Congratulations to our Photography Contest Winners

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With gratitude to all the friends and guests who entered, we are proud to announce that Anton Foltin of Phoenix, AZ is the grand prize winner of the second annual Colorado River and Trail Expeditions photo contest! In addition, Libeth Saenger of Aachen, Germany swept all three people’s choice categories.

Anton’s winning image of Havasu Creek was taken during our 10-day photography workshop trip in the Grand Canyon in May of last year. Libeth captured her popular shots in August on our 12-day Alsek River expedition in Canada and Alaska. For their efforts, Anton will receive a complimentary 8-day Grand Canyon river trip this summer and Libeth will have her choice of our Utah trips. Cheers to our winners and their keen eye for photography!

Havasu Creek, 2015 Photo Contest Winner

Anton Foltin‘s 2015 grand prize-winning photograph. Late afternoon light plays on the blue water of Havasu Creek. Grand Canyon NP, AZ.

Next year, the winner could be YOU!

CRATE’s photo contest begins with our rafting seasons each April and is ongoing throughout the summer. Participants on our trips are encouraged to upload a total of ten of their favorite images to share at www.crateinc.com, and can specify six to be entered into our contest. We offer three categories in which our guests can showcase their talents – “Scenery”, “Guides and Guests”, and “The River” – as well as two ways to win.

The people’s choice winners are the most popular photos in each category. We track the ones that are shared the most and receive the greatest number of “likes” on social media. This year Libeth swept all three categories, but we have room for three photos and three winners here.

 Libeth Saenger’s winning photo in the “scenery” category. Sweeping vista of Lowell Glacier and Lowell Lake, with peaks of the Wrangell-St. Elias Range beyond, taken from the top of Goatherd Mountain. Alsek River, Yukon Territory, Canada.

Libeth Saenger’s winning photo in the “scenery” category. Sweeping vista of Lowell Glacier and Lowell Lake, with peaks of the Wrangell-St. Elias Range beyond, taken from the top of Goatherd Mountain. Alsek River, Yukon Territory, Canada.

The grand prize image is chosen from the total pool of entries by an expert in the realms of river running and photography. This year’s judge was landscape photographer Tom Till, who – in the name of full disclosure – is also my dad. As a professional photographer, he has spent the last 40 years photographing around the world but concentrating on the Southwestern US. During that time he has logged many hours on the river, both as a boatman and a photographer. His gallery in downtown Moab, UT and his website, http://www.tomtill.com, showcase his iconic images of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and Canyonlands, as well as images from around the globe. I can say, with only a hint of bias, that he really knows his stuff.

When asked why he chose Anton’s image, Tom said,

“Picking this photo was a tough decision. There were five or six in my final running and any of them could have won. I chose Anton’s for the emotional response it evokes. Many of the photos were very technically sound, so I tend to go with photos that are something I haven’t seen before or take new twist on the landscape. Also, very few pictures capture the true color of the water in Havasu as closely as this one does. The composition is nicely balanced, with a beautiful waterfall and the afternoon reflective light on the walls and in the creek. It’s very close to how I know Havasu to look in reality.”

We are currently finalizing the entry process and prizes for our 2015 photo contest so look for more information here, as well as on our website, about how you can participate this summer.

We want to see the canyon through the diverse and talented eyes of our guests, and share the images of the places we love with fellow river runners. Any and all photos that showcase the beauty, excitement, camaraderie, serenity and awe of a river trip are welcome. The more participants and images the better!

To see the remainder of Libeth’s winning photos along with the rest of the incredible entries we received in 2014, visit www.crateinc.com and click on the “photos” tab at the top of the page.

Flowers of the Canyon Country

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As the winter months bring snow and rain to the Canyon Country, the red desert sand becomes moist and fertile for the plants that find home here. With the warming spring temperatures, the landscape opens, bursting with colors to attract pollinators in hopes for reproduction. While some plants bloom consistently from year to year, others lay dormant waiting for abnormally wet seasons. Other opportunistic species bloom throughout the season, on a larger-than-seasonal cycle. Often times a strong monsoon season will find conditions prime for a fall bloom more spectacular than the spring. For those traveling downstream on a river trip, the following flowers might be spotted while drifting by on the boat or while hiking in side canyons.

Prince’s Plume

Stanleya pinnata MUSTARD FAMILY

Reaching heights of 4 feet tall, this yellow flowering plant blooms from the base up. Prince’s Plume thrives in soil rich in selenium, which gets transported by pollinating insects and can accumulate to toxic levels higher in the food chain. The Native Americans would mash up the roots to treat aches and pains.

IMG_2757One of my favorite places to see Prince’s Plume bloom is in Cataract Canyon camping at Little Bridge Canyon on high water trips. There, the top heavy blooms nod in the evening breeze on cool May nights.

Crimson Monkeyflower

Mimulus cardinalis SNAPDRAGON FAMILY

Usually found in shady side canyons next to springs or streams, the Monkeyflower blooms throughout the summer months. In Grand Canyon there are 7 different species closely related and nearly impossible to differentiate without the blooming flower.

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Some of the most spectacular places to see Crimson Monkeyflowers are found hiking to waterfalls in Grand Canyon. Hiking up Saddle Canyon and back to the narrowing V of the canyon, Monkeyflowers can be seen growing thick along the water’s edge. Thunder River falls is another place Monkeyflowers thrive, where the mist of the cascading water creates a moist environment even under the direct desert sun.

Golden Columbine

Aquilegia chrysantha BUTTERCUP FAMILY

Often found growing next to Crimson Monkeyflowers, Columbine grow in less dense populations in shady canyons next to water. Like Monkeyflowers, there are 7 similar species in Grand Canyon blooming with a variety of colors. Because the nectar is stored deep inside of the flower, its main pollinators are butterflies with long proboscises and hummingbirds. Bees with short proboscises will often bite through the flower to get to the nectar and avoid the task of pollination.

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Rounding the bend to the falls in Saddle Canyon, in the narrowest spot between canyon walls is where you can see 3 different species of Columbine bloom. In red, pink and yellow, the backward facing spurs stand tall to the sky, hoping for butterflies not bees.

Century Plant

Agave utahensis AGAVE FAMILY

Once thought to grow for a hundred years before blooming, botanists now know that the Century Plant blooms after 20-40 years before dying. Stems extending underground called rhizomes can clone the next generation next to the mother plant. The flowering stock can shoot up 15 feet into the sky, the climax after a long life in the desert.

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While hiking to the top of the Redwall layer of limestone through the Eminence Fault break from the eminence camp, Century Plants appear as candlesticks in the fading afternoon light. One Grand Canyon river trip participant informed me that the post-flowering stalk of the Century Plant makes a good walking stick because it is light in weight, rigid and strong.

Globemallow

Sphaeralcea grossulariifolia MALLOW FAMILY

Thriving after rainy seasons, Globemallow can be seen blooming both in spring and fall on talus slopes along the river. Seen in shades of reds and oranges, 10 different species of Globemallow can be seen in Grand Canyon. Because hybridization is common, differentiating between species can be difficult. Native Americans harvest the roots and make a sticky pulp in cold water to treat stomach pain and diarrhea. Globemallow can also be made into a tea that finds soothing effects.

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Driving to the put-in for Desolation Canyon in the spring feels like driving through an ocean of orange Globemallow blooms. Often opportunistic, Globemallow thrive within disturbed landscapes, lining the highways dissecting the desert Southwest. Hiking to the Doll’s House on a Cataract Canyon is a spectacular site to see globemallows bloom among other wildflowers.

Sacred Datura

Datura wrightii NIGHTSHADE FAMILY

Also called Moonflower, Sacred Datura blooms at night and tends to whither in direct sunlight. Because of heavy concentrations of toxic alkaloids found in the leaves, contact with the plant can cause fatal hallucinations. Hawk moths are the Datura’s main pollinator, and form a symbiotic relationship. Because of their extended proboscis, the Hawk moth can extract pollen from deep inside the flower. Hawk moth larvae feed on the alkaloid-rich leaves making them toxic to predators.

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One of my favorite places to see Sacred Datura is hiking through the winding narrows of 75 mile canyon above Nevills Rapid. The tall, vertical walls of Shinamu Quartzite provide enough shade to protect the flower from shriveling up throughout the day. Looking at the shapes formed by the Datura Flower, its impossible not to think about the artwork of Georgia O’Keeffe.

-Ben

Who can identify the following desert wildflowers? Feel free to post your answers in the comment section below.

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Source:

River and Desert Plants of the Grand Canyon. Kristin Huisinga, Lori Makarick, Kate Watters. Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2006.

Flash flood at Redbud.

IMG_2067The desert air darkened with thick clouds that moments before could not be seen through the walls of a canyon a mile deep. The August heat suddenly gone, shifting as fast as the moods of the people as fast as blackened pillows blocking the sun. In what normally is a peaceful part of the canyon began to feel threatening. The monsoon that would open up would last about 35 minutes, thoroughly soaking through every piece of clothing- rain jacket or not- where five miles upstream and downstream was as dry as the desert ever was.

Two distinct images remain poignant to me. The first when the people huddling under the draping drenched rain fly peeled their dripping heads away from the canvas and saw the thousand foot waterfalls pouring red mud off the rim and realized this might not be so bad.IMG_2070

As they emerged from their wounded tent pile they saw the unnaturally green river swirl red like blood taken from hundreds of sources along the vein, the Colorado River.IMG_2071
The second was when I walked away from the small beach camp called “Brower’s Bower”, named for David Brower who’s efforts in part prevented the Marble Canyon Dam that would have inundated this part of Grand Canyon, and walked into Red Bud Alcove. I had been here before when it looked like it usually does, an overhanging dry fall.IMG_1901

I crossed the stream and entered the short box canyon into a froth of thick moisture. The falls fell furiously, in some sort of hurry, and upon hitting the streambed pushed and rolled boulders toward the main artery. IMG_2066I could see that this was how rapids form. Inside the alcove the noise of the water intensified as the volume of water increased. Feeling the power of that place in that moment taught me the extremes of this canyon. IMG_2069Where thirty minutes prior the 115-degree temperature was sucking moisture out of my skin, now the water pounding my body felt like the verge of implosion.IMG_2068

And then it stopped. The rain first, the Arizona monsoon clouds empty. Then the water running together collecting the red sand down the slopes above and over the rim to the river, it slowed and stopped. All that red mud, changing the river to blood, went downstream like it has for six million years. Downstream. Back to green, the color of the water of the bottom of the reservoir named Powell. Time to cook burgers beans and brats for the hungry wet people.

10 Questions to ask when planning a Grand Canyon Rafting Expedition

Grand Canyon Rafting on the Colorado River

Left Side Run In Lava Falls

#1.  When is the best time to experience the Grand Canyon?

If the focus of ones trip is the rapids and the side canyons with waterfalls then go in June, July and August.   If hiking is important opt for May or April.  Honestly anytime of the year is fabulous.  Many people choose to go in September or October when it is a little cooler and it gets dark earlier.

#2.  Rowing, Paddle, Kayak, or Motor?

Some people prefer the larger motorized rafts while other prefer to be right next to the action in a paddle raft.  With the quiet modern motors used in the Grand Canyon the noise of the motor is not really a bother, but some folks prefer to here the silence and sounds of the canyon on a rowing trip.

#3.  How much time do you have?

If general to travel through the entire Grand Canyon one needs at least 8 days.  A rowing or paddle trip through the entire canyon will take 13 days or more.  There are also shorter trips available that only travel through parts of the canyon.

#4.  What are the different trip options available?

There are a lot of different trip options available.  The best thing to do is see the entire 278 miles of Grand Canyon National Park.  Another popular Grand Canyon rafting trip takes out at river mile 187 via helicopter take-out.  Other options available include hiking in or out at Phantom Ranch, and coming in via helicopter at Whitmore Wash.  These partial trips can be as little as a couple of days on the river.

#5.   How fit do I need to be?

Although living in the elements of the natural world can be tiring, it is not essential to be in great shape to participate in a rafting expedition.  If one has any questions about their ability it may be a good idea to try the Ranch and Raft trip and see if you like it before committing to a long period of time.

#6.  Do you want to do a trip with all of your friends?

It is popular in Grand Canyon to charter a commercial trip for ones friends and relatives.  If this is the direction you are thinking about it is important to plan at least a year ahead.  This is because one can not only organize and customize their trip, but also get a date that will work for them.  Charter trips require a minimum of 24 participants.

#7.   Is there a minimum age requirement?

Commercial companies have different requirements on this.  It seems that twelve years old is a universal age.   Twelve year olds can interact well with adults and are usually old enough to take care of themselves if they end up swimming in one of the many Grand Canyon rapids.

#8.   What is the camping like?

Colorado River & Trail Expeditions is a licensed concessionaire in Grand Canyon National Park.  They supply cots, sleeping bags, tents, and paco pads.  Their bathrooms are clean, hand washing before meals is required, and the meals are incredible .  Common meals include free-range chicken and eggs, natural beef and pork, wild caught fish and vegetarian options.  In other words the camping is deluxe if you are comfortable using a non-flush toilet and washing and bathing in the Colorado River.

#9.  Where do I want to hike?

Lets start by saying that the off-river hiking on a Grand Canyon rafting trip is as incredible as the river portion of the trip.  Hiking and exploring is a must.  Some of the best spots include the Nankoweep Granaries, swimming in the Little Colorado, the waterfalls at Elves Chasm, the geology of Blacktail Canyon, and Deer Creek falls.  One of the hikes intentionally left off the list is Havasu Canyon.  This is because it is overcrowded and dirtier than the rest of the Grand Canyon.  The place would be incredible if it was not so dirty.

#10.  What about the Whitewater?

When someone thinks about Grand Canyon rafting the first thing that comes to mind is the rapids.  Although the Grand Canyon has big rapids full of waves, whirlpools, holes, boils and rocks it is also kind with large recovery zones.  That said the river is still a class IV river and boats flip and accidents happen so it is important to feel comfortable swimming in big water and accepting the risks involved.

If you still have questions about rafting the Grand Canyon be sure to check out Colorado River & Trail Expeditions(www.crateinc.com) on the web or call them directly at 1-800-253-7328.

 

 

Announcing Availability on May Grand Canyon Multi-Sport Vacations

A photo from David Wille taken in the Lower Grand Canyon.

A photo from David Wille taken in the Lower Grand Canyon.

Colorado River & Trail Expeditions has announced availability on two May Grand Canyon Multi-Sport Vacations.  The trips are scheduled for May 10-12 and May 22-24, 2014 and are all-inclusive from Las Vegas, NV.  The trips includes two days of whitewater rafting and one day at a working ranch.  “May is one of the best times to take this particular trip,” commented 20 year Grand Canyon river guide Walker Mackay.

The Grand Canyon Multi-Sport Vacation includes all meals, camping gear, and transportation.  The trip begins with a scenic flight from Las Vegas to the Bar 10 ranch on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Ranch activities includes horseback riding, skeet shooting, and ATV rides.  Evening accommodations include the option to stay in a covered wagon.  While at the ranch guests are fed grass fed beef raised at the ranch.  Nightly entertainment includes a variety show put on by the working ranch hands and cowboys.

The second day of the trip starts with a helicopter ride from the rim of the Grand Canyon down to the Colorado River.  At the Colorado River participants are fitted with life jackets and given an orientation about safety and protecting the Grand Canyon.  The next two days are spent rafting the whitewater of the Colorado River, hiking, and enjoying the beautiful scenery.  Camping takes place on Cots along the river.  Participants are fed healthy meals riverside from the camp kitchen. Highlights of the rafting section of the trip include hiking to beautiful Travertine Grotto and running 232 mile rapid where it is believed the honeymoon couple of Glen and Bessie Hyde disappeared in 1928.

The trip ends with a Jet Boat ride from Separation Canyon, the point where three of John Wesley Powells men decided to leave the Powell Expedition of 1869, to Pearce Ferry.  Points of interest viewable from the Jet Boat include the Grand Canyon Skywalk and the Bat Caves.  At Pearce Ferry an air conditioned Van or Coach will be waiting to take participants back to Las Vegas.

Vacationers interested in learning more about Colorado River & Trail Expeditions’ Grand Canyon Multi-Sport Vacation can visit www.crateinc.com/raft-trips or call 1-800-253-7328.

Colorado River & Trail Expeditions, a leading outfitter in all-inclusive multi-day rafting trips, has been under original ownership since 1971.  They are a small, family owned business, with 20 employees who prides themselves in customer relations and introducing high quality wilderness experiences.  They operate in the Grand Canyon, Utah, and Alaska.

 

2013 High Flow Experiment Scheduled For November 11-16 in the Grand Canyon

The Department of the interior will conduct a high flow experimental release next week from Glen Canyon Dam.  This is consistent with the High-Flow Protocol and is related to the sediment input that has occurred below Glen Canyon Dam.  Those on our “Epic” September rowing trip through the Grand Canyon know the area received an incredible amount of precipitation with the Paria River and Little Colorado River bringing over 5000 cfs each into the system at one time during September.  Supposedly there is about three times  more sediment in the system this time compared to the last high flow experiment in 2012.

Water released for high flow experiment in 2012 from the Bureau of Reclamation

Water released for high flow experiment in 2012 from the Bureau of Reclamation

This management of the Dam is done to restore the beaches and habitat in the Grand Canyon.  The idea is to bring sediment up from the bottom of the river and deposit it on the sides in the form of beaches.  Before Glen Canyon Dam the Colorado River would flood every spring and leave behind huge amounts of sand as the water receded into summer and fall.  This would clear off the vegetation below the high water line and clean the sand on the beaches.  The hope of these high flow experiments is to recreate these conditions.  These conditions still happen naturally above Glen Canyon Dam in Canyonlands National Park and Cataract Canyon.

The real difference between the historic floods and these man made floods is the volume of water and length of time of the flood.  A natural spring flow in the Grand Canyon would regularly bring 80,000 to 125,000 cfs while the scheduled man made flood this time around is expected to peak at 37,200 cfs and last about 96 hours.  Another thing that puts a big damper on beach building is the loss of sediment in the Colorado River due to Glen Canyon Dam.  As Lake Powell slows the water of the Colorado River the sediment all drops out.  This is why below Glen Canyon Dam the water comes out clear and cold..,,

Our experience on the river has been incredibly beautiful beaches immediately after one of these flooding events.  Unfortunately as the season goes on the beaches tend to return to their original size or even smaller due to the fluctuating dam flows, monsoons, and natural weather conditions.  This loss of sediment is a huge problem and we commend those who have worked so hard to get this adaptive management in place.  As the population continues to rise in the southwest the demand on the water is increased every year we hope new solutions will continue to arise and the Grand Canyon as a resource will always be protected.

 

The South Rim and The Power House Building

The last couple of days we have been at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon for our annual Grand Canyon National Park Concession meetings.  It was good to see all of our fellow river outfitters and National Park personnel.  Time was spent reviewing our past season and what to expect for next year.  We always feel lucky to travel to the South Rim and peer down into the abyss of the Grand Canyon.  It is a spiritual experience and it reminds us of the exciting and fun times rafting along the Colorado River.

At the head of the Bright Angel Trail there is a new, very nice area complete with bathrooms to wait for fellow hikers.  The Kolb studio was showcasing some amazing paintings of the Grand Canyon many of which were for sale.  If you get to the rim definitely check out the artwork on display.  Other highlights included waking up to dusting of light snow and running along the rim of the Grand Canyon along the “Trail of Time.”

Another thing we got to check out was the “Power House” building.  There is talk to take this incredible old building, which used two Fairbanks-Morse continuous-duty Type D Diesel generators to supply power to the South Rim, and transform it into a museum for art or historic boats of the Grand Canyon.  The building has a lot of character with high ceilings and lots of windows.  The generators are still there as well as the power switches with their original labels:  Indian Garden Pump; El Tovar; Fire Pump; Bright Angel Lights and Power; USNPS; Train Yard; Turbine Cooling Tower; Power House.  On the other side of the building is the old Ice House where ice was made to supply the lodges and restaurants.  It will be exciting to see what becomes of the Power House over the next couple of years.

 

 

 

Paddling Guides for Dummies: How to Paddle a River Raft [Infographic]

Paddling a river raft is pretty challenging task for beginners as they have to work as a team to guide the raft down a river and through whitewater rapids. Paddling involves both skill and the ability to work with others as a team.

 

C.R.A.T.E., Colorado River and Trail Expeditions presents wonderful Infographic titled ‘Paddling Guides for Dummies: How to Paddle a River Raft’. It has been created to outline the basics of paddling for beginners. It adumbrates the common paddling techniques a rafter must be efficient at.

The Infographic reveals:

  • Names and visual guide of the different paddling techniques
  • The effect of each paddling technique
  • ‘How-to’ steps for paddlingPaddling Guide for Dummies Infographic by CRATEINC

Interesting Things You Need To Know About the Grand Canyon

 

Planning a vacation to Grand Canyon? Given below are some interesting things about this amazing year-round holiday destination. Increase your basic knowledge about this natural wonder and make the most of your holidays.

Grand Canyon Vacation

The Grand Canyon is full of beautiful waterfalls hidden in its side canyons.

 

  • The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and 18 miles wide
  • There are a lot of controversies related to the age of the Canyon. Earlier studies state that the Canyon is 5-6 million years old (“60-Million-Year Debate on Grand Canyon’s Age”. New York Times.)
  • A study published in journal Science in December 2012 revealed that the Grand Canyon could be as old as 70 Million years.
  • The Grand Canyon has amazing wildlife. It has approximately 70 species of mammals, 250 species of birds, and 25 different types of reptiles.
  • Of the various reptile species that are found in the park, the Grand Canyon Pink Rattlesnakes are quite interesting.  They have evolved in a way that their color is similar to the rock layers around them.
  • Although first afforded Federal protection in 1893 as a Forest Reserve and later as a National Monument, Grand Canyon did not achieve National Park status until 1919, three years after the creation of the National Park Service.
  • Grand Canyon National Park covers a total area of 1900 square miles and is roughly 277 river miles long
  • Archeological remains from the following culture groups are found in Grand Canyon National Park: Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Basketmaker, Ancestral Puebloan (Kayenta and Virgin branches), Cohonina, Cerbat, Pai, Southern Paiute, Zuni, Hopi, Navajo, and Euro-American

 

There are millions of facts and stories about the Grand Canyon. You can learn about them by reading books and researching online.  The information gathered can lead to a better understanding of the Grand Canyon and surrounding areas on your vacation.

 

 

 

Which Is The Best Time Of The Year To Go To The Grand Canyon?

Grand Canyon Vacation

The Grand Canyon is a great place for a vacation!

The Grand Canyon is a year round destination. Approximately 4 million tourists flock this amazing destination every year.

 

The park is heavily crowded during summer, spring, and fall months. If you wish to avoid the crowds and do not want to face any difficulty in finding lodging, you must plan your trip to the Grand Canyon between March and May or in between September and November. The sweet weather and fewer tourists would let you enjoy your Grand Canyon vacation thoroughly. Between September and November the park offers more facilities and trails, letting the tourists do lot of things.

 

Summer is not only the peak season in the park, with hordes of tourists and limited availability of lodging, the temperature often exceeds 38 degree Celsius. Unless you want to get burned, avoid going to the Canyon between June and August. If you plan to hike, summer is again not the best time to plan your vacation to Grand Canyon. Sunburn and dehydration would spoil the fun.

 

If you are an adventure seeker and are looking for the best white water rafting experience though, you must plan your Grand Canyon holiday between April and September. It is indeed the best time to raft the Grand Canyon. The water in the Glen Canyon Dam touches 48 degrees Fahrenheit, making splashing in the waters on hot summer days simply great.

 

For those looking for a quiet and peaceful holiday, the ideal time to visit the Canyon would be between December and February. But be prepared to experience the chilly weather. Pack lot of warm clothes to bear the frosty temperature. Winter trip to the canyon is simply unbelievable.

 

To make the most of your Grand Canyon holidays, decide what you want to do and then check the local weather conditions to ensure that the weather is ideal for enjoying the holidays the way you want to.