Day 2: Badger Creek to North Canyon
March 6, 2014
We leave camp fairly late and row for 12 miles. There are a few riffles that are bouncy today and then there is the first bigger rapid at Soap Creek, which we scout; Nate, Izzy and Dave film and take photos of the rest of us running it. While scouting, a couple of us turn around to watch 2 condors and a red tail hawk soaring the cliff lines, while standing against the cliff watching us is a desert bighorn sheep ewe and she soon moves behind a bush.
We run 2 rafts through and the dories, with Susie Too going first. On the original trip, Pat Riley always led off in her followed by the other two. One long tongue of green water and a hole, another wave to go over, another hole and then lesser waves and holes until the rapid disappears in swirling water. Susie Too dances well and I feel well protected. We pull to the side, river left, and wait for the others. Whistles blow and we look upstream, ready to assess the situation, and see what help is needed. Leif Mortenson has attempted the rapid in the Jackson Fun Runner and has flipped and swam, becoming the first member of this trip to join the Colorado River Swim Team. He has his paddle and is making for the right shore where he can walk back up and join a raft; the kayak, upside down, is floating in eddy currents on the right side of the river and Craig Wolfson and I both move to intercept it. I take a position towards shore and he takes one further out; he snags the kayak and brings it on board the Flavell II and ties it down. Everyone else makes a good run and we head downstream for lunch and more whitewater fun.
There are a number of smaller rapids and then House Rock Rapid, which can eat boats. We climb to scout and are silent. This rapid has a 90 degree bend at the foot of a solid wall and some large rocks sticking out into the rapid, one of which is next to a huge hole. Robb and Izzy leave to set up the safety boats at the bottom of the rapid and to film, both making good runs. I run the first of the wooden boats through. I make my initial line and, into the drop before the turn, the river takes the left oar out of my hand and sends the handle outward. I am now leaning out of the boat to the left to try to grab it while still pulling backwards on my right oar to try to stay out of the wave train that leads to the huge boat-eating hole. We do 3 smaller holes and 3 smaller waves before I get the oar and pull hard and turn her just as the BIG hole flashes by on my left. I have missed it by feet and gotten a better look at it than I had ever wanted to see. Most people thought I would flip, but because I was leaning in just the right spot to try for the oar, I kept the boat balanced and she did the rest. Comments from others watching, that someone had been watching out for me, echoed my sentiments exactly. I finished the run backwards and full of water and spent 10 minutes at the bottom bailing with a large bucket, while the sump pump we had installed labored to clear the load. Everyone else makes good runs, although the Flavell II lives up to her wet reputation and fills to the top of the boxes.
The dories and Doug, with Nate and Dave aboard to film, make a short stop at the Boulder Narrows and climb high while we bring the wooden boats through to duplicate a film shot from the 1962 run with the original boats and head down to North Canyon to camp.