Having left Tanner Rapids and my encounter with Mousy at mile 69, we continued on down the Colorado River to Zoroaster Camp at Mile 84.5. The dark inner walls of the Canyon signified we had traveled back a billion years in geological time, back to the very beginnings of life on earth. A rousing game of Bocce Ball served as entertainment in camp that evening.
Tom’s objective in camping at Zoroaster had been to put us close to Phantom Ranch, which was located at Mile 88 on our 18-day, 280-mile trip down the Colorado. Built in the 1920s, the facility provides the only lodging beneath the rim in the Grand Canyon. There are three ways to get there: on foot, by mule or by raft. I’d backpacked down twice, once from the North Rim of the Canyon and once from the South. Now I would visit by raft. The Ranch also provides one of the few opportunities along the river for rafters to leave and join trips. Nancy Pape would be leaving and Jonas Minton joining us. I’d known both since the 70s.
Jonas was supposed to be there early, according to Tom’s plan. We had miles to go before we were to sleep, to paraphrase Robert Frost. But another poet interfered. “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray,” Robert Burns had declared. That had certainly been the case for Mousy who had had no intention of ending up as dinner on the edge of my sleeping pad at Tanner Rapids. And so it was for us.
Jonas had hiked down from the South Rim that morning, traveling some 9 miles and dropping 4600 feet. It was early afternoon when he arrived, exhausted. Like me, he is no youngster. He needed a nap. Tom insisted we make up for lost time, however, and away we went. Peggy and I agreed to ride with Jonas. We immediately found ourselves between a large rock and the shore with no room to maneuver— a situation we barely escaped only to careen across the river and bounce up against the wall. The raft climbed up to its tipping point, like it was eager to escape the river and us. I knew we were going over and could feel the icy waters sucking me under. But we didn’t. Jonas had both experience and adrenaline to counter his exhaustion. The raft kept its messy side up and we avoided a dunking.
Afterwards, Jonas and the raft agreed to cooperate with each other and we made it into camp without any more challenges. That was the night that Tom decided to wear Bone in his hair. I am not sure whether he was trying to appease or irritate the Canyon gods. Bone, who is quite used to strange encounters, told me later that they don’t get any stranger!
The next couple of days found us hiking through fast-moving water over slick rocks, maneuvering through one of the Canyon’s most challenging water falls, and jumping off a 20-foot cliff.
WEDNESDAY’S POST: Traveling through the Yukon Territory on the Alaska Highway.
FRIDAY’S POST: Another in the MisAdventure Series: Who shot Tony Pavy’s Pig?
33 thoughts on “We Visit Phantom Ranch, I jump Off a Cliff, and Tom Wears Bone… Rafting through the Grand Canyon”
What a fantastic trip. Looks and sounds like fun
A pretty incredible experience, Kelly, although there were no lions or giraffes… 🙂
Every trip has its own appeal. Thanks for sharing yours
Half the fun of having adventures is sharing them! 🙂
Love the dinner appreciation shot! Bone has the greatest of adventures.
Eggin was making darn sure that not a morsel of food was going to waste! Says something about Tom’s recipes. And yes, Bone does love adventure. Now he is married and haves a family, he has slowed down a bit, however. He’ll be keeping me company on my thousand mile backpack trek this summer, however! 🙂 –Curt
Heheh… we thought camels had those long lashes… but seems the mule has them too!
And they are pretty much wasted on mules and camels. 🙂 Or do you think a mule or camel of the opposite sex finds them attractive? (grin) –Curt
Might be… besides keep dust away… heheh
Wonderful! Love that last image!
🙂 Did I look cold enough? –Curt
haha, I don’t think you needed to tell anyone that the water was cold, Curt, that last picture kinda said it all for you!!
Icy, G! I wasn’t particularly excited to jump off the cliff to start with. As I’ve noted before, I figure the types of things I do in the outdoors are risky enough without adding extra thrills. Getting my body through a 10,000 mile bike trek or a 1,000 mile back pack trek in one piece is thrilling enough. 🙂 –Curt
I couldn’t agree more.
I was wondering how Tom would/would wear Bone! Very stylish.
🙂 Bone had a lot of fun on the trip, Peggy. I heard, “Can I take Bone with me?” a lot.
The canyon gods are pretty good at expressing an opinion. What an impressive sunset indeed!
It’s no wonder that the Native Americans found the Canyon a sacred place!
A pity that not all those who visit treasure it as a sacred place. Seems as though there are far too many great places being loved to death these days (or am I just being a curmudgeon?)
Too many tourists, no doubt, Gunta. But numbers in the Canyon are carefully controlled. As I mentioned in the beginning, permits are severely limited. The nature of the experience also limits people. –Curt
The look in the eye o the mule; `I have seen it all before.`
It was probably measuring my weight, just in case he had to carry me, G. 🙂 When I rode the mules down once, I was a couple of pounds over the weight limit and the mule knew it. He kept trying to bite me, and he walked as close to the edge as he could get without falling off! –Curt
I think the final picture demonstrates just how cold that water was!
Yep. 🙂 I was definitely ready for a little desert sun afterwards, Andrew!
It was nice to get acquainted with your travel mates with these pictures. Looks like such a fun time!
River time and camp time. Several of the folks were friends we have been doing things with for years, Juliann, ranging from backpacking to Burning Man. We had also worked together on issues ranging from the environment to health. –Curt
Looks like fun (again). I have to wonder though, how did you folks keep your camera gear dry while walking up streams, etc?
Good question, Dave. The ammo boxes we carried were waterproof and we stored the cameras in them when not in use. The cans were located right next to us on the boat so there was easy access. I always put mine away when we were going through rapids. –Curt
Oh, man I want to do that! Reminds me a lot of Havasu. Gorgeous pictures. And these mundane scenes (haircuts, dinners, swims..,) are priceless.
Thanks, Evelyne! The Grand Canyon post after the next, I will feature where the Havasu runs into the Colorado… and how many butts it takes to block the creek. 🙂 –Curt
I reckon you could start a caption competition for the final picture! Looks and sounds like a good time was had by all – expect the weather helped!
I did have that look about me, Dave. 🙂 And we were lucky with the weather! –Curt