Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Day 16 - Lower Cove Canyon to Lower Whitmore Wash

The morning of March 20th found boatmen quietly checking their gear and carefully loading their boats. Robb totally reorganized the load on the cataraft to lower Tony's center of gravity - all in preparation for the big one - Lava Falls.

About an hour after launching we arrived at Vulcan's Anvil, a remnant of a lava dike that once dammed the river. This unique feature serves as warning that we were approaching Lava Falls, even before its roar could be heard.

This was our first view of Lava Falls (class 9) from the right side scout trail. No wonder it makes so much noise!

Greg and Izzy carefully consider their preferred lines and the markers they'll use to indicate where they need to be positioned to get the entry correct.

While we were scouting, the group of yellow rafts showed up to begin their scout.

Robb and Natalie ran first with Cece in her raft running second. We ran third, all with the intention of setting up safety for the dories who may get tossed around more than the heavier rafts. Helen hiked up to a vantage point to take pictures as did Nate and Dave. Thanks to Helen, we have photos of our run. Our intent was to move from right to left, placing about 4' of the back of the raft over the right edge of the center ledge hole.

We hit our first mark and started to pivot when the left oar was ripped out of Izzy's hand. A quick reach back for me returned the oar to her

in time to start pulling back and turning

to avoid the "cheese grater" by more than an oar's length. It was supposed to be a very wet run with the "V wave" filling our boat, but it was almost a letdown - very little water got in the boat. We may have had the cleanest run of the whole group.

After all of our group and the five yellow rafts successfully ran Lava, we pulled into Tequila Beach below Lower Lava to celebrate. The dory boatmen hiked off to sign the dory register that is located nearby.

Lava, and the canyon, did a great job of putting things in perspective!

With about 8 miles to go, some of the boatmen got creative. Stef decided to see if he could paddle Susie Too like a gondolier while Helen held the oars out of the water. The attempt didn't last too long...

I enjoyed watching the shadows build on the cliffs while we relived the very clean run through Lava. For some, Lava was the end of the trip mentally, but we still had 100 miles of beauty and several significant rapids yet to go. Too soon to think that we did a Grand Canyon trip without a swim.


  1. Replies
    1. The whole trip was awesome but we all had a sense of relief once this day was over.

  2. You were an awesome boatmate. Thanks for having the guts to ride with me, always helping me, and offering help and support. We rocked the crap outta Lava. You KNOW we did. It sure did feel good.

    1. Let's go back and do it again! I'd raft with you anytime.