Thursday, May 3, 2018



Cassie cooking up some breakfast. We are 94 miles down the river.

Morning at Granite Rapid Camp. Its early May so its a bit chilly in the mornings and everyone bundles up a bit . I am riding with Erica F. as our lead guide down the "Gems' today. Of all the sections of rapids I remember these were the most enjoyable with miles of whitewater.

Scouting out Granite Rapids which we enter right after we push off from camp

Having gone through Granite Rapids this is looking upstream at all the other oar boats weaving their way down through the whitewater. I always like sketching from this position because it really projects the action of the moment

In a calm patch of water I would be either work up a good panorama drawing with a mixture of cliffs, sweeping skies, and occasionally the guides in action rowing their way through rapids or just treading water

Punching through Hermit Rapid (8/ 15 ft. drop). To get all the elements into the drawing I would look forward/back into the landscape and do the layout for the composition. Then block out the major ridges, boulders, water/rapids, and even the boat shapes and gesture in the guide and hope to capture the action. Then in the calmer waters I would finish up whoever was the subject with portrait and clothing and then finish off the geology and details.

Closing up to Boucher Rapid and the cliff rise up and little gnarly, twisted trees would grow out of the cracks in the boulders. When you are moving this fast the cliffs are drawn as distinct shapes with solid edges

Erica really digging into the frothy rapid water with those long oars to avoid get pulled into a pour-

over, where there is a huge boulder in the river course that  causes the rapid the build up and sometimes pull a boat into the void and capsize (we didn't)

Erica handling the oars after Boucher Rapids. 

During some slow patches of the river (85% of the Colorado River is fairly meandering with the occasional wiffle rapid)  its easier to draw everything and still get the subtle information as you drift along. I must admit you have to get use to the boat bobbing and swirling through the current. The pencil sort of "trampolines" on the paper. In the rapids you are stabbing your paper. 

Erica lining up for enter the "tongue" of Crystal Rapid. She had really good instincts about how to point the stem and stern of the oar boat  and when to just push the oars into the right rhythm. 

Heading into Crystal Rapid which is the start of the "gems" all named after precious stones. This was a very nice rapid with a good deal of roller coaster action and big whitewater "holes"

Drawing of Erica calmly plunging through Crystal Rapid . Being in the front of the boat my sketchbooks get really wet but this "HandBook" is built like a tank and frequently dries in minutes and is ready to go. 

Erica finishing off Crystal and waving off into a eddy. I dropped my sketchbook into the Colorado while in the rapid and had to dive into the river after it. It dried out fine.

Right around the bend from Willies Necktie Rapid

All the ripples, and upwelling eddies that ebb and flow in the slower sections of the river. They emerge from the riverbed and appear and merge with the others, large and small.

Erika B. and Jassik drifting along at about the 100 mile mark.

A couple of hundred yards from dropping into Agate Rapids. 

Going over the edge of Sapphire Rapids. This view is in back of the pack and with a close look you can see the bottom of a oar boat tipping up and dropping into the rapids tongue with the other boats lining up for their turn.

Erica (her parents are riding the bronco in the back of the boat) whipping the rapids on Sapphire. The ride is such a roller coaster that the boat frequently bucks up and much to the back of the boat sometimes disappears under the whitewater.

Erica once again in control in running Sapphire Rapids. I would have loved to add the passengers in the oar boats in these action drawings but there is just so much to take in and sketch in this small amount of time I just focus on the guides though it would be great to draw the excited expressions on the passengers faces

A little social get together in between rapids  after Sapphire Rapid . Looks worse than rush hour on the 405 freeway. At times like this we all shoot the breeze and talk about the history of the canyon, geology or even what fun is coming up around the rivers bend.

Sometimes the current would be tremendous and Erica would really have to plow through the whitewater to get in the tongue and mainline of the read-and-run rapids

Kyle and his crew meandering onto Turquoise Rapid. We are 10 days into the trip by this time.

The last of the "gems", Serpentine Rapid. This was a tremendously nice chain of rapids with really exciting roller coaster rides in a beautiful stretch of  colorful cliffs and boulders. 

I got a chance at the oars and rowed Emerald and Ruby Rapids, a couple of rated 5 whitewater  drops and pretty straight ahead with one of them giving us a pretty good high wave roller.

Soaking my toes in the cool clear waters of the Colorado at 110 Mile Camp. A very beautiful place with towering buttes and spires surrounding our sandbar beach where we spent a very pleasant night.

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