Rafting the Grand Canyon, Private River Permit Part 3

(9 miles) Stayed at Below Jackass 3/26/2019

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Have you ever seen a bag tossed from over 400 feet in the air? Me neither, I missed it but from the description the toss wasn’t hard enough. The bag didn’t clear the metal truss cleanly of the Navajo Bridge where it stalled almost to be lost to Ryan forever. Then it tumbled off, hit another part of the bridge, rebounded sending it plummeting again toward the river, where it then disappeared in the shrubs on a narrow sand bar on the edge of the canyon wall. I came into view of the situation to see multiple kayaks sprinting towards the sandbar and people on the bridge pointing towards where the bag had landed. “Dammit they actually threw it!” “Don’t worry.”, says Ryan “My mom asked the gift shop lady if any rangers were around before she had Dad throw it.” “My parents aren’t stupid.” Well especially your mom. (I could just imagine her saying “Here honey throw this just in case someone actually is watching.”) The kayakers recovered the bag after a short search and we were on our way to Below Jackass Camp where we will spend our first night in the CANYON!

If you have never been to the Navajo Bridge it is actually two bridges, one newer traffic bridge and the older which is now a pedestrian bridge. These two bridges combined are one of seven land crossings over the Colorado river for 750 miles.

The group stopped at Sixmile Camp for a short hike which was inaccurately but officially named Sevenmile Draw. We only pulled over to check it out based on the recommendation of a couple of the guys from Moenkopi, the outfitters where we rented our gear, that stopped by to party with us for a little while on the night before the ranger talk. This hike really set the expectations high for the rest of the trip! The draw ended at a huge dried up pool where in the rainy season I could imagine brown sediment laden water plummeting down into the pool from the rim of Sevenmile Draw. As I follow the thin line of rock worn smooth by the water, my eyes continue to be drawn upward passed the red and brown colored canyon rim into the sky where the narrow draw forms a mirror image of itself contrasting the white clouds and blue sky leaving me to stare at a river of clouds flowing down the canyon of the sky.

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We decide to scout Badger Creek Rapid a class 5 on the scale for western big-water rivers, which is based on a 1-10 scale as opposed to the 1-5 scale everyone else uses. If anyone knows why this is please explain it to me. I just divide by 2 to get an appropriate rating. According to my logic this makes Badger a class 2.5 which would normally not be scouted by this group, but since none of us really know what to expect and the book lists it as an area to scout we did. Finding our line easily, we run the rapid only to have one of many new learning experiences. The rapid went fine, but a boat missed the eddy for our proposed camp so we all follow and end up staying at Below Jackass Camp. Apparently with oar rigs you really need to pull not push your way down the river. As a kayaker and paddle raft guide all of my experience has been to point away from an obstacle and paddle (push). WIth an oar set up it is easier in most circumstances to point your boat towards the obstacle and row (pull) away from it. Typically an oar rig has more weight in the form of gear and less passangers to help produce power, therefore all your power comes from using your larger back muscles in conjunction with your arms (pulling) to produce more power going backwards then using your chest and arms (Push) to go forward. This pull vs push will be an ongoing theme for most of the group for a short time because the notion is so foreign to us and years of muscle memory is telling you to push. The next morning we will have our second learning experience.

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