Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ester Dome Singletrack

Finally, made it up the hill to the trails. Geoff Orth Joel Buth and crew have done a tremendous job on putting these trails (old map just showing the inner loop) in.

I managed to only do part of the outer loop and and returned via the high side of the inner loop. For this klutz there was plenty of challenge and the ol' heart rate monitor was singing like a chickadee in April. The smoke and haze from the fires near Healy occluded the view of the Alaska Range, but I could tell there are plenty of viewpoints to pause and catch a breath.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Grand Canyon - Day 7

Rattlesnake to Zoroaster -- 1 October
Lots of excitement in the morning after our 9:40 start. Dan rowed with me all day. In the morning there were a couple of sharp riffles then we arrived at Nevills Rapid. We managed to make the left run, somewhat under control, hitting one pour-over rock and avoiding a few others.
From Grand Canyon Day 7

We arrived at Hance at 1:00, Hance is still in the Proterozoic, a large fault occupied by a large basalt dike probably helps out the drop. We were backed up behind several trips on the scout, so got to watch several boats go through, saw a few ways NOT to run it, and some others with perfect runs. At this water level, Hance is probably one of the more technical rapids requiring several precise moves to work down a through what is essentially a big boulder garden. I tried making the downstream ferry into the "duck pond" at the top of the rapid, but got twisted around by laminar flow in the tongue and mostly missed the duck pond, but was still in pretty good position to miss most of the rocks and pour-overs, and get a good sideways look at the "whale rock" at the bottom of the rapid.
We passed through the Bass Limestone and Hotauto Conglomerate and into the Archean Vishnu schist and Zoroaster granite where we had a delayed feeding frenzy between brief thunderstorms.
From Grand Canyon Day 7

After lunch there was Sockdolager, Grapevine, and 83-mile rapid before we tucked in at Zoraster camp, and active eddy and nice beach next to a noisy riffle. Despite the riffle we could hear the Montana trip partying it up into the evening with a pretty big bonfire at the camp just above us.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Grand Canyon -- Day 6

September 30 -- Into the Precambrian
After a quick float from camp we eddied and explored the mouth of the Little Colorado which was muddy from the storm that hit northern Arizona a couple of days before we started the trip. In Andy's blog he speculates about the water level, this chart shows that Andy's estimate was just about right:
From Grand Canyon Storm

I clambered around on the bluff between the confluence, a classic shelving outcrop of Tapeats Sandstone, poorly sorted and lots of cross bedding. At point on the bluff there was a large ring and a big bolt to tie off boats, this ring must predate the dam, as it is quite a way above the river. Others played in the mud and watched the mixing of muddy and clear water.
From Grand Canyon Day 6

After the LCR confluence the riffle at Crash canyon was pretty exciting at this water level, the Grabner flipped, Marshall and I made the eddy and tried to help corral swimmers and boat but think that we hindered the self rescue more than we helped. The eddy was very active and unpredictable.
After that we crossed the "Great Unconformity" and the Canyon opened up.

From Grand Canyon Day 6

For the rest of the day we kept company with ruddy rocks of the Dox Sandtone and could see much of the rest of the Unkar Group around us after we crossed the Temple Butte Fault at Carbon Creek.
From Grand Canyon Day 6
Lots of active riffles in this part of the river and sharing the oars with Marshall made for fun rowing. Tanner Rapid was pretty easy and had a great exposure of a fault contact between the Dox Formation and the Cardenas Lava.
From Grand Canyon Day 6

After lunch we took a hike (map form Dan's blog) to some hilltop ruins and an overlook of the Unkar Rapids and Unkar Delta where there are ruins of an Anasazi agricultural settlement.

From Grand Canyon Day 6
At the overlook of Unkar Rapid and later at the gravel bar on the rapid there was much gnashing of teeth, discussing of routes, holes, rocks, and so on. It looked really intimidating without many options for an easy run. This was our first real major rapid since House Rock some of us were a little jittery. The kayakers and one raft took a bony right sneak, while the other three rafts took the center of the main tongue but powering to right...a fairly dry and uneventful run.
That night we camped at Rattlesnake, a nice spot, shelving sandy platforms on Proterozoic sandstone. Tomorrow will be exciting! We'll drop into Granite Gorge, the Archean heart of the canyon, and first day of multiple big rapids. YeeHA!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Grand Canyon -- Day 5

September 29 -- Nankoweap Granaries
From Grand Canyon Day 5

An early start this morning; 8:30!!! Even with a hearty blueberry pancake, egg & bacon breakfast, what kudos to the breakfast crew!
We floated down through long straight stretches as the river cut through the soft Muav Limestone and into the Hermit Shale. We encountered several small riflles. Really nice play waves at about 48.5 mile or so. This stretch has classic Grand Canyon scenery; isolated buttes and monuments appearing as the canyon opens up below Marble Gorge and the steep walls of the Redwall Limestone.
From Grand Canyon Day 5

Nankoweap rapids were fun, pretty much as described in the guidebooks. We stopped in a big eddy right at the foot of Nankoweap Rapids to have lunch and walk up to the Nankoweap granaries. What an iconic spot with down river views of the canyon and the emerald water of the river. The granaries are right at the base of the Redwall limestone and the top of the Muav. Here the Muav has knobby weathering suggesting that there may have been current or wave ripples in the thinly bedded limestone. The cold water of the river in the eddy helped with overheating before and after the hike. We had another great lunch buffet under the beach umbrellas!
From Grand Canyon Day 5
From Grand Canyon Day 5

Several Rapids and riffles in the afternoon. Kwangunt Rapid was accurately described in the guidebooks. However, other rapids and riffles in this section had some short sharp drops through chutes that lead into surprising tailwaves and sharp pulsating eddylines on either side. These hydraulics led to a few swims including Tim and Marshal in the Grabner at 60-Mile Rapid, Dan in a riffle below 60-mile and Dan and Erin at 60.5 mile.

For those of us that didn't swim in the river above the camp at Above Little Colorado afforded some very nice private bathing pools. The pull-in here is tight for four rafts, but the shelving camp of sand banks formed on the Tapeats Sandstone provided lots of room. Carp in the eddy here must have chased out all the trout...big fish, but no one wanted to eat them.

Marshal and Jim turned out a wonderful pasta topped with an itallian sausage and veggie saute!
From Grand Canyon Day 6

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Grand Canyon -- Day 4

28 September -- Shinumo Wash and Redwall Cavern

A group of us set off to go up Shinumo Wash,/Siver Grotto. Actually the suffered attrition as we saw the conditions of muddy pools to swim and difficult scrambling. The attrition included me as I was was gripped by the exposure and risk. Eventually Sam climbed up on a wide ledge above the mouth of the side canyon and found a bolt that allowed a rappel down into the water-carved gulch. Initially, I was uncertain about the rappel, as Sam had not explained that the the rappel off a well anchored bolt. When I retrieved the throw-rope that was used for the rappel I saw the bolt and was assured of Sam's good judgment. By this time I had already committed to going back to the camp.
From Grand Canyon Day 4

After we all got back to camp and got packed up we rowed on down through the flat water to Redwall Cavern, a spectacular and iconic spot that was already occupied by the private group from Montana who were hitting the beer and the weed hard at 11:00 AM. Eventually we had the place to ourselves. Dan S. (and I) became entranced by the wave interference patterns resulting from sunlight passing through ripples on the surface of the shallow water playing on the sand ripples on the bottom of the eddy. The videos will be on a Physics lecture coming soon. At this point my camera was begining to suffer from my inability to recharge the battery using the untested setup I had purchased just before the trip.

This is an incredible section of the river that deeply carved into vertical cliffs of the Redwall Limestone. After the Cavern, the river was flowing through the Muav Limestone, so the rapids had mellowed out, but the cliffs remain. There was an abundance of solution cavities in theis section of the river, most of the side canyons such as Buck Ranch Canyon, Red Bud Alcove and especially an alcove just above Red Bud actually look more like collapsed caverns rather than gulches created by head-ward erosion of surface water.
From Grand Canyon Day 4

Michael and I shared rowing today, it was great to have his company and helped in this mostly flat water. However there were a lot of riffles with nice surfing waves and he lamented that none of the kayakers were taking advantage of them.
From Grand Canyon Day 4

36-Mile rapid was very wavy and fun. President Harding rapid was just as described in the guide books. Eminence Camp looks like a great place for a future camp. We ended up at Saddle Canyon, the upper pull-in was no good, we used the lower pull-in. Scott and Dan provided a lot of trout for dinner.

We were all starting to feel the rub of too-well used Paco pads provided by Moenkopi...we started the nightly musical pad routine, trying to snatch a better pad than we had used the night before. This is where we might have started to recognized the significance of the Purple Princess Pad ( a wider, almost new Paco pad that actually held air and was not water logged). We also started coveting Max's super thick yellow pad that he had brought from home.