something goes wrong then we'll have all day to address the situation, rather than dealing with it in the dark. There also aren't many campsites in the inner gorge and this is one of the best. I think that played into the decision as well.

We did run Hance, Nevilles and Sockdolger today... all of which are f*cking serious rapids, but Robert ran them all. He did great too, with no mistakes. I actually think he ran them better than some of the veterans in our party. This is probably because Robert and I are so damn scared of them that it's making us super safe. I've decided that I do not like going through these larger rapids as a passenger. I need to be in control. I'm very conflicted because I trust Robert 100-percent, but I think my personality needs to have control. Tomorrow I'm going to ask to run some bigger rapids starting with the Grapevine rapid. It's only a few hundred yards down river from our campsite and I've already scouted it from the top of the bluff I climbed up to earlier. I really need to cheer up! Seriously, what's one more day before being able to call home. We've been in the wilderness for 9 days and I'm pretty sure that's the longest I've ever gone without any outside contact, electricity, cell phones, air condition, running water, etc. Bring on day 10! I'm ready for anything this canyon wants to throw at us! 

 Athena makes a wish (hopefully for the sandstorm to stop) and celebrates her birthday with a dutch 
oven baked chocolate cake!

 I laughed my ass off when I first saw this picture. It's Bob, Robert and myself trying to make a human shield against the blowing sand for Butch while he grills our burgers.

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