April 12, 2008

We Paddle the Colorado!

While parusing a local "tourist magazine" we noticed an add for a non-whitewater raft trip on the Colorado River from the Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry. This triggered the idea for a paddle on the same 15 miles. One phone call, a credit card number and we were set for Saturday, yippie! http://www.canyon-country.com/lakepowell/gcdam.htm

The drive to Lee's Ferry was punctuated by stops at the local Navajo jewelery stands, and some rather amazing toadstools!

We reached the Ferry at 11AM to meet the "shuttle" to bring us back to the Dam & launch. To our surprise, the tour rafts pulled up and were huge! First thing you know, we're loading the kayaks and our gear onto one of these big boys, and are ready to shove off. As we were heading upriver, a group was leaving to get the thrillride downstream.

Captain Brad was great! What can I say...a true born & bred river runner who has spent his entire working career in the Canyon. The one hour ride up the Canyon was a real treat, as Brad did an excellent job of explaining the features & history of the area.

About 12:20 we arrive just short of the Dam, unload, wave bye to Brad, have a nice picnic lunch on the beach in front of the Dam, and embark!

Looking back after rounding the first bend, I knew this would be a great experience. The height, sheerness and saturated colors of the Canyon walls were already beckoning for many more trips here in the future.
Having hiked Grand Canyon (50+ miles below here) where the water is "too thin to plow & too thick to drink), we were surprised by the clarity of the blue-green water here. Brad explained that it was due to the flow coming from the bottom of the almost 600ft high Dam. The water coming out is crystal clear and 42 degrees year-round. The River has been stocked with rainbow trout, fresh water shrimp and the necessary plants to support a thriving fishery. While on the River we saw a good number of folks catching fish, some as large as 21 inches!

One of the suggested stops was an archeological site that is not on the typical tourist stops (thanks, Brad!). A short hike up the dry creekbed followed by a climb of a couple hundred feet gave us a wonderful view of the River. After a bit of searching, we found the petroglyphs. They were unique being carved much deeper than any others we have seen. The warm sun felt good, and was starting to open a few cactus blooms.

Brad had explained that a there had been an attempt to mine gold here in the late 1800's. Just below and down from the Anasazi markings, we found the claim signature.
It's hard to capture or explain the sheer beauty of this experience. Coming up on "Horseshoe Bend" we realize how this part of the Canyon is so different from downstream.

Perhaps this shot taken Sunday from the overlook looking down on the very waters we paddled the day before will help....

We were told there were no rapids on this stretch (Kim gets a bit apprehensive about whitewater), but we managed to find a spot that gave us a little push!

Rounding the final bend around 6PM I couldn't help but think how blessed we are to have Nature's wonderful creations out here for us to enjoy! What a paddle, what a day!

Oh, and in case you're wondering how I got the shots overlooking Horseshoe Bend....her it is, and yes it took my breath away!