Grand Canyon Expedition Day 6: Little Colorado River and a birthday
A beautiful morning, the best so far! It started out maybe in the low 50’s and warmed quickly today since our camp got good morning sunlight. You could watch the shadow of the east rim move down the west wall until the sunlight suddenly hit the camp. Pancakes with syrup for breakfast. Or in Ariel’s case, syrup with pancakes. [Note in the photo the cleanup crew is using a 4 bucket system for washing: pre-wash (plain water), wash (hot, soapy), rinse (hot, clear), and disinfect (cold with bleach added). The mesh bag under the table is a big drying rack for the dishes. You can see how they could get covered in sand if left there too long.]
(Click image to enlarge) The rubber gloves are essential for skin care in this dry climate. The tarp under the washing station is required by the park service to ensure food and trash stays out of the sand. Afterwards the tarps are dumped in the river.
TRIP TIP: Be sure to ask the outfitter for a pair of extra large latex gloves.
It took much longer to get packed up and get on the river today after having a layover day. I guess it takes longer to pack because everything gets more unpacked after two days. I have too much stuff! We could have left Ariel’s school books at home. There’s no way she’s going to do any schoolwork other than play cello to practice for the concert she has the second day she gets back to school. We finally left Nankoweap (river mile 53.5) and got on the river at 10:10 AM.
After 9 miles and 1 easy class 5 rapid, we reached the Little Colorado River right at noon. We pulled out a collapsible table and made lunch before walking up the Little Colorado to go swimming. There are some huge fish in the main Colorado just upstream of the mouth of the Little. Doesn’t matter what they are, there is no fishing in this area because an endangered species nests here.
After eating, we all made our way up the bank of the Little Colorado. Normally this river is a welcome change from the cold waters of the main, but we are so lucky that the main is just as warm, almost 60. I expect the main hasn’t been this warm since they first filled Lake Powell 50 years ago. Hard to believe before they built the dam it was about 72 degrees. The new normal is 45 degrees. (If you know, please share that info.)
I suggested to Ariel to bring a sleeping pad with her so she could ride it like a raft down the little riffles in the milky-green water. Kathleen had a double-thick pad that worked great. Ariel and I were the first ones to go. We floated down together on the mattress and didn’t even fall off going over the ledges. She had a ball and did it 3 more times.
The water feels good. It’s very sunny and warm. After almost an hour we made our way back to the rafts, put on more sunscreen and headed down river. We got to Carbon camp, river mile 65, around 4:00 PM.
We celebrated Chatham’s birthday tonight and Ariel played her cello in the dark. The day was nice, but I can feel the weather changing… Not sure if tomorrow will be as nice as today.
If you think I’m giving Ariel a lot of press, yep, you’re right. Don’t worry, you’ll miss her in a few days when she hikes out and goes back to school.