Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Grand

I'm not sure I can even explain how much I loved our 16 days rafting the Grand Canyon, but I'm going to try.

I loved the boats.

I loved rigging them, and strapping things down. "Rigging to flip" means that you should be able to turn the boat upside down and shake it and nothing would fall off. I loved carrying everything we needed on them, rigged to flip. I loved the feel of pushing off for the day with adventure ahead. I loved balancing with my bare feet on the side tubes as I got ready to jump off and tie us up when we came into camp.  I loved the look of them, headed through the canyon, peaceful but exciting all at the same time. One night I even slept on the boat, and it was good.

I loved the water.
Stockdolager Rapid

I loved hearing it constantly, day and night. One evening I waited until the full moon rose then found a place to strip down and wash my hair. Cold water, warm air, full was exquisite. Most of the time there was a current but the water was smooth. But on big rapid days you would hear the roar, sometimes from 1-2 miles ahead, and the anticipation would start to build. When we were just above the whitewater we'd pull over and climb up to scout the best line. Serious, serious discussions would take place because this water was big enough to flip a boat and that's a disaster. I loved the discussions, because...

I love the lingo. Where you or I might just see a bunch of water, real river runners see ledge holes, keeper holes, lateral waves, sleeper rocks, hydraulics, eddies, circulating eddies, eddy lines, haystacks, v-waves, bubble lines, strainers, pour overs, and flip rocks. There are tongues and chutes, rock gardens and cheese graters. A typical analysis of a rapid might go like this: "I'm going to ride the bubble line down the tongue right of that ledge hole, bow pivot to T up with those laterals, pull hard through the right side of that V wave and then hope I can stay off that cheese grater into the haystacks at the bottom. If not we could get maytagged and there might be a fire sale." I would squint at the river and nod. I loved squinting and nodding.

Here is a video of running Lava rapid, "the most intense 8 seconds of water in the Grand Canyon." It's not us in the video, but I was sitting where the camera is, so it brings back great memories, although I couldn't have told you what was going on.

I loved the river, but I also loved the side canyons.
Silver Grotto in Shinumo Wash

When I heard we'd be hiking every day, my heart sunk. Grand Canyon hiking sounded miserable- hot and steep and exposed. I had no idea about the little slot side canyons. Oooh...when you say 'hiking,' what you actually mean is swimming through narrow pools and scrambling up waterfalls! That's the best kind of hiking in the world! Besides, it's a great team building exercise, and...

I loved the group dynamics of the whole thing:
Helping Joann make the climb.

My first impression of the group was a couple of kids, some Outside magazine poster boys, some old people, and us. But the old people free solo climbed 50ft waterfalls and took the inflatable kayak through Class IX rapids, not to mention that Joann (as pictured above) was the best boatman on the trip. The poster boys and the kids turned out to be mellow and hilarious, and by day 2-3 we were tight. After 16 days of isolation and adventure and inside jokes they seemed like the whole world to me.

But now that I remember the rest of you, it seems like the only way this trip could have been better would be to have you guys on it. River trip, anyone?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

This is why some kids think their parents are idiots-

This morning, I was getting ready for work, and Hal was playing in the front room.

As I walked by the door, I saw him moving his hand around, making the sound of a train whistle-

Hal- "Whoo-whooooo!"

Me- "Oh, is that a train?"

Hal- "No, it's my hand."

Oh. Right.