Thursday, June 28, 2007

Day 3

We had another short day mileage-wise. So far we've been averaging about 20 miles per day, even though we have to cover about 240 total. The logic is that it's cooler at this end of the canyon, so it's better to spend more time here, and then more more quickly through the hottest parts.

In the morning, we hiked up into Saddle Canyon, which glows red and orange, to gorgeous waterfall. The light on the walls was almost entirely reflected light, so it enhances the colors of the walls. At one point, I felt like I was breathing red air. Incredible.

We set up camp early, right across the river from where the Little Colorado River joins the Colorado. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing and relaxing in the Little Colorado. It was as turquoise-blue as Saddle Canyon was red-orange. We felt like we were suddenly in the Caribbean. The water temperature was luxuriously warm compared to the big river, so we spent lots of time just idly paddling around. Following our guides lead, we flipped our life jackets upside-down and wore them like diapers in order to slide down the shallow, gentle rapids. Before we could get bored with that, our guides hiked us a few hundred yards upstream to where we could jump off a big rock. It was fantastic to see the 50-year-olds as enthusiastic about it as the 15-year-old.

We headed back to our campsite when the sun had dipped below the canyon walls and shrouded our beach in shadow. As we were getting ready for dinner, our guides spotted some humpback chubs in the water - a special sight, as there are very few remaining native fish in the Colorado. They nibbled on scraps getting rinsed out of bean cans, as well as on Scott's finger.

After dinner, we got to watch the rising moon slowly light up the canyon walls around us - sort of a reverse of the shadow shrouding that had happened earlier. Just as we were going to sleep, the moon itself rose above the walls.

This is a poorly-focused picture of one of the rocks common on this campsite. It formed around coral, when this area was underwater, and then the coral dissolved away leaving this imprinted rock.

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