Thursday, May 3, 2018



Tie up at Elves Chasm, a nice little walk up Royal Arch Creek takes you a refreshing little waterfall you can climb up and make mischief. 

Entrance to the canyon between these two limestone pillars

You walk up a quarter mile over a couple of steep smooth stone steps and follow the creek. You can hear the echo of the falls as you mosey up and sometime wade the pools.

Elves Chasm Falls. Anne is making the leap from the pocket and Erica B is swimming through the clear cold pool that flows out into the Colorado.

Jassik being Jassik he grabbed a bit of the fern grass and made himself an impromptu "mermaids wig" to match his temporary run-on chest tattoo. We paled around a lot and always seem to hang out and hike together.

Looking upstream from Elves tie up to the curtains of Travertine rock flows over the Tapeats Sandstone on the cliffs above the river. 

Starting down downstream from Elves towards Conquistador Aisle, a corridor of massive buttes and towers that hang over a straight section of the river.

Kyle resting and just lightly redirecting the boat as needs be. The current was fairly gentle and drawing Kyle was relatively easy in that whatever bobbling-and-weaving there was, was simple to deal with.

Drifting down between the walls of Conquistadors.

The corridor is about 5 miles long and a fairly slow float with long strokes of the oars as we approach Blacktail Canyon. 

Camp at Below Fossil sandbar at mile 126. A beautiful wide camp with a panoramic view of the cliffs and river. We tied up to stakes driven into the bluff. 

Jimmy cooking up some kind of something for dinner. Food with ARR was always great though I preferred breakfast with orange juice and coffee.

A pieced together view from above the bluff at the bend of the river. Old school photoshop cut-and-paste job but it does capture the grandeur and scale of just a small portion of the Grand Canyon. We had 230 miles of scenery like this. 

A 8 X 22" color pencil drawing done sitting on a boulder above the camp. A small thunderstorm front moved through in the late afternoon and made for a nice dark backdrop for the jagged edges of the cliff faces that were lit up by the last hour of sunlight 

Me up on top of the camp boulder sketching away on that panorama above and trying to use the last rays of light at sunset before the dinner bell. 

Breakfast in the morning. Everything organized as usual with the dishwashing gear lined up in a row. Rinse, hot wash, soap rinse, clean water so we wouldn't pollute each others dishes if one of were sick.

Picking up and packing up the oar boats for a morning send off. Getting warmer as the trip went along and the river water was losing its chill.

Heading down past Randy's Rock and 128 Mile Rapid through Middle Granite Gorge.

Taking over the oars today would be Erika B. A very strong rower (and our birthday girl about a week ago) who could push through more than a few obstacles. We would see her in action at the most unintended exciting moment of the trip at Bedrock Rapid a few miles from where this drawing was done. This sketch was done as Erika was dealing with Specter Rapid (rated 6/6 ft drop)

Bedrock Rapid. Obviously how it got its name. Its a tricky little run because the river splits as it plows into the boulders. The two dangers are you can get caught in the left side and wide up in a dead end eddy or do what we did... plow right into the rock face and wind up with the oar boat getting pushed vertically up on the boulder. I'm using someone else's photo.

Erica F. setting up to enter the rivers tongue to tackle Bedrock Rapid (rated 7/7ft drop)ahead of us.. This one was a lot more complicated that the normal read-and-run whitewater. I forgot if we scouted it ahead or just went for it. A series of drawings below almost reads as storyboards of the action that happened.

Erika charged into the tongue of Bedrock Rapid and was really pushing at the oars as the water crashed around us. I thought we were turning to the right down the main channel and calm water ...but no.

The whitewater got ahold of the oar boat and it turned and twisted sideways and the strong current started to push us up onto the boulders face. Erika was pulling like crazy but we got shoved up against the rock face and the rapid  did the rest. Next thing you hear is "Get up! or High Side!" and frankly I just fell into training mode at this point and climbed up to the top of the raft.

We all pulled the boat off the rock and did a curving slide back into the main rapid flow. Guide and crew tumbled back into the rafts bottom into a jumbled wet heap. Erika dove back into position and tried to grab the oars. We grabbed the bailing buckets and furiously went to work

Erika recovered and regained control and swung us into an eddy at the end of the whitewater. Needless to say I didn't sketch these out while the action was happening but I did grab my sketchbook immediately after everything was settled and did some quick gesture drawings of the action, people and gear to get it right. If you carefully look "through" the drawings you can see the pencil searching for the right images.

Another section of the river below Bedrock Rapid. Nothing more calming than running you hand through the ripples and watching the water reflections of the stone walls change shapes mixed with the blue sky.

a couple of miles down from Bedrock we tied up and hiked about a quarter mile up the canyon to Stone Creek falls a refreshing little shower. This is David, Erica F's father-in-law.

John and Mary. We ended up spending a lot of time together during the trip on the oar boats and on shore. We were frequently hiking buddies and dinner partners.

Erika B. at about Mile 135. A lot of the time I had to juggle elements in the single images. It became sort of a collage of rowers, boats, water and landscape. One 4X6" drawing had to do the work of an entire panorama shot.

Jimmy drifting into the Granite Narrows. I would always be sketching quickly because I was combining different viewpoints and geology to create a good narrative.

Into the center of the Granite Narrows. Once again the guides would row us as close the walls as possible so we could all look at the rock textures and various colors of the stone.

Softly floating down the narrow canyon with huge slabs of rock calving off and snapping into jagged overlapping blocks towering over the boats 

Another mid-river meeting of the minds where we would tie together the boats and snack and shoot the breeze.

Our group and another rafting crew tied up at the mouth of Deer Creek Falls. The riversides greenery is changing to more cactus and creosote bushes and the weather is getting warmer as we descend in elevation starts to look more "deserty"

Deer Creek Falls, an amazingly beautiful cascade only about a 100 yards from the river. It was very refreshing to get into the spray and cool off.

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