Rafting the Grand Canyon, Private River Permit Part 5

(14 miles) Stayed at Indian Dick 3/27/2019

We encountered our first actual rapid today. House Rock, a class 7 on that weird scale that is used for the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon section of the Colorado River, like several other big-water western rivers, uses a rapids scale developed by Otis R. Marston consisting of 1-10 for rapids, 10 being the most difficult. The International Scale of River Difficulty, which classifies rapids from class I to VI, is more common elsewhere in the US and internationally. Instead of trying to figure out the differences between the scales we just divided by two to get what we thought was an appropriate rating for the International Scale.

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House Rock is on a bend in the river where the current smashes against the left canyon wall. We pulled in at three separate spots to scout because of limited space in the eddies to prevent the possibility of getting washed downstream. This scout took some time for two reasons. The first being the farthest rafts had to cross over rock ledges to get to the closest rafts. The second because people were in different boats from their gear and the rafts were not all in the same eddies making it difficult to get what was needed. We ran this rapid in three groups of two with kayakers setting safety throughout the rapid. I stand on a rock outcropping above the river watching the first two waves of boats pull out and run the rapid. The 18 foot rafts look tiny as they pull away from the left wall and the more immediate obstacle, the huge holes scattered along it. I watch as one of the rafts gets tossed as it comes into contact with one of these holes. It makes it though as Jake, who kayaked ahead and was now standing on a boulder above this massive hydrolic, pumps his fist in the air. Slowly working my way over the slightly crumbling red and black ledge consisting of Supai sandstone, it’s now our turn. We pull into the current almost perpendicular to the ledges, C.J. gives us a double fist pump from his yellow raft that Kelly was keeping in the eddy from shore. The boat starting to angle down stream, pulling hard away from the wall as the current tries to take us towards the holes. We are fighting the flow of the Colorado River as it slowly pushes us left, the angle of the raft changed to square up to the approaching holes of the left shore. Now our raft is facing slightly left at a 11 o’clock angle as we hit the first wave. It was exhilarating to smash into this first huge wave and feel the water explode over the bow of the raft soaking everything only to hit the next two sequential water features before giving a hoot and fist pump to Jake as we passed. The stoke was high having smoothed the first actual rapid.

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Stopping at Indian Dick Camp for the night, we start setting up slowly learning the routine. The sunset was gorgeous! My head was moving fast at first then slowing between the up and down river scenery trying to take in two equally amazing views. Up river had the gold highlights as the last of the suns rays touched the top of the canyon walls. While downstream the sunset caused a pinkish hue, then it faded away to expose a silver river of stars in the canyon sky as the opposing swash of water is slowly consumed by the darkness.

Oz and I discussed how to tie and backup boats into the night, which would be needed later!

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