River Journal - Page Seven

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Thursday, July 26, 1956—The party really looks like a bunch of veteran "rats" now: whiskered faces, Looie says mine looks like an armpit, at least I hope it doesn’t smell that way—I hope; reddish brown hides; rotting tennis shoes; wrinkled clothes; etc., but better still the party acts like a good boating group. In the mornings everybody knows what is to be done and does it. There is little talking and we shrink our tiny beachhead into the boats, only an occasional question as to the location of a piece of gear. We could probably strike camp in 10 minutes if we wanted to do so.

The rapids by Mile 201 island are well sealed by rocks on the left side so we go down the tongue on the right side. (Class 3).

The Monitor was picked up yesterday below Mile 202 and tags along with us today.

We ride the riffle at Mile 200¾, and pullout above Mile 200 Rapids. The canyon is very narrow here. The rapid consists of three closely spaced parts covering more than ½ mile. We run the tongues at the first two parts then pull to the right side of the third (Class 4).

The canyon continues narrow and the water fast. We come to a ¼-mile long rapid between Mile 198¾ and Mile199. We look it over, then run the center (Class 3½).

There is another fast ¼-mile rapid at Mile 198¼, Class 3 with lots of zip. We run the center.

The next three rapids are not much: a Class 2 at Mile 197¾, a Class 2 at Mile 197½, and a Class 1 at Mile 196¾.

We beach the boats on a sparkling white sand beach above Gypsum Rapids. Good swimming hole—in we go—lunch—a short---(sigh)---nap.

Looie and I hike up Gypsum Canyon to look at the Paradox fm. Which is well exposed here.

We try to catch a yellow racer to spook Russ with, but it escapes. Coming down the canyon we meet Dick on a fossil hunt. It is a noble hunt for him as this is his first field work this year, and the alternate soaking and drying of his feet has cracked them a bit.

Dick and Looie climb a slope, peering together. Around the bend comes Russ taking notes on the Paradox. Back at camp I am alone as Frank and Hank are mapping downstream.

Nobody is late for supper in spite of the dreary aspect the rations are beginning to have.

Prior to this trip I was not well acquainted with the other members of the party. Conversation thus far has uncovered that Hank’s home is 10 miles from Baraboo, Wisconsin, home of an old Navy buddy of mine; Dick and I were stationed at NAACTU, Charleston, Rhode Island, at the same time during World War 2; Frank is from New Jersey and is familiar with the Cape May-Wildwood area where I spent four months one winter [during World War 2]; Looie was born about 10 miles from Pullman, Washington, where I attended school for two years.

Friday, July 27, 1956—I take leave of camp before breakfast and climb into a side canyon which I hoped would be the site of one of the drawings in Powell’s Report, but I conned it wrong. However, the early morning light is good for a picture of the cliffs on the opposite side of the river.

By the time I get back to camp the others have departed for their mapping chores. After breakfast I clean up camp, then look over the boats.

From our camp I can see across the river, past Gypsum Rapid to the beach where Dave Arnold and I camped, 10/29/52, after the dowsing resulting from capsizing in Gypsum Rapid. A walk down to the rapid shows that all of the roaring we’ve heard for the past day is more than just a barking dog. The best route seems to be slightly left of center. This is to the left of the center route attempted in 1952. The right side should be avoided by all means possible.

[Most of the rapids in canyons of the Colorado Plateau are the result of detritus carried into the river through side canyons following rainstorms. However, some rapids in Cataract Canyon are the consequence of collapse along the canyon’s walls, and the ferocity of Gypsum Rapids was attributed to this source. The Paradox Member of the Hermosa Formation is well exposed at river-right, opposite the mouth of Gypsum Canyon. The solution of salt in this unit of evaporite minerals resulted in weakened support for overlying rocks, gravity faults developed, and blocks of the overlying rocks were fractured and tumbled into the river. Actually, Gypsum Rapid has a dual lineage as some boulders were deposited by Gypsum Creek. However, the more severe part of the rapid was at river-right where the slumped blocks occurred. The boulders, cobbles and pebbles deposited by water could be distinguished from the collapse blocks by their greater roundness, whereas the collapse blocks were more angular].

The boys return in the afternoon, tired, hot, and dry. I have been saving some "Kool Aid" for such an occasion. The stuff is unbearable at home when the wife brews a batch for the kids, but it always tastes good on a hot river trip. We guzzle two gallons in about 15 minutes.

Looie followed Gypsum Canyon up for four miles, in Paradox all of the way, to a high falls. From his description it sounds like the place I had hoped to find this morning.

We decide to spend another night at the mouth of Gypsum Canyon.

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Last updated: February 24, 2015

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