Sunday, February 3, 2019



Morning - third day at Indian Dick camp. Everyone lines up for eggs, veggies and breakfast burritos and the menu would vary every day. Our outfitter was Arizona River Rafters and the crew, food and experience was top of the line. Our guides especially - top notch

Our guides & crew...Left to Right. Erica who besides being a strong rower with an expert touch was an artist. Great personality and really knew the subtle way of working the oars. Dave was the lead cargo guide. A funny guy and easy to hang with and draw. Erika was a powerful rower and very stoic and focused. Had our most dramatic moments with her at Bedrock Rapid.

Jimmy, our court jester of the trip. Had had a couple of decades rowing the Colorado and many other rivers. I think he knew every boulder and ripple of the river and could have rowed it blindfolded.

Kyle, who taught me the ins-and-outs of rowing. Worked me through how to read the river and waves, navigate around obstacles, use the best strategies in using the oars and pointing the boat. He is a photographer and a nice low-key guy.

Cassie, funny light-hearted woman who from a portrait artists view had a great face to draw. Great feature and smile framed by a big cowboy hat and long braids

Tom, the lead guide. No nonsense fellow that you could see was focused on making sure everything was in place and the trip was organized. Very much the captain of his "ship"

Dean talking to Erica's mother and father-in-law David over breakfast coffee. 

Before we broke down morning camp everyone made sandwiches for lunch after we had traveled down river for a few hours. We usually pulled the rafts over to some side canyon for a hike and a stretch of the legs. The menu never repeated itself and was delicious.

Breaking down camp. Everyone pitched in - guides, crew and clients - and passed kitchen and personal gear hand-to-hand down to the oar boats. Equipment was engineered to fit inside the boat, be light as possible, and be water-tight, and heavily strapped down, so just in case the boat flips everything (except the passengers) wont float away.

Guides stowing away all the gear in the early morning. Everyone concentrating on getting it done right and quickly as the sun broke the canyons edge.

Kyle following the tongue of the river on 24 Mile rapid.

Kyle oaring through beautifully calm reflective waters after 24 Mile rapid. The hardest part of drawing these scenes was watching the guides row, studying their bodies actions and then choosing the best "pose" to represent the moment

Eighty-Five percent of the trip was calm waters such as these. I would get lost in looking deep into the clear waters seeing the boulders deep under the boat and the reflections of the cliffs and skies. The water ripples would mix the red of the sandstone with the transparent blue water.

Dave rowing the gear boat being dwarfed by the huge over hanging red cliffs.

Kyle maneuvering close enough to the cliffs we could (and did) run our hands over the jagged sandstone. He had such control the oars didn't even scrape the wall

Around about Shinumo Wash the walls close in...and fly up above your head and you start to gauge the true scale of us in our little oar boats compared to the vast height of the Grand Canyon. 

One of the prettiest spots on the river. The light and colors just shimmered and glowed. 

Kyle standing and using large rowing strokes to run us up, and past Vasey's Paradise, a arch with a large cascading spring that gushes out of the canyon wall. There are ancient Anasazi ruins and artifacts at this bend of the river.

Don't know exactly were this was but we pulled up the rafts so take a little hike and I climbed the cliffs above the river to watch various other rafting companies float by and watch the cast shadows carpet the green Colorado. You step out in that sun and you get cooked 

Redwall Cavern, a huge and deep cave opening in the red sandstone walls. Hard to really gauge the vastness of this landmark from this picture

Kyle making a leisurely row through the river around Little Redwall. I must admit it but I really did have to focus on combining all the elements in getting these  4 X 11" compositions right as well as a good portraiture. The oar boats, even in calm waters, bounced all over the place making for a really shaky pencil line.

Mile 34 right below Redwall Cavern bend. we were so close you could "read" all the strata of layers of sandstone and the changing colors of the ancient deposited sand dunes that took place over millions of years before the Colorado cut through the exposed layers.

 Dont know the rapid but just know Kyle was having a blast running them. I was jumping around the oar boat trying to get action photos and wound up ankles-over-my-head, fell out and dumped into the river

Kyle and I would trade rowing duties and while I was working through some fairly easy class 3 rapids and lots of ripples he thought he would give a whack at drawing my portrait in action. Pretty nice job and it looks like he caught the panic in my eyes.

Kyle doing his "Vogue" moment while I take over the oars for awhile. 

Kyle cutting through the eddies in this long stretch of calm water in the is beautiful line of staggering high vertical sandstone walls around Nautiloid Creek. 

I took over rowing for a while and gave Kyle a break. In the calmer areas of the river it was easy to get caught in the fields of eddies that would cause the oar boats to just circulate in the current and not really get anywhere down stream.

A little "self portrait" drawing of myself rowing sketched out from watching Kyle row. Blocked in the action, boat and gear and then added in my body to the finished sketch.

Beautiful pinnacle near Redbud Alcove

Wonderous section of the canyon where there was only quite besides the swallows swooping in through the outcroppings and overhanging shelfs 

Beautiful sweeping wall just upstream from Buck Farm. At this point I remember rowing in circles through the essies just to be able to take in all the gigantic sandstone walls and elements swirling around us.

Kyle leisurely riffing down the river at about Mile 46. The solid giant walls of sand and limestone give way to jagged spires and talus fans falling into the river. 

Drifting around the wide bend at Eminence. A wonderous series of large curving of  slow water and riffles. I found it interesting how the guides would rotate the boats, bow, stern, even sideways into the rapids tongues to best maneuver. 

Our camp at Lower Saddle Canyon. A quiet little bend of the river. One of my favorite sand bar campsites where there was a deep and steep canyon with a cool stream ran out of and into the Colorado River

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