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.

 

Fall Grand Canyon Rafting Project-Painting Side Tubes

After the Grand Canyon rafting season ends it is time to start preparing for next April.  One of the projects that we undertake is the maintenance on our side tubes.  This entails fixing any problems and painting the tubes.  We do this work In Fredonia, AZ aka the “Center of the Universe.”

fall rafting projects

The Side Tubes for Grand Canyon Rafting

The first step is to take the tubes out of the warehouse and inflate them outside of our building.  Once the tubes are inflated we check to see if any of the tubes are leaking air or need rubber work.  Then we fix any and all problems by sanding and glueing patches back onto the tubes.  It is amazing how well these tubes hold up.  They are built incredibly well.  Most of our sidetubes were built by the Uniroyal Tire company.  The biggest problem this year seemed to be the grommet patch on the front of the nose of the tube that we lace to our raft and use as a step for our whitewater rafting guests.  Some of the grommets had been pulled out by the incredible force that is placed on these grommets as large waves hit and try to separate the sidetube from the raft.

After the patching and glueing was done it was time to start sanding the old loose paint off of the tubes.  This is a time consuming task but sometimes it is nice to do a project that you don’t have to think about too much and can just let your mind wander.  Once the tubes are  sanded down we have to mask them so we don’t get paint on the places we don’t want.  Then it is time for the painting.  This is the best part of the project.

Painting the side tubes goes quickly and it is great to see how good the tubes look.

Kayaking the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Kayaking

Grand Canyon Kayaking

The first person to kayak the Grand Canyon was Alexander Zee Grant in 1941. There are photos of Grant’s boat at http://www.gcrivermuseum.org/river-heritage/the-boats/escalante/ Currently the Grand Canyon Heritage Coalition is gathering money to help fund a river history museum at Grand Canyon National Park. The museum will put on display all of the historic boats. The webpage has a lot of great information. The following Paragraph is taken directly from the Grand Canyon Heritage Coalition Website:

“Grant, in preparation, worked with Jack Kissner to produce a custom “sixteen-and-a-half foot, folding, rubber-covered battleship,” with “bulbous ends carved from balsa wood, and huge sausage-like sponsons along the sides, made from inner tubes of Fifth Avenue bus tires.” For added buoyancy he crammed in eight additional inner tubes and five beach balls. He named it the Escalante. Grant kayaked every rapid except Hermit and Lava Falls. In 1960 Walter Kirschbaum became the first person to paddle a rigid kayak through Grand Canyon, as well as the first to kayak every rapid without portage.”

Now to answer some common questions about kayaking in the Grand Canyon:

Why kayaking the grand canyon is such a special experience?

The Grand Canyon is the greatest place on Earth, and there is no better way to see it than via the Colorado River. The Colorado River winds 278 miles through the Grand Canyon. Along its way the river encounters over 150 named rapids, over 100 great off-river hiking opportunities, and at its deepest point you are about a mile deep in the gorge, surrounded by Vishu Schist rock that is almost 2 billion years old. Kayaking along the way is the icing on the cake. The river averages a drop of only 8 feet per mile, but 90% of that drop is in the rapids. This makes for big whitewater with nice recovery zones. Waves routinely reach 10-15 feet high and in Hermit, Granite, Crystal, Sockdolager, and Lava Falls they get even bigger. Everything about being right next to the water in a kayak is special. One of my fondest memories of kayaking in the Grand Canyon was running the last 10 miles of rapids solo. I just remember the sun glaring off the water before each rapid and having Johnny Cash songs spinning through my head, especially “Down, Down, Down into a burning ring of fire.” The whitewater is just part of the experience though, the camping, off-river hiking, and companionship of those on the river really add to the trip. I work for Colorado River & Trail Expeditions(www.crateinc.com), and we make a point of making the most of each day by getting up early and taking as many off-river hikes as possible. The other things that are great about the Grand Canyon is that it doesn’t have bugs and mosquitoes, it has an ideal climate for kayaking because the weather is typically hot and dry, and if you get hot, you can always take a dip in the cold 50 degree water. Camping along the river is luxurious, we bring cots for our guests, getting them off of the sand and away from the bugs. The night sky is another great thing about any Grand Canyon trip. The area is relatively free of light pollution and looking at the stars, moon, planets, and meteors from this amazing place is definitely a special experience. Through 10×50 binoculars you can see the Andromeda Galaxy which is a spiral galaxy about 2.5 million light-years from earth. During full moons you can see your shadow and I sometimes lead full moon hikes, taking in the night view and seeing animals you may not see during the day.

The best part of Kayaking the Grand Canyon?

It has to be facing Lava Falls rapid which is the biggest rapid on the Colorado River. Right before the rapid you can look up and see a small window on river right in the Basalt called the “eye of oden.” It is good luck to look at the eye. Then you are in the rapid. In a 37′ Motorized raft the rapid is exhilarating, in a kayak it is beyond words. The route one takes depends on water level. The right side generally gives the bigger ride, but many people who decide to run left lose their bearing and go straight into the “Ledge Hole.” On my last Grand Canyon trip this year we were eating lunch below the behemoth rapid when suddenly two 18′ Oar boats floated by us with their aluminum frames ripped off by flipping in the Ledge Hole. If you are running right you have to make it past the “Ledge Hole”, through the “v-wave”, stay off the “Black Rock” and survive the “Tail Waves.” If you run left you have to not lose your bearing on where the “Ledge Hole” is and make it past the “Chub Hole.”

And what sort of skill level you’d need to have – is there anyway a beginner could do it?

The Colorado River is a big volume river with gigantic waves and huge holes, but it has great recovery zones, and it is not really technical. Most of the rapids in Grand Canyon would be rated class III and Class IV with Lava Falls and Crystal possibly becoming class V at certain water levels. The first time I kayaked the entire Colorado through the Grand Canyon I did not have a lot of river experience, but I spent time in the pool perfecting my Eskimo roll until I could do a “Beer Roll.” A beer roll is where you roll over in your kayak without a paddle. You take an unopened beer or soda over with you. While you are upside down you open the can with one of your hands then slide it across the upside down kayak to the other hand. Then you roll the kayak without spilling your drink and enjoy your prize when you come upright. The Eskimo roll turned out to be very important on that first kayak run through Grand Canyon. I never swam, but I rolled the kayak multiple times in many of the rapids.

This article was written by Walker Mackay, a guide at Colorado River & Trail Expeditions

“The Cataract of Lodore” a poem by Robert Southey

What Andy Hall and JW Powell Saw in 1869

Green River in Lodore Canyon

When the First Powell Expedition reached the end of Brown’s Park on the Green River they came to a deep canyon with swiftwater and rapids. It reminded Andy Hall of a poem named “The Cataract of Lodore.” John Wesley Powell knew the poem by heart and recited it. The expedition decided to name the canyon after the poem, and the name stuck. The canyon is located on the Green River above Desolation Canyon. The canyon was home to the first real rapids that Powell and his men encountered, and they lost one boat in Disaster Falls. The poem was written in 1820.

The Cataract of Lodore by William Southey(written in 1820)

“How does the water
Come down at Lodore?”
My little boy asked me
Thus, once on a time;
And moreover he tasked me
To tell him in rhyme.
Anon, at the word,
There first came one daughter,
And then came another,
To second and third
The request of their brother,
And to hear how the water
Comes down at Lodore,
With its rush and its roar,
As many a time
They had seen it before.
So I told them in rhyme,
For of rhymes I had store;
And ’twas in my vocation
For their recreation
That so I should sing;
Because I was Laureate
To them and the King.

From its sources which well
In the tarn on the fell;
From its fountains
In the mountains,
Its rills and its gills;
Through moss and through brake,
It runs and it creeps
For a while, till it sleeps
In its own little lake.
And thence at departing,
Awakening and starting,
It runs through the reeds,
And away it proceeds,
Through meadow and glade,
In sun and in shade,
And through the wood-shelter,
Among crags in its flurry,
Helter-skelter,
Hurry-skurry.
Here it comes sparkling,
And there it lies darkling;
Now smoking and frothing
Its tumult and wrath in,
Till, in this rapid race
On which it is bent,
It reaches the place
Of its steep descent.

The cataract strong
Then plunges along,
Striking and raging
As if a war waging
Its caverns and rocks among;
Rising and leaping,
Sinking and creeping,
Swelling and sweeping,
Showering and springing,
Flying and flinging,
Writhing and ringing,
Eddying and whisking,
Spouting and frisking,
Turning and twisting,
Around and around
With endless rebound:
Smiting and fighting,
A sight to delight in;
Confounding, astounding,
Dizzying and deafening the ear with its sound.

Collecting, projecting,
Receding and speeding,
And shocking and rocking,
And darting and parting,
And threading and spreading,
And whizzing and hissing,
And dripping and skipping,
And hitting and splitting,
And shining and twining,
And rattling and battling,
And shaking and quaking,
And pouring and roaring,
And waving and raving,
And tossing and crossing,
And flowing and going,
And running and stunning,
And foaming and roaming,
And dinning and spinning,
And dropping and hopping,
And working and jerking,
And guggling and struggling,
And heaving and cleaving,
And moaning and groaning;

And glittering and frittering,
And gathering and feathering,
And whitening and brightening,
And quivering and shivering,
And hurrying and skurrying,
And thundering and floundering;

Dividing and gliding and sliding,
And falling and brawling and sprawling,
And driving and riving and striving,
And sprinkling and twinkling and wrinkling,
And sounding and bounding and rounding,
And bubbling and troubling and doubling,
And grumbling and rumbling and tumbling,
And clattering and battering and shattering;

Retreating and beating and meeting and sheeting,
Delaying and straying and playing and spraying,
Advancing and prancing and glancing and dancing,
Recoiling, turmoiling and toiling and boiling,
And gleaming and streaming and steaming and beaming,
And rushing and flushing and brushing and gushing,
And flapping and rapping and clapping and slapping,
And curling and whirling and purling and twirling,
And thumping and plumping and bumping and jumping,
And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing;
And so never ending, but always descending,
Sounds and motions for ever and ever are blending
All at once and all o’er, with a mighty uproar, -
And this way the water comes down at Lodore.

There’s This River: Grand Canyon Boatman Stories

Grand Canyon Boatman Stories

Grand Canyon Boatman Stories

FEATURED BOOK OF THE WEEK:

THERE’S THIS RIVER – Grand Canyon Boatman Stories
edited by Christa Sadler $17.95

Boatmen always have a story to tell. You’ll hear many of them on your river trip. In the book, you can read many more. It’s a fun and enjoyable anthology by people who love the Grand Canyon up close and personal.

You can order this book on our Books For River Runners Website. Or just give us a call at (800)253-7328.

George Y. Bradley’s Story of the Fire on the First Powell Expedition

RIVER STORY OF THE WEEK:
FROM THE JOURNAL OF GEORGE Y. BRADLEY JUNE 17, 1869

Green River

Green River Story


On June 17, 1869, according to Bradley’s journal, the First Powell Expedition was camped in Lodore Canyon about 25 miles above the confluence with the Yampa River. After a hard day of portages and rapids the boats were leaking badly. The group camped in a thicket of pines where they could gather some pitch to repair their boats. Here is Bradley’s account of what happened next:



“We camped for this night on a little point where the mountain pine and sage-brush
was very thick and the cook built his fire and had supper on the way when the fire
spread to the pines. At first we took little notice of it but soon a whirlwind swept
through the canon and in a moment the whole point was one sheet of flames. We seized
whatever we could and rushed for the boats and amid the rush of wind and flames we
pushed out and dropped down the river a few rods. May handkerchief was burned that I
had tied around my neck, and my ears and face badly scorched. We had hardly landed
before the fire was again upon us and we were forced to run a bad rapid to escape it.
We got through safe, however, and are all right tonight except that we lost most of
our mess-kit.”

When the second Powell Expedition came through this section a couple years later they found the mess kit and other camp ware.