Monday, September 30, 2013

... and back out again.

The crew poses at the top...
We spent four days rafting the Colorado River. At the end of it, our crew dropped us off at Phantom Ranch early in the morning. We were looking at an eight mile hike out, including a one mile change in elevation with about twenty-five pounds of gear on our back.

The crew urged us to get as high as we could before the rising sun cleared the canyon walls as temperatures in the canyon can hit over 38 Celsius (100 Fahrenheit) during the hottest part of the day.

I'm proud to say that Team Canada -- represented by my wife and I -- made it to the top in 3.5 hours. It was a tough slog and the thighs were definitely complaining near the end, but it was made easier by the fact that we had deliberately trained for it. One Brazilian girl in our group made it up nearly as fast as we did but the next members didn't arrive for another three hours!
The Kissing Rock...
A river runs through it....

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Chocolate milk!!

Incoming!
This is the muddy Colorado River about to smack me in the face. This photo was a lucky fluke. I was trying to take a video as we went through a rapid and I hit the wrong button by mistake.

Much of the upper run is fed by side rivers such as the Little Colorado River which flood the main river with reddish-brown mud. The result is that it seems like you are travelling down a river of chocolate milk.

Colorado mud...
The first night we camped it rained, but it was a warm rain so we weren't bothered by it. The only annoyance was the fine red sand that stuck to everything.

Camping in the warm rain...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Into the depths...

Rafting down the muddy Colorado River...
Down the muddy Colorado River...
After a brief stay in Flagstaff, AZ my wife and I took part in a four day motorized rafting trip organized by Grand Canyon Whitewater Rafting down the upper Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park runs 290 miles from Lee's Landing to Lake Mead. The upper Grand Canyon rafting tour only takes you as far as Phantom Ranch while the lower rafting tour continues on to Diamond Creek.

Grand Canyon seen from the bottom...
Grand Canyon from the bottom...
The trip was well organized. The company provides everything -- transportation, food (they even prepare and serve it), camping gear...

The chief guide was the laconic Jason. He was assisted by a crew of three. What impressed me was that despite the very different personalities of the crew they were a tightly-knit team that worked together with almost military cohesion to ensure our experience was an enjoyable one.

Our laconic leader Jason...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Grand Canyon


Continuing our summer travels after Winslow, Arizona we arrived at the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The sheer size of the canyon overwhelms you. Ten miles wide, 230 miles long and one mile deep... People gather at sunset to takes lots and lots of photos.

The Watchtower sits at the edge of the north rim. It features views, native artwork and books on the history of the canyon.






Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Deep Impact

Deep impact! The Arizona Meteor Crater
Bigger than it looks...
I discovered that the Arizona Meteor Crater wasn't too far from Flagstaff and we made a special trip to see it on our way from Winslow.

I had read of this crater as a kid -- had seen photos of it in some of my astronomy books -- but still I wasn't prepared for the massive scale of it.  You could drop a 50+ storey building in the middle of the crater and it wouldn't reach the height of the sides.

The meteor that caused it struck about 50,000 years ago. If a similar or larger sized asteroid or meteor were to strike today the destruction it would cause is scary to contemplate.

The crater was used by Apollo astronauts for part of their training As a movie buff, I was also intrigued to learn that the crater was used in the filming of John Carpenter's Starman.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Winslow, Arizona

Totem pole in Winslow, Arizona...
Ancient eyes watch over the landscape.
More images from Winslow, Arizona. This totem pole is part of a park that features this poem-on-sticks...

From Wikipedia:
Ancient Pueblo peoples or Ancestral Pueblo peoples were an ancient Native American culture centered on the present-day Four Corners area of the United States, comprising southern Utah, northeastern Arizona, northern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado. They lived in a range of structures, including pit houses, pueblos, and cliff dwellings designed so that they could lift entry ladders during enemy attacks, which provided security. Archaeologists referred to one of these cultural groups as the Anasazi, although the term is not preferred by contemporary Pueblo peoples.

The description 'Anasazi' was bestowed upon them by the Navajos with whom they came into conflict. The word means 'ancient enemy' and both groups consider the word derogatory.

Park at Winslow, Arizona...
Winslow poetry...