Friday, July 22, 2005 - Day 5 on the River

Last night's low was 84 degrees. When it rained briefly overnight, I was glad. I got up and secured my drybag, then I just laid back down and enjoyed the slight relief from the heat. There was a full moon last night, but you couldn't see it for the clouds. The canyon walls were nicely lit nonetheless. After a French toast breakfast, the guys set out lunch fixins. We were making our sandwiches in advance to maximize our time at Havasu Creek.

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An extra-hot a.m. and a slow spot in the river

It was a slow-water morning, just a handful of small rapids, until we reached Havasu, where Dave actually had to park the raft in a rapid. It's tricky pulling in here. If you make a mistake, you'll drift right by, and there's no making it back upstream for a second try. In fact, on a previous trip Brian's guide warmed them it was a possibility they might not make it. He was on a two-raft trip, and they had to throw a rope to one of the rafts and reel it in because they couldn't pull in under their own power. Good job, Dave! He made it look easy.

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Tie that boat up good - I'd hate to lose it!

Everyone gathered up their sandwiches, cameras, and a liter or two of drinking water, and we made a hot half-mile hike up Havasu Canyon to a series of pools where we could bodysurf some small falls from pool to pool or just laze around. There were a lot of other rafters here and also some people who had hiked in, but our group staked out a couple of pools just for ourselves. Havasu is a beautiful place. We didn't hike all the way to Havasu Falls, five more miles away, which was fine with me - it was just too hot of a day. I liked it where we were just fine. We spent about two hours here.

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Havasu Creek

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More Havasu Creek

Going over one of the small falls, Stine was stripped of one of her shoes and a sock. She managed to reclaim the shoe. It's a good thing, too. She would have really missed that shoe on the hike back to the raft across the hot, sharp rocks. The sock, however, was gone for good.

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We claim this pool in the name of Tour West!

There was one falls that Chris had gone over five times before a killjoy from Arizona Raft Company told him it was too dangerous and wouldn't let him do it again. Chris told Brian, and Brian told him to go ahead and do it anyway, but Chris didn't want to risk getting our guides in trouble. Jacob heard about the situation and therefore went over and ran the falls anyway, which made Chris even more mad. Then Cameron finally heard what was going on and led both boys over there and went down it with them. All emerged unscathed. Killjoy scolded Cameron for letting them do "such a dangerous thing," and Cameron told him off. Cameron said, "When you guide my boat, then you can tell my people what to do." Our hero! It turns out that the AZ Raft guy was just a trainee. What a doofus.

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An example of the small falls you can bodysurf

This afternoon was hotter than hell, and we passed through few rapids. Dave broke out a water cannon, which somehow quickly ended up in the hands of Jacob, and we all got cooled off. Dave had been harping the whole trip about dehydration, and I ended up getting overhydrated. Cameron was driving at the time, and I yelled back to ask for a pit stop. Unfortunately, he couldn't hear what I said over the motor, so Tom yelled back "pee stop!" Technically correct, yes, but that's not what I said. Anyway, it was appreciated by all.

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Apparently, we're working Russ way to hard

After the "pit stop," it was safe to bring out the drag bag. Ken, Angela, and Jenn are continuing on with the raft trip after the rest of us helicopter out tomorrow. We told them we'd leave them any beer we didn't drink, but we weren't planning to leave much.

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Vulcan's Anvil

Vulcan's Anvil signals the approach to Lava Falls. It is the core of an ancient volcano over a million years old. This was a down-and-in rapid. It seemed a lot shorter than Brian and I remembered. Cameron said we weren't imagining things, that it was the most changing rapid in the canyon. It was still fun. After Lava Falls, when we were all looking our best, Brian had Dotti use the end of his film to take a picture of our group of six.

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The whole gang, no worse for the wear

We camped around mile 182, five miles from the helicopter pad where we would be leaving in the morning. We were in Hell's Hollow, a very volcanic area. At this point we're all cut and scraped and battered and bruised, but it's been a heckuva trip. As soon as we made camp, it started to rain. It was windy and rained pretty hard for about a half hour. We all just stood around and got wet. What are you gonna do? Tour West brings tents if you want one, but by the time we would have gotten them set up, it would have stopped. And besides, it was way too warm to be in a tent. At least the rain wet the sand and kept it from blowing around.

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Hunkering down in the rain

Appetizers tonight included Chex Mix, mustard pretzels, and nuts - just like home. Dinner tonight was the best yet: steak, mushrooms and onions, salad, potatoes, and vanilla pudding. Delish! Jacob ate what I couldn't finish. Brian was worn down and was out early for once. Stine, Jacob, Tom, and I stayed up and talked late into the night.

 

Continue to Day 9

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