I keep thinking I can cover more than 2 days in a single post, but there are so many photos, and we did so much! So forgive my self-indulgence and be patient as I work my way down the river. For Zeke, I'm adding info about our camps and stops.
This was a day for an early start, due to the logistics of running a river whose flow is controlled by a region's power needs. Crystal Rapids is a notoriously challenging stretch, and is easier at low water. Thus we were hurried along to get to the rapids before the morning's release from the dam (to power the SW) reached that stretch of the river. We left camp at 8 a.m. and headed straight into Boucher Rapids, leaving us all cold and wet (especially those in the bow of the boat).
|Ready to shove off after a night on a wind-blown sand dune.|
Of course, I don't really have any photos of going through the rapids, since I was too busy hanging on. I was more likely to get photos when we paused below a rapid to keep an eye on the boats behind us.
|Emerging from a rapid, looking back to watch the other boats.|
|Between rapids we could enjoy the scenery, which included quite a lot of desert bighorn sheep, including this band which had two lambs (only one pictured).|
Making camp before lunch allowed us to do another substantial hike, up and over a ridge into Shinumo Creek, where William Bass had a tourist camp long ago. Climbing an 800' ridge in the mid-day heat, even starting with wet clothes, was painful, but worthwhile.
|Looking back from the divide. Camp is the little sand bar below the rapids.|
On this hike we finally started seeing some flowers, mostly cactus blossoms.
|I think these are some kind of four o'clocks|
|Claret cup cactus|
Once over the top we dropped quickly into Shinumo Creek, where cottonwoods offered some shade.
|Outdoor mini-museum at Bass's camp|
At the turn-around point, a glorious swimming hole.
|Enjoying the washing-machine action of the mini-falls. Creek water was cool, but not cold, so it felt great.|
Of course, by the time we got back to camp we were hot and tired again! Some of us took our time, lingering over the flowers in hopes that the sun would stop shining so much on the black Brahma schist that backdropped the campsite (and held the heat well into the night). We were ready for dinner after that hike!
|Pro tip: if ramen noodles are on the menu, dress it up in a chef's uniform|
|Much easier to find a corner to flop out a tarp and a single mattress than to put up a tent. In this case, just one rock away from the kitchen, so I could be first in line for the coffee.|
|The energy and skill of our guides never ceased to amaze me.|
We started the day with the cinnamon cake that had refused to cook in time for dessert--all were agreed that it made a great addition to breakfast, so no complaints. This morning, I took a front seat in the dory, rapidly becoming my boat of choice.
|The paddle raft was off limits to me due to tendonitis in my elbows, but dang, they always seemed to be having fun!|
About 10 we stopped for a 4-mile hike into Garnet Canyon. It started with a fun rock scramble, before we hiked around and into the canyon.
|Start by ducking under the arch!|
|Climbing through the arch and on up. It was a pleasure to do my scrambling with a guide always ready to lend a hand where needed, or just to point out where to put hands and feet.|
|Rounding the end of the ridge to Garnet.|
Garnet proved to have a nice little slot canyon to explore, with some help up a couple of small pour-offs.
I'm pretty sure there's a way around, but this was a pretty effective stopping point for us.
|It was also really nice to sit there in the shade, even though the creek was dry, so there was no swimming hole after all.|
Back to the rafts for lunch, before we shoved off to get to the next short hike.
That's right--Day 10 was a two-hike day. The second, though, was about 10 minutes up to Elves Chasm, a beautiful bit of creek with a waterfall and a cavern behind.
|The pool was deep--well over our heads, and suitable for the brave to jump into.|
Several of the guides and a couple of the passengers made the climb up behind the rocks on the right to the slippery jumping-off point. They made quite a splash.
I wasn't about to jump, but I put my waterproof cell phone in a pocket and went to take photos from a different perspective.
|From the cavern looking out.|
|I'm thinking this should be my new author photo :D|
From the Elves Chasm it was another couple of miles down a calm bit of river to camp, making this one of our shorter river days--only about 12 miles, but with lots of great exploration. Sitting in a boat on the river is stunning, but there is no doubt in my mind that it's the side hikes that really make the trip.
|If you can't choose, do it all. That includes the menu option on burgers and brats night.|