Day 7: Layover day at Chuar Canyon
March 11, 2014
Because I planned one spectacular dinner that required a turkey and some additional time, Pam Mortenson, who did all the food scheduling, menus and most of the purchasing, placed that meal for today because we had a layover day to rest and hike in Chuar Canyon. We started the day with green chili, crustless quiches, and lots of bacon, coffee, and tea. CeCe and Stef took off early for an all day hike, while Doug, Robb, Dave, and Craig did shorter hikes. Several of us heated water with our backpacking stoves, or the Coleman propane shower and took a shower or washed our hair. I don’t think any of the men have shaved yet – after 25 days they should be sporting some good beards. About 3 p.m. I started working on the turkey dinner and cooked it Trash Can Turkey Style in a small trash can we have been hauling along for the trip with one of my deep Dutch ovens in it ( I have 3 along on this trip and used every one today for the turkey stuffing, bread, and caramel apple cobbler). John Schroeder and I have done this type of cooking a lot for groups big and small in camping areas, on canoe trips, and also at home because it is so easy and the turkey is so good. It was tonight as well and we are all stuffed.
Today was a very windy day and the kitchen and chair circle were in the windiest places in this large camping area so they moved the chairs to an unused camping spot slightly behind the ridge, and we had the benefit of sun and not a lot of wind. Tony and Greg both took naps sitting up. Several others retired to tents for naps or to rest and read. Many of us sat in the sun to enjoy the warmth. All of us with solar chargers had them out and plugged in – my 3 Goal Zero 30 amp solar panels came out of their drybags and each charged up the batteries they were paired with quite nicely. We recharged about 10 camera batteries, an iPod, my laptop I’m using to write this blog, and several of us also spent time downloading our photographs and videos to external hard drives we brought. Nate spent most of the day working on downloading and saving still shots and video. I finished up the 3 blogs we sent out on Tuesday and gave them to Leif to send, and spent part of the day talking to my office about trips we have going out this month and other things. My house purchase that was supposed to close last Friday, I find out is now scheduled to close sometime next week. My real estate agent and I have done everything we need to do and are just waiting on the title company. Most importantly, Tina pulls a 10 day weather report on weather.com and tells me that we have another 10 days of sun and partial clouds, but no chance of rain is showing for both Bullhead City on the west end of the Grand Canyon and Page on the east end. Sad for the drought-stricken southwest, but really happy for those of us on the river. I share that information with the group and we all feel extremely lucky and blessed.
The weather is amazing with daytime temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s and nighttime temperatures in the high 40’s and 50’s. It may not have gotten colder than 60 last night and does not seem cold as I write this on Tuesday night about 7:40 p.m. The trip 2 years ago launched with snow on the ground less than 100 feet up the cliffs and had storms 3 times in the 21 days they were on the river. When you have a schedule to keep to get off the river in your allotted time, you don’t get the luxury of taking a layover day unless you have scheduled it. You have miles to go each day before you sleep and if you don’t make it one day you have to make up for it the next, whether it is raining or not.
The group of boaters that launched the same day as we did pass us today late this afternoon and spend some time talking. One of the men along is a boat builder in Colorado and has built several boats for Grand Canyon Dories under Martin Litton so we have some good conversations. We will see them again as they are actually taking out at Pearce Ferry the day after us. We are sharing the camping area with 2 backpackers from Tucson who head down towards Phantom Ranch tomorrow by land as we head out by water to a camp spot at Hance Rapid. I have camped many times there both from river trips as well as backpacking trips so I am looking forward to it. There is an area there that I spent 12 hours at waiting for a group to come down river so I could join them for a 3-day trip between there and Hermit Rapid where I hiked out. A storm rolled through to the east and I shot about 50 photos in a day that was quite dramatic and made several series of photographs showing all the faces of the weather that day. There are great memories of this section of the canyon for all of us who have been here before.