Day 14: Football Field to Ledges
March 18, 2014
We are out of camp early with our lunches packed and ready for a lot of small rapids, followed by the big one, Upset, an 8 rating in all the guide books.
Kanab Canyon is about 6 miles down, where many of us have hiked before, then Olo, then “Matkat” (Matkatamiba Rapid), then Upset shows up and we park the boats about 500 feet above the rapid and walk down to scout. There is a left run up against the left wall with a large rock at the bottom you have to miss, or would probably flip on. The center hole is huge and is to be avoided, but right lateral waves are driving you straight toward it.
We all discuss and enter left and more right for the wooden boats. Robb ran it first and picked the left run and hit it spot-on and eddied-out on the left. Stef takes a raft on the right run and, again, does it perfectly and eddies out on the right beach below where Nate is filming. Tony runs third and tries to move right and does not make it. He takes the cataraft sideways into the big hole where it stops and flings Tony off upstream and then plops down on top of him and spins out of the hole on the right. Tony soon surfaces and pats his head (the “I’m alright” signal) and heads downstream with Robb in hot pursuit. They eddy out just around the corner. Greg Hatten is next in the Portola and also does not make it around the center hole, slides in sideways and he and Leif are pitched out and swim right. The Portola only rolls over twice and then flushes out, riding much higher than at Grapevine and with the hatches dry. Stef rows off the beach in hot pursuit and they all eddy out within our field of veiw and we soon see the Portola upright. Greg and Leif have been able to roll her over by themselves and have her bailed out. Doug brings is his raft down on the right side and parks it at the right side and walks back and brings the Susie Too down as well. CeCe jumps in to be safety there.
Our new friends from Alaska in five yellow rafts start through. The first one flips in the center hole and the oarsman swims to the Susie Too and was pulled in. The raft and passenger headed down to where Stef was and was pulled ashore. The last yellow raft goes sideways into the hole and surfs for over two minutes with both onboard high-siding and finally getting an oar in the water and popping out.
Izzy brings her raft down with John as passenger in a perfect run, pulling right to avoid the rock. Nate and I jump on with Doug and we row down to Stef and the upside-down yellow raft. They are rigging a Z-drag. Tony and Robb already have used the Z-drag to get the cataraft over and is repacking the raft. We head out and make it to the Upper Ledges where we camp late, cook fast, and set out a lot to dry, which we have to put up wet when the wind gets strong and some things disappear into the river and not recovered. Natalie Mortenson, Leif’s daughter, spends time following mice and kangaroo rats along the ledges at the back of our camping spaces.
Wow – sounds like Upset is named appropriately. We ran it in 2011 at 20,000 feet. I was rowing an inflatable, and got completely turned around at the beginning of the rapid. I hit the big hole sideways, but glided right over it. Horrible run with a totally acceptable result!