Thursday, March 13, 2008

Longboating the Grand Canyon

Steven Hughes plugging the center:

Chris in his 15 foot sea kayak punching Crystal:

TVF started for us on a river dropping a whopping 6 feet per mile. We needed conditioning and fun so we packed our bags and headed west.

During January the Steamers and friends spent 11 days longboating the Grand Canyon. This was our spring practice in preperation for TVF. We loaded all the food and camping gear needed into borrowed sea kayaks and longboats and headed into the depths of the mystical and amazing Grand Canyon. Averaging 30 miles of paddling per day in forty degree weather toughened us up a bit. The Canyon, as always, provided much challenge and adventure. We felt like Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV heading off to Siberia to prepare for Drago.

Paddling was only part of the adventure. Hiking in the Canyon is amazing. We spent a day climbing the full distance to the rim and while returning to the river we got to truly appreciate what a vertical mile looks like. On day number 8 we explored Havasu Canyon and hiked to 90+ foot Mooney Falls.

The whitewater was amazing. Giant holes and waves everywhere. Steering a longboat loaded with 100+ pounds of crap was a great daily workout. There was always the hole you wished you could miss, but just couldn’t turn the aircraft carrier in time to avoid. The better technique was to simply plug the meat of it with as much speed as possible and hope to mystery through it. The plugging method was a blast when it worked. If it didn’t, as House Rock Rapid illustrated, you felt like an old-school rodeo boater exploring the first cartwheels. In all, the whitewater was awesome and I look forward to paddling there again.

After returning home to Tennessee we finalized the team and got a few great creeks in for practice. The amazing Bear Creek finally ran at a great level and it was wonderful to paddle. The Raven’s Fork has gone a few times and paddling there is such an honor. TVF has started and we are as hungry as ever.

Lee's Ferry:

Elves Chasm:

Redwall Cavern:

Hiking to the rim:

Close to the top:

Chris with 11 days of supplies:

Nick driving his sea kayak

Deer Creek Falls drops 50 feet to the Colorado:

Jonathan, Mark and Nick at Nankoweap:

Beaver Falls in Havasu Canyon:

River Right at Lava:

Deer Creek Confluence:

Jonathan in Matkatamiba:

Rainbow above Lee's Ferry:

Thunder River flowing from a 1,000 foot cliff:

Lower Falls on Thunder River:

O'Neill Butte along the South Kaibab Trail:

Chris and Mark enjoying the sunshine:

Typical downstream view:

Baby Big Horn:

Monument Valley: