Friday, January 29, 2016

Living the Dream, Day 4 – A Last Look at the Tapeats

We depart the Little Colorado in mid-afternoon of an early May day, continuing on Day Four of our excellent Colorado River rafting adventure. The sky that earlier teased us with a warm patchy blue has turned again to cold gray. The sun is a vague, hazy blob behind the thickening clouds. We huddle beneath blue tarps in a futile attempt to stay warm and dry. The Tapeats Sandstone is about to disappear up, up, and away from the water’s edge.

The flattened, fractured layers of this formation are too captivating to let go so soon, though. With that in mind, here are a few still images and videos to consider for now, until the Tapeats reappears further downstream in a few days. Enjoy!

Motoring through the Tapeats (click on any pic to enlargenate)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Living the Dream, Day 4 – Tapeats Sandstone & The Little Colorado

Gray clouds linger in the sky like battered marshmallows as we motor our way through river mile 60 on the Colorado River. My feet are soggy raisins inside my wet neoprene booties and rubber river shoes. My nose drips like a sunburnt popsicle in July. It has been raining intermittently sideways for the past ten river miles and my waterproof gear seems to have sprung a few leaks. My core is a shuddering block of slush. As instructed by our flip-flop-wearing guides, I am wearing my bathing suit under multiple layers of thermal wear. Now they tell us it is time to go swimming.  Really? The last thing I want to do is plunge my hypothermia-verging self into that frigid river. Deep inside my cold-addled brain I imagine a toasty sauna or (ooohh!) hot spring materializing somewhere nearby.
The Tapeats Sandstone at river level (click on any pic to enlargenate)

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Living the Dream, Day 4 - Temple Butte to Tapeats

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZip! On hands and knees I crawl, slowly and deliberately, out of my tent, bones creaking and muscles aching. Why on Earth do I do this? Why do I subject myself to this torture, sleeping atop a clammy boat mattress on the cold, hard ground with a measly six-inch square of two-inch foam sponge as a pillow?

Oh wait, I know why. Because I get to wake up to this:

The sun rises on the Redwall Limestone (click on any pic to enlargenate)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Living the Dream, Day 3 – Whither the Devonian?

It is inevitable, along this downstream Grand Canyon journey. The rock layers we have come to know so intimately must now retreat, above and beyond the water level of the Colorado River. They now graciously extend the limelight to newer (at least to our eyes) yet older layers. We have spent the morning hours enveloped within the sheer walls of the Redwall Limestone, getting to know its Mooney Falls and Thunder Springs members, Vasey’s Paradise, Redwall Cavern, the Bridge of Sighs. Our j-rigs are transporting us down canyon and down section, into deeper geologic time.

The Redwall recedes from river level (click on any pic to enlargenate)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Living The Dream, Day 3 - Swinging a Cat in the Redwall Limestone

Departing South Canyon, our guides deftly maneuver the rafts ever-so-carefully backwards, away from the beach and into the main channel. We happily avoid crashing into and sinking the flotilla of dainty dories that has stealthily crept up behind us. We cheer, wave, and point our behemoth boats downstream, leaving the dory riders to make their own discoveries amid the South Canyon ruins. It is mid-morning of our first full day rafting on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. I am beside myself with enthusiasm, thrilled that there is room on the raft for both of me.
Dories incoming! (click on any pix to enlargenate)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Living the Dream, Day 3 – Ruins and the Redwall

I awaken slowly in the spring dawn and stretch inside my sleeping bag, feeling stiff and brittle as a sun-bleached boat paddle. Footsteps crunch gently across the sandy beach. Softly muffled chatter grows louder, pots and pans clang more frequently as our guides begin breakfast preparations at their lavish camp kitchen. It is time to extricate myself from my ground-dwelling nest. The coffee gong sounds brash and heavenly. It is the morning of our first full day on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon; on hands and knees I crawl out of my already sandy tent and shake myself awake, keen to continue the adventure. Just throw me in the river and I will limber up in no time.

The cowboy coffee is perfect, nearly strong enough to stand a spoon upright in the middle of my cup. Breakfast is hot and plentiful, and apparently we have choices.

Guide in gaudy flowered apron: How would you like your eggs?

Me: How about eggs Benedict?

Guide: Scrambled it is!

Packing the j-rigs
(click on any pic to enlargenate)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Living the Dream, Day 2 – Peeling Back the Layers

Over hundreds of millions of years, the seas came in and the seas went out, covering and then exposing the changing landscape of western North America. Sediments were deposited, uplifted, and eroded in the eternal cycles of geologic time. The vertical cliffs and tumbling slopes of Grand Canyon expose the most complete stratigraphic record of Earth’s geologic history, a record more extensive than anywhere else on the planet. I have wanted to see these rocks from a raft on the Colorado River for as long as I can remember. I am finally living my dream.
Pointing at Rocks
(click on  any pic to enlargenate)