A Strange Cave Creature… Rafting through the Grand Canyon: Part 10

Peggy Mekemson at Deer Creek Falls in Grand Canyon

Peggy standing next to Deer Creek Falls in the Grand Canyon.


“It is especially cold in the rain tonight. The little canvas we have is rotten and useless; the rubber ponchos have all been lost; we have not a blanket apiece. We build a fire; but the rain, coming down in torrents, extinguishes it, and we sit up all night on the rocks, shivering…” From the diary of the one-armed John Wesley Powell on the night of August 17, 1869 during his epic exploration of the Grand Canyon.


Well, there are ADVENTURES and there are adventures. Today I will focus on our 8th, 9th and 10th days on the Colorado River. There are rapids, but nothing to write home about. In camp, the fabled heat of the Grand Canyon makes an appearance, so we put up a sun shelter and snooze. It’s a bit of a climb up to Christmas Tree Cave, maybe 10 minutes. We do, however find a very strange creature there, something that might give you nightmares. We stop to admire Deer Creek Falls and then climb up the Deer Creek Canyon, which is much more of a climb than it was to the cave, but a natural Jacuzzi greets us at the top. The water is cold. Things are tough, right? As I said, there are ADVENTURES and then there are adventures. (Grin.) I let photos tell today’s story.

We do run into rapids every few miles, but mainly the water is calm and beautiful. (Photo by Don Green.)

Rowing is a given, lots of it, but unless we are rowing against the wind or maneuvering through rapids, the river does much of the work.

Don caught this interesting face along the way. (Photo by Don Green.)

Take a cold beer or two, add in a warm sun, comfy chairs, and shade, it’s time for a snooze.

With the trip half over, it’s time to check in on how we are faring. This is me…

And this is Peggy. I can only wonder how she does it.

Our camp that evening…

And in the early morning light.

Looking up at the entrance to Christmas Tree cave. The name derives from a crystalline structure that looks something like a Christmas tree.

Okay, imagine you are alone and making your way through a large, semi-dark cave when you suddenly come face to face with this cave troll. The Christmas Tree, BTW, is to the right of Tom.

I really like the perspective on the size of the cave in this photo that Peggy took.

Deer Creek Falls was a treat. Hiking up the Deer Creek trail provided more delights.

Like the natural Jacuzzi.

It was a tad cold.

Bone was probably the least bothered by the cold of any of us. Maybe it was his warm vest. Tom and Don make a hand off. Bone wanted to leap off on his own but we were afraid that the creek might carry him away!

Deer Creek had cut its way into the soft sandstone, creating a min-Grand Canyon of its own.

Which led Peggy and me to take numerous photos.

Waterfalls along Deer Creek.

And another opportunity to rest. Check out the shade on the left.

Our final photo of the day. Looking down on the Colorado River from the Deer Creek trail.

WEDNESDAY’S POST: We arrive in Alaska on the Alaska Highway. Now we will be making our way from the Canadian Border to Anchorage. Be prepared for glaciers!

FRIDAY’S POST: The MisAdventure series. The railroad detective comes to visit. Were the Mekemson kids guilty of tearing apart a railroad trestle? Tune in on Friday.









36 thoughts on “A Strange Cave Creature… Rafting through the Grand Canyon: Part 10

    • Grin. I remember that you and snakes are particularly compatible, Carrie. I’ve seen them down in the Canyon, heck I see them out in my yard, but we didn’t see any on this trip. Just a few handsome lizards. And thanks on the photos. The Canyon makes photography easy. –Curt

    • Thanks, Phil. I’ve been in by foot, mule and helicopter as well as raft. Each provides a unique perspective. Certainly for seeing the whole Canyon, the river is the way to go! –Curt

      • As a kid I always wanted to ride the mules down – now the rivers appeals much more – in any case – any way other than the car parade on along the rim is preferable. (I think my dad had pictures of me sitting on every darn scenic overlook sign the entire perimeter …brother eventually got tired and refused to get out of the car HAHA)

      • My overall favorite, Phil, is still backpacking with a friend or even by myself. If you want a less automobile dominated experience, you might try the North Rim. Far fewer people maker it up there. –Curt

  1. In that top photo, Curt, I must say you could have given Peggy a boat to sit in instead of making her stand in the water! 🙂
    To me, when you look up at the cave, it looks like the map of the U.S., only Florida is a little stumpy!
    Don’s rock face reminded me of this guy____

    • Laughing at the thought of making Peggy do anything, G. Wandering out into the falls was her idea. My job was simply to record! 🙂 Sorry your state ended up a little stumpy! What was the artist thinking? And I really like your owl comparison. Right on. –Curt

    • Definitely, and I am sure that the original native Americans made full use of the cave! The Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon in a desert environment, Gerard, does make for interesting, and beautiful contrasts. –Curt

  2. A most excellent and absolutely gorgeous photo essay, Curt. Deer Falls is such a magic place. One of the beauties about the bottom is that it engages all of your senses in big new ways. I am certain it not only challenges those who come, but changes forever who they are.

    Thank you for a just stunning photo essay.

    • I like your description of the bottom of the Grand Canyon engaging your senses in a big way, JoHanna.
      I think meeting major physical challenges: running a marathon, backpacking a hundred miles, bicycling 500 miles, etc. do change people’s perspectives of who they are and what they can accomplish. I’ve seen it over and over. Thanks. –Curt

      • So have I. The Canyon…especially from the river really impacts people. Takes the starch right out of any arrogance, forces people to focus on getting all the parts of being human coordinated and in sync by sheer necessity of the geography, and oh the whispers that can be heard in the night.
        Your stories, photos, and website is not only visually beautiful, but a real nudge to anyone who desires an adventure, enjoys a good yarn, and a reminder of just how much traveling folks can fit into a life. I am so glad you and Peggy take all those photos along the way, and choose to share them.

      • Reminds us of our place in the scope of things, as well as the great beauty in the world to those who seek it. One of the reasons that Peggy and I share our adventures is to encourage people to get out and go on their own. Thanks, JoHanna. –Curt

  3. Inquiring minds want to know: have you ever had an ordinary day in your life? For whatever reason, I found myself wondering how you’re going to deal with the day when you can’t get out and about. Then I realized who I was dealing with, and realized that day may never come. Or, if it does, it may look much, much different than most peoples’ “retirement” days. If you ever were to land in “a home,” the administration had better watch out. I can only imagine… 🙂

    • Ending up in ‘a home’ I might be forced to organize a ‘walk out,’ Linda. 🙂 In my mind’s eye I can see the facility’s residents making their way down Main Street with their canes, walkers, crutches and wheel chairs while chanting: “What’d we want? Freedom! When do we want it? Now!”
      Somehow, Linda, I think that my ordinary life shares a lot with your ordinary life. –Curt

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