Day Four

August 29 - Sunday

6:10 AM
A good night's sleep

No rain, although we all thought that it would, including Bear. The only person who didn't was Gary, and no one would take up his bet that it wouldn't.

It was so warm last night that many people couldn't sleep and we congregated by the boat until 10 or so. When I finally did get to the tent, I went to sleep quickly. I slept well all night. Is it the tent or am I getting used to being outside? My sleep is definitely getting better for some reason - I slept right through daybreak and past 6.

7:45 AM
Waiting to load

Clothes to picture day reference:
Day 3 (yesterday): Gray hat, dark green Umbros
Day 4 (today): Camo hat, dark green Umbros

There are some gnawing flies that are a real pain, and a few gnats at this place. No insect repellant seems to work for the gnats. Breakfast was scrambled or over-easy eggs, ham, bagel, and melon. I made myself a hot cocoa and then a café mocha. Thought of Ali and her mornings.

12:45 PM
Lunch stop
MILE 119

We started this morning around 8 AM and by 9:30 we had been through quite a few decent rapids - Boucher, Crystal, Tuna Creek, Agate, Saphire, Turquoise, Ruby, Serpentine, and Bass. Crystal was the nicest of them, with us hitting one good hole, but in general all of them were full of roiling water that was interesting to watch and fun to plow through. I put my full rain gear on top and bottom for the first time all trip and it seemed to help some.

Genie spotted a beautiful bighorn sheep male on the side of the canyon. Mike is normally the wildlife spotter - he points out the animals that do appear. He saw a mule deer on the canyon side yesterday that was difficult to spot.

We took some pictures with Dad's cam that show the North Rim in the far background. It's one of the few times we will see the rim at all while we're down deep in the canyon on the water. In the pics, I'm in my full gear. (Here are a couple of pictures with the North Rim in the background - Dad in front and both of us in front.)

We stopped at Shinumo Canyon and took a short walk up to a small waterfall. The water was much warmer and cleaner and we all got in. The main chute of the waterfall was like a water cannon pounding down, and everyone took turns getting under it for a thorough shower. Dad and I took pix of one another under the shower. PIC

When we got back in, I asked Bear if I could sit in the back by him and got the OK. We talked about river running and he explained his strategy before we'd enter. We went through Shinumo, Hakatai, Waltenberg and Garnet. This was Genie's first long stay in the front. We stopped again at Elves Chasm.

(Some afternoon pictures by Dad: downstream with the Rim in the distance, some large rocks that tumbled into the river, some of the schist with the pink zoraster granite running through it, some schist with the next stratified layer on top and a typically beautiful sky, Douglas and I look up from the raft as we unload the raft, some greenery on the canyon walls, the lunch crew waiting to eat, and another beautiful panorama of the canyon.)

2:15 PM
Inside Blacktail Canyon
MILE 120
A 'siesta' stop

Bear took us into this canyon with the order not to talk, which was a super idea. We don't have a bunch of loudmouths, but six couples that do tend to use volume to get one another's attention. Bear said to bring a book and/or a pillow and take the time to relax. Hopefully everyone can. I have taken a spot by a very small (2') fall with just a little water running and I took a 3-pic series of my view down the canyon and above - this is a narrow canyon indeed.

Elves Chasm was neat - I had seen a picture of its waterfall in my river book and asked Bear about it beforehand. We had a moderate climb up to the falls which fell into a large pool. Gary and Mike swam out to where the falls fell and then climbed up a hole in the wall to end up behind the fall and about 10' up. They had pix taken and then before I knew it Gary had jumped down into the pool! Mike followed right after. Apparently it was plenty deep for that. Dad started across the pool for hit own pic to be taken but then Noreen offered to take one of both of us and I swam across, too. It really was deeper than I expected. Dad and I climbed up the hole - which was about four feet around at its smallest and had a mystic feeling with the amount of light and algae that surrounded us. We emerged behind the fall and had a picture taken. I took the dive (feet first) and then eventually Dad made his way down for a low-dive pic of his own. We hiked back down - we weren't cold at all thanks to the hot day - and soon after we stopped again for lunch.

I am truly relaxed right now. Normally we are either on the boat, eating, or making or breaking camp during daylight. When I get a chance to write I'm always in a hurry just to write down what we did. I don't get to reflect on it all very often. We're at the halfway point now, the afternoon of Day 4, and I believe Bear when he says that the last 4 days fly by. These first 3 have, for sure. Now was a good time to take a rest. And this little side canyon was a wonderful place to do it.

(Some pictures of Blacktail Canyon by Dad:a picture of me by a small fall, another shot of the narrow walls, a picture of dad at his perch (unfortunately with a drop of rain obscuring Dad), and a shot with Bear, Mike, Douglas, and me on our way out of Blacktail.)

What do I want to think and write about? Well, what do I want to remember later? I'll make a list:

  1. My emotions during the trip
  2. The way the system (eating, camping, riding, hiking) worked
  3. The people I've now met
  4. What I'd change for my next time through

I should mention that this canyon has a marvelous show of the Great Unconformity. It is right at eye-level for the most part. The dark Vishnu Schist (which I'm sitting on now) holds up the tan sandstone above it like an old stump holding sheets of plywood. The Schist has streaks of white quartz in veins that run almost up-and-down, while the sandstone strata are perfectly flat. It looks like a giant hand could remove the sandstone flake-by-giant-flake and leave the Vishnu exposed, the old and stately stone seeing the sun for the first time in 300 million years. The line between the two layers truly is a great oddity and had to be a mystery to man for ages.

Can I describe my emotions? That's never been easy for me. I will say how I feel - I feel stupefied, as my brain can't seem to grasp the great scale of everything around me. I would love too see more features whose size I knew (animals or people, perhaps) at different heights in the canyon so that I could better appreciate just how huge this place is and how far away even the nearby places are.

I think a lot about the age of the rocks and feel closer to the concept of eternity, and of the nature of a whole and a piece. What does that mean? These rocks that stare down at us here have been here so long - the length of time man has been here to see them is so very insignificant compared to the length of time they've seen one another. It is OK for rock falls to happen only once in a hundred years in one place, or for flash floods to move a few inches of dirt every so often, because if you have millions of years to be around, then you can lay back and take it easy. No hurry. No reason to get bored, either - the little things do change - bugs fly, birds nest, the water level changes, people come and go and come and go - so if you can enjoy these little things then the million years will be interesting as life is for me now. In a thousand years, look around a little and see what's changed. Nothing? Well, watch these ducks some more.

What about the whole and the part? Does the cliff feel sad when part of its face falls off into the river? Do rocks get upset when a flood blasts them away from where they've been ten thousand years? Each cliff is many rocks, each rock is many grains, each grain is many molecules. Just like us - humankind, the person, the molecule. Life moves us about beyond our control on our own little time scale, and maybe sometimes we should just enjoy the new scenery. It's less stressful that way, and maybe healthier for everyone around you, too. After all, it apparently is nature's way.

I've just now turned my pad over to write on the backs of these pages - I really never thought I'd need to do this, and I'll bet I end up filling this book entirely! No telling how long it'll take to type this in, which it seems I'll definitely have to do now that I've told most everyone that it'll go on the net. Right now I'd be surprised if I could get it on in good shape two months from now. Will everyone else still care about it then?

5:15 PM
4th Camp stop
MILE 122
Picture from this campsite and my sketch

- Dad and I took a hike -