Grand Canyon – Lava Falls, the Grand Finale

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April 14

This was the big day that most of the boys had been waiting for, and had gotten waterproof video cameras for: Lava Falls. Rate 8-10 out of 10 with a 13 foot drop, followed by the Lower Lava Rapid with a 14 foot drop.

Because of the hike, we had 42 miles of river between us and Lava Falls.

cimg1037The wind the previous night had me tracking down the clothes I had lain out to dry, but the hike led to a good sleep. We awoke to our last full day in the canyon, and watching the sunshine creep down the walls of the canyon was just as amazing as it was the first morning of the trip.

During the fire line to load the bags, I was at the front of the boat, throwing/handing up our bags and supplies to those on the boat. I threw the last personal compression bag up on to the boat, not realizing that John who was catching had his back to me. I saw that it was going into the water, so I dove across the metal front of the boat to try and grab it, but missed. Walker looked at me and calmly said “you’re going to have to go in after it, before it passes the rapids.” after a quick curse, I jumped into to the cold Colorado and retrieved the bag, which ended up being my brother’s. Luckily, only his fleece was damp so he let me live.

cimg1063cimg1063To make up for the short river mileage caused by yesterdays hike, today was a day on the boat. The maximum allowable mileage for a boat in the canyon (according to Walker) is 50 miles, and we did just that. I sat in the back, to protect and use my waterproof camera and because it was closest to the beer sack, trailing along behind us in the cold Colorado River. p4140308The rafting was great, but I enjoy hiking more.p4140317

As if on cue, we stopped at Havasu Creek for a hike, where the water is a tuquoise color, with some white sand mixed in. Apparently it was clear until a flood about three years ago, that dredged up the white sand and washed out a pond used by the Indians that live in the canyon. The place we stopped for a bit was called the Big Kids Pond, so we took a clue and played around in it like…well…big kids.

cimg1087We stopped for lunch at a small campsite around mile 161, and I took advantage for a small hike along the river. I saw the gent in the photo on the right come down the river, wondering how far he had gone standing up on his skiff. Maybe next time we can try that?

The grand finale was Lava Falls. We passed Vulcan’s Anvil, as Walker hummed the Darth Vader theme. Our two organizers, TerryT and Ron, assumed the front positions, and Mike (who had run the falls before, one time when he had been thrown out by the rapids and the boat overturned later) suggested that Walker read the words of John Wesley Powell, the one armed Civil War explorer of the Canyon.

We are three-quarters of a mile in the depths of the earth, and the great river shrinks into insignificance, as it dashes its angry waves against the walls and cliffs, that rise to the world above; they are but puny ripples, and we but pigmies, running up and down the sands, or lost among the boulders.

We have an unknown distance yet to runl an unknown river yet to explore. What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls rise over the river, we know not. Ah, well! we may conjecture many things. The men talk as cheerfully as ever; jests are bandied about freely this morning; but to me the cheer is somber and the jests are ghastly.

cimg1112Thus prepared and cameras at the ready, we looked up into the rock formation called “Odin’s Eye” for good luck (some of us twice!) and into the biggest rapids of the trip we went, with all hands getting doused, screaming, hollering, videoing and enjoying the ride. It was a quite excellent grand finale.

The campsite Walker had envisioned was taken, so we stopped on a long sandbar, where my brother and I took out cots out on the sandbar for a last night in the Canyon.

We were just finishing happy hour when, from one of the campsites just down river, a young man walks towards our camp. As it gets closer, we see in the fading sunlight that this guy is wearing pink slacks with an almost matching pink suit coat. When queried, he says “it’s costume night” and keeps walking up river. As far as away from civilization as we were, that was close to the last vision we expected to see. Convinced that the poor guy had lost a bet, when he finally returned from his walk, Ron gave him one of our precious Coors beers as a consolation prize.

It was obviously a good happy hour.

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1 Response

  1. I love your writing! Nice post Larry. It brings back fond memories!!!

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