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 sixth installment in this series, written by Bob.
“Day Five – Sunday, May 29 – Quote of the day: ‘Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun,’ heard sitting in the shade of a salt cedar as others hiked up the Bass Trail.
Same routine: awake at 5 a.m., coffee at 5:30, breakfast of French toast, bacon and fruit, breaking camp 7-ish and on the river. Encountered a whole series of rapids, running one every 10 minutes or so, classes 3-4 and 6-7, passed Phantom Ranch about 9 a.m., according to the time in my camera’s memory (see, not looking at a watch) and nooned out below Crystal Rapid (class 7-10) at mile 99, after beaching above to scout it.
Stopped early today, 3 p.m.-ish (according to the sun in the sky) to make camp at Bass Campground, mile 109. Made 24 miles today. Best campsite so far with lots of flat spots among the salt cedars.
After getting set up, many started hiking up the Bass Trail. I was starting to hike, debating it seriously, when the two sisters from Scottsdale, Becky and Allison, talked some sense into me – this is where ‘Englishmen and mad dogs’ were mentioned. So I sat in the shade with them and shared Jack Daniels and red wine while others hiked in the mid-day sun.
Well before dark, 6-ish probably, we had dinner of very good steaks: big, boneless rib eyes grilled rare with mashed potatoes and corn. It was clouding up all day and later had to put on a fleece to stay warm. After dinner the regular party circles again but broke up early. Woke up midnight or so and looked up at the stars; the clouds had all blown away.
We’re standing in cold water all day – 50 degrees – and go barefoot all night… and it isn’t bothering me; I don’t even notice it. Cool. Found a dime on the beach today.”