The final chapter! Days 14-16
The previous posts:
After the fun splash ride through Lava Falls rapid, it was kind of nice to have a mostly calm drift down the river in the morning.
As mentioned in Part 7, just above Lava Falls we entered the volcanic portion of the canyon. That made for some great geology, between the intrusions of lava and some beautiful columnar basalt. For those who aren't geology geeks, that's the postpiles of Devil's Postpile, or the pavers of the Giant's Causeway. The columns are formed as the lava cools and shrinks.
|A close-up of the columns, which in this case seem to have from four to six sides.|
In the middle of this volcanic theme park, we stopped for a hike, to be followed by lunch. The Whitmore Trail leads up to the North Rim, or at least to a spot below the rim where the land is broken enough for a road to lead down to within 1000' of the river. The climb was hot, but as always, worth the effort.
|Heading up. Note the general sense that the canyon walls aren't as steep now. This is not an impression that holds while you are climbing the trail, which gains 1000' in a mile.|
As always, climbing rapidly puts the river in perspective.
|Looking back at our boats. We waded the channel between the sandbar and the shore before starting our climb.|
|Finally close enough for a photo of the ocatillo|
Partway up, we passed under an overhang that proved to be the underside of some of the columns.
Although in a way I was sorry to do this hike--it brought the outside world back to us, both with the sight of the road (and the jeeps camping at the end of the road) and in the form of day-hikers, an alien species after two weeks on the river--the views were not to be missed.
|Ocatillo, looking upstream|
|Basalt flows and the Hurricane Fault both run through here.|
Back down at the base of the cliff, before wading over to lunch, I detoured to check out some prehistoric pictographs.
Then on down the river, to camp below Parashant Wash at Mile 199.
|There was a lot of drying going on. The map suggested none of our rapids was very big, but we got wet anyway. Size of rapids does not necessarily correlate to how wet you are.|
A 20-mile river day, we didn't make any significant stops on this final full day of the trip.
Our camp at 220 Mile Canyon did permit a rare free-hiking opportunity. I waited as late in the afternoon as I could to dodge some of the heat but still have time to explore before dinner. To my delight, the ramble up the wash revealed far and away the best flower garden of the trip.
|Up the wash.|
It was another of those canyons that could go on all the way to the rim and beyond, but I resisted the urge to continue beyond the end of the narrow gulch.
|Rock nettle. Never saw so many and so lush.|
|Close-up of the rock nettle flower.|
The cocktail hour (i.e., waiting for dinner) brought out the spirit of fun in everyone, and we indulged in games of balance and agility. I was okay at the egg-and-spoon race, but skipped the single-leg no-hands stick collection game.
|Mostly the guides could do this.|
|Planking was more the mode for some of us.|
Our final day on the river, and we were in no hurry to leave. We had only six miles to float, and a target take-out time of 9:30--no problem for this seasoned crew!
Arrival at our take-out meant a flurry of activity, de-rigging the boats and loading the truck. Passengers were encouraged to help. Because the take-out is on Havasupai land, we masked up as soon as we landed, and stayed that way all the way back to Flagstaff.
|Cleaning the boats gave some an opportunity they couldn't pass up to give some splashes back to the crew.|
|Loading the dory on the trailer.|
|The rafts got piled up and deflated. That was our signal to flop on the squishy stack and take a break. That's me in the foreground; my brother-in-law Tom Dempsey of Photoseek.com took the picture.|
Back on the bus! The trip to town starts with ten miles up Diamond Creek, which takes an hour in the bus. The road is very rough in places, though nothing I wouldn't take the Prius down... In the wash, we spotted some of the feral donkeys made famous by Marguerite Henry's Brighty of the Grand Canyon, but I didn't get any photos.
|Our lunch stop in Seligman meant we were on the famous Route 66 for a time.|
It was sad to finish the trip, though no denying that a hot shower felt wonderful. I can't say too much how fantastic the whole thing was for me.
One final image to close with: some socks you just don't want to put in your washer, and ones that have hiked the side canyons and waded the streams are at the top of the list!
Hope you've enjoyed the trip!