During our third and last week in the Grand Canyon, we traveled from Bass Camp to Pearce Ferry, the take out. We celebrated two birthdays, as well as Thanksgiving, and enjoyed many short side hikes up awesome canyons large and small. The high-flow experiment ended, the eddies calmed down, and the water returned to a clear bluish green. While we had run the majority of the famous rapids, we still had several smaller rapids to run, as well as the infamous Lava Falls. We had no more raft flips, but DKatz flipped the ducky in Lava. All but two rafts ran right at Bedrock, despite numerous warnings from Sparky at the beginning of the trip.
We hiked up several side canyons, all were beautiful in vastly different ways. Elves Chasm had a beautiful waterfall and felt like a fairy-tale land, Matkatamiba was a narrow, gray slot canyon with a little bit of water running through it. Black Tail provided beautiful acoustics for me to sing Rufus Wainwright’s Hallelujah on a short morning solo hike. King of them all, though, was Havasu Canyon. Like the Little Colorado River, the waters of the creek that runs through Havasu are travertine, creating an incredibly beautiful bright turquoise color. If I had to pick a favorite place in the Canyon, this might be it. We spent the majority of the day in Havasu, hiking as far up as we could. About 3 miles from the river, there are a series of short waterfalls called the Beaver Falls. About 6 miles from the river is a 100 foot cascading waterfall called Mooney Falls. Just before you get to Beaver Falls, you cross the boundary from the National Park into the Havasupai Indian Nation. Everything immediately changes; there are picnic tables, roughly hewn wooden signs pointing out the falls, and slightly sketchy wooden ladders and fraying ropes aiding you up and down steep terrain. Zak and I arrived at Beaver Falls with 2 other group members, Ed & Katy. Only Jeff made it to Mooney Falls in the time frame we had (he was practically running when he passed us). I was satisfied to make it to Beaver, as it was such a beautiful place to explore. Havasu is a can’t miss place if you’re ever lucky enough to get to travel down the Grand.
The series of rapids in the 226-240 mile section of river were all really fun. One group member wanted to kayak that day and was kind enough to trust me to row his boat. That was one of the highlights of the trip for me, getting to row a boat through these fun and challenging rapids with only a passenger who didn’t know anything about maneuvering an oar rig. I had pretty good lines through most of the rapids, and it helped boost my confidence. I even got to row Killer Fang Falls, a large, scouted rapid. This rapid is really easy to flip in, as all the water pushes strongly right toward two large, sharp rocks. Flipping was something I narrowly avoided (I ‘kissed’ the fangs, which is typically an inevitable flip).
We celebrated Thanksgiving with the works! Zak, Katy and I cooked turkey, mashed potatoes (from real potatoes!), stuffing, green beans and Katy’s famous dutch apple pie. It was delicious and much better than I would have expected to have on the river.
The last day on the river we floated through Helicopter Alley, a stark reminder of the real world that was all too quickly approaching. The trip had come to an end much more quickly than I had ever imagined. Was it the best trip ever? In some ways, yes. In other ways, no. Did I have an amazing time? Most of the time, yes. Like I said in the first post about this trip, it is nearly impossible to capture the Canyon in words and photos. It is challenging to describe the experience to someone who hasn’t also been on a trip. My advice: go on a trip, do it now, you won’t regret it. The Grand Canyon is, after all, one of the great Natural Wonders of the World and its right here, in our very own country. It would be a shame to miss out.