Friday, June 29, 2007

Day 4

Here's Scott waking up on Day 4. Even though we took baths every night, it was still hard to get our hair clean. The result, in his case, was an awesome mohawk.

Today was our first day of really big water. The rapids in the Grand Canyon are rated on a 1-10 scale (whereas the rest of the world uses a 1-6 scale). Today we ran some 10s and, I kid you not, some 11s. Straight out of Spinal Tap. They were definitely fun, and not as scary as I expected. The reason for all the rapids is that we dropped into a harder layer of rock. We went from nice soft shales to much harder schist. Less erosion = narrower, deeper, more violent water. The big waves are fun, but my favorite part of the rapids is right on top - the water is as smooth as glass as it's getting pulled, hard, down into the chute. You can see all the turbulence ahead, but for a moment it's very smooth and peaceful.

It's beautiful rock. Seeing this canyon, along with reading John McPhee's Annals of a Former World has given me a whole new appreciation of how beautiful rocks can be. Just a little bit of understanding about how they came to be, combined with seeing them all laid out on such a large scale, goes a long way.

Our only hike this morning was a short, flat one to Phantom Ranch, which is only accessible by boat and by mule. There are cabins and campsites and, nicest of all, a canteen where we bought ice-cold lemonade and mailed postcards to our nearest and dearest.

We arrived at our campsite around 3 pm, right along a thundering rapids. Our noisiest campsite yet, but in the best possible way. We got set up under the blazing sun, and then Scott and I hastily retreated to a shady spot to read and nap until the sun got a little lower. After dinner, Norm got out his guitar, and we all sang songs together.

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