Bob Zache, a longtime Arizona resident, went on his first Grand Canyon whitewater rafting trip in May 2011. The 75-year-old adventurer kept a journal of his 10-day oar-powered trip through the heart of the Grand Canyon. He and Grand Canyon Whitewater would like to share this story with you, from the days before his launch all the way through to the sorrowful goodbyes at journey’s end.
Here’s the tenth installment in this series, written by Bob.
“Day Nine – Thursday, June 2 – Quote of the day: “Bail, you honkies, bail!” shouted by Grant just after Lava Falls.
Can still feel the motion of the boat; after being on it all day, when you get off, it feels like the ground is rocking, decreasing a little within hours, but still there in the morning. Cereal for breakfast, oat flakes with blueberries and boxed milk; loaded everything and got on the river early.
Twelve miles downstream, at mile 180, beached to walk down and survey Lava Falls, reputedly the biggest, meanest rapids on the river — a 13-foot drop, followed by Lower Lava Rapid, a 14 –foot drop. It is impressive, and hard to believe our boats are actually going to go through them in just a little while. We watched as the Mother Ship descended, the big raft dwarfed by the raging water; it takes the right side, directly over the falls; our boatmen will try to steer to the left.
In our boat, Laurie, Bill and Vienna are up front, Frosty and I in back, standing up, clinging to the straps holding down our baggage. We enter it and it’s as noisy and exciting as advertised; Grant performed a 360-degree turn midway, right off the lip of one huge wave, swirling out the bottom, just to show off someone said later, though we’re not sure it was intentional. We were just through Lava Falls and entering the lower rapids when he screamed, “Bail, you honkies, bail!” Still holding on, we waited until we were through the rapids before unhooking the buckets and bilge pumps.
We beached for lunch at Hell’s Hollow, 183 miles down, for a couple of hours, then on down to Chalk Camp at mile 185 – just a couple of miles to go and our adventure is over. Damn.
The party group immediately deployed a canopy and gathered in the shade, feet cooling in shallow river water. Beverages were shared and lots of stories told. Later walked with Donna, Laurie, Bill and Vienna across a big sand dune and up a canyon, kind of a disappointment compared to so many other beautiful places we’d hiked to earlier, and got my socks full of foxtails.
Later, after dinner (which I didn’t record and can’t remember what we had) Brock presented us our River Rat pins for running Lava Falls, telling us to always wear them with the tail down — good luck for anybody who happens to be running them at the time. And we started saying our goodbyes.”
For earlier installments of this series, visit our blog or follow us on Facebook. And keep following for Bob’s next adventure!