Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Living the Dream, Day 6 – Elves Chasm and the Great Unconformity

A rosy–fingered dawn metamorphoses into a vibrantly blue morning sky. In the blink of an eye, shadows and colors shift on the canyon walls. Another plate of scrambled eggs sits balanced on my lap. It is Day Six of our Colorado River rafting adventure in Grand Canyon. A question hangs suspended in midair. Where exactly in this magnificent chasm are we now?
A balanced breakfast (Click on any pic to enlargenate)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Living the Dream, Day 5 – Bright Angel and Beyond

We are deep within the metamorphic rocks of Granite Gorge, more than a mile below the rim of Grand Canyon. At river mile 88, in the area of Phantom Ranch, we cross beneath two narrow bridges. GC Raft Trip 487(a)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Living the Dream, Day 5 – Granite Gorge and The Great Unknown

We huddle together, this early May day, on a 12–person (14, if you include the guides) inflatable J–rig party boat that glides through the rapids with relative ease. We are ready for whatever thrill these cold riffles and rapids offer, so we hold on less and less, jostling and bouncing our way down the Colorado River. Soon the canyon narrows. Its vertical walls become higher, with fewer escape routes should anyone need to climb out. The rapids become larger and longer. We are within the ancient metamorphic rocks of Granite Gorge, home to the deepest, darkest, oldest, and baddest rocks in Grand Canyon. These are the crystalline basement rocks that underlie the North American continent. I am exactly where I want to be.

GC Raft Trip 427(a)
Into the jaws of Granite Gorge (click on any pic to enlargenate)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Living the Dream, Day 5 – A Wild Ride in the Grand Canyon Supergroup

Saturday, May 9, 2015:  Up early. Slept fairly well last night, after organizing sandy tent stuff and composing Friday’s journal entry in the dwindling daylight. Camped beneath walls of the Precambrian Dox Formation and Cardenas Lava.  It looks like yesterday’s storm has passed, leaving lingering thready clouds and a sunrise reflecting orange on the distant cliffs. Or is it pink? Or burnished yellow–gold–chrysanthemum?

We are advised to put on our long thermals in anticipation of today’s frigid ride. Kris and I are glad that we each have a blue bag full of layers and rain gear. Hypothermia is something we hope to avoid.

After a tasty breakfast (more scrambled eggs and cowboy coffee!) we gather along the river bank in our bucket brigade and heave every bit of camp gear back onto the boat. Another day of rafting on the Colorado River has been launched.

We take a short hike to some petroglyphs (click on any pic to enlargenate)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Living the Dream, Day 4 – The Grand Canyon Supergroup

It staggers anyone’s sense of time and space. I am compelled to read about it over and over and over again after I get home from my May 2015 raft trip down the Colorado River. It takes quite a bit of “Wait. What?” before I can even begin to wrap my mind around its significance. It is the Grand Canyon Supergroup, gently tilted and isolated remnant wedges of the oldest limestones, sandstones, siltstones, mudstones, and basalts found in Grand Canyon. We are talking about sedimentary rocks that are more than a billion years old.
GC Raft Trip 345(a)
Finding the Grand Canyon Supergroup (click on any pic to enlargenate)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Living the Dream, Day 4 – A Last Look at the Tapeats

We depart the Little Colorado in mid-afternoon of an early May day, continuing on Day Four of our excellent Colorado River rafting adventure. The sky that earlier teased us with a warm patchy blue has turned again to cold gray. The sun is a vague, hazy blob behind the thickening clouds. We huddle beneath blue tarps in a futile attempt to stay warm and dry. The Tapeats Sandstone is about to disappear up, up, and away from the water’s edge.

The flattened, fractured layers of this formation are too captivating to let go so soon, though. With that in mind, here are a few still images and videos to consider for now, until the Tapeats reappears further downstream in a few days. Enjoy!

Motoring through the Tapeats (click on any pic to enlargenate)

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Living the Dream, Day 4 – Tapeats Sandstone & The Little Colorado

Gray clouds linger in the sky like battered marshmallows as we motor our way through river mile 60 on the Colorado River. My feet are soggy raisins inside my wet neoprene booties and rubber river shoes. My nose drips like a sunburnt popsicle in July. It has been raining intermittently sideways for the past ten river miles and my waterproof gear seems to have sprung a few leaks. My core is a shuddering block of slush. As instructed by our flip-flop-wearing guides, I am wearing my bathing suit under multiple layers of thermal wear. Now they tell us it is time to go swimming.  Really? The last thing I want to do is plunge my hypothermia-verging self into that frigid river. Deep inside my cold-addled brain I imagine a toasty sauna or (ooohh!) hot spring materializing somewhere nearby.
The Tapeats Sandstone at river level (click on any pic to enlargenate)