River Journal - Page Five

photo: Russ & Looie cooling off at Cross Canyon
Russ & Looie cooling off at Cross Canyon

photo courtesy black george simmons


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Tuesday, July 24, 1956—Curses, my camera is gummed up—no pictures thus far.

Looie heads up the small canyon to do some mapping. Russ goes up adjacent Cross Canyon for the same purpose. Frank and Hank hike upstream to map. Some luck these guys have: the axis of the Meander Anticline follows the course of the Colorado River, which marks the boundary of Frank’s and Looie’s areas. Faulting parallel to the anticlinal axis can prevent any undesirable features from creeping across the river into either area. What a break for scientific interpretation.

Dick replaces the patch on the Robert E. Lee bumper guard while I load up canteens from the "spring". The spring is actually river water, filtered through sand, and seeping down from upstream.

I straighten things up around camp then retire to the shade of a cottonwood tree.

Everyone is back in camp before noon. Looie found a black, 7-man neoprene boat like the rascal we used on last year’s Grand Canyon trip. I get mixed up on history and paint Monitor instead of Merrimac on the little beast, much to the amusement of the others.

We load the boats and they shove off to a vantage point observing the Class 2 rapid below Cross Canyon. Upon receiving a signal Looie and I paddle the Monitor with boards to the middle of the rapid. We try to upset the boat for the photographers. We grab the starboard safety line and fall to port. In the water we go, but the Monitor won’t flip—so we are foiled.

Mile 207 rapid is a bare riffle.

Russ and Frank have been doing a lot of stop and go mapping today. We pick a camp on the left bank at the upper end of the Mile Long Rapid. From here I can see ½ mile upstream to the site of the first camp Dave Arnold and I pitched in Cataract Canyon, 10/27/52.

Tomorrow will be our toughest day on the river. The talus walls make for poor camping, and the roughest section of the river is here. To make tomorrow easier I decide to scout out the Mile Long Rapid today. Looie comes along.

The Mile Long Rapid is a tricky stretch of water and forms a series of eight rapids at this stage. The 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th are easy. The 2nd is not a dangerous rapid in itself, but catching a load of water here might make a boat uncontrollable for positioning on the 4th, 6th, and 8th. The best overall route figured is as follows:

I (Class 1)—Go down right side of tongue to get in position for II.

II (Class 4)—Miss the heavier water and hold position by sneaking down the right bank. II trails into III.

III (Class 2)—Go down the tongue and skim the right side of the small boulder in the center and at the end of the rapid. Maintain position by skimming the right side of another small boulder in the center between III and IV.

IV (Class 6)—The entire left side of the rapid forms a comb of jagged rocks out to a big boulder in the center. Most of the right side is blocked by large boulders over which water is pouring into deep holes followed by backlashes. A narrow safe route exists just to the right of the big center boulder. The target is about 10' wide. There are several nice 5- to 6-foot waves in the main channel below the rocks.

V (Class 2) This rapid has two poorly developed tongues—take the weaker left side, and stay left for VI.

VI (Class 6)—The right side of this rapid is the toughest stuff seen so far. The water plunges over two monstrous boulders into mammoth holes—an ideal place for your mother in law—water in the center isn’t much better as it piles through some jagged rocks. The only route is down the small chute on the left side.

VII (Class 2)—Follow the tongue down center, pulling left toward the end.

VIII (Class 6)—Lots of rocks and holes on the right and in the center, dangerous. There is a safe tongue on the left side, however, entry is guarded by some small rocks which might deflect a boat to the center. So, it is better to make an indirect entry by working through rocks on the extreme left.

I hit the pad early.

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Last updated: February 24, 2015

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