Day #6: Friday, September 12th-Beginning the Inner Gorge

Day #6: Friday, September 12th-Beginning the Inner Gorge

The early part of the Canyon is a good warm up for the harder rapids to come.  The river cuts more easily through the softer layers of sedimentary rock, like the red sandstone of the Redwall formation in Marble Canyon, making the topography of the riverbed smoother and thus more flat water. Rapids are interspersed as side canyons cut in and during flood events rock debris is deposited into the river, creating a dam effect that then flows over the rocks, forming a rapid. The canyon is continually changing, but these massive scale events are rare. Yesterday, we had a chance to hike up a side drainage called Carbon Canyon and then down Lava Chuar Canyon to make a loop that brought us to our camp. The hike was incredible with massive sheer walls that echoed every voice and click of my trekking pole tip hitting a rock. We hiked up the dry riverbed, up and over boulders the size of houses wedged for eons in the confines of the walls. Seemingly with every few hundred feet we encountered a new formation, razor sharp limestone and then softer, even crumbling sandstone carved with deep pockets from erosion.  We finally emerged on a plateau high above the river and then descended the dry and cobble strewn riverbed of Lava Chuar.

Yesterday, the owner of our outfitter, AZRA, Fred Thevanin was kind enough to hike down Tanner Canyon from the South Rim with a much-needed delivery of software to hopefully help fix our dispatch issues. He’ll spend the next two nights with us before we drop him off to hike out at Phantom Ranch. The next three days, we pass through harder geologic layers, creating bigger and much meaner rapids. Today begins the Inner Gorge:  Hance, Sockdolager and Grapevine rapids  . . .

Photo credits to James Q Martin

Nankoweep Granaries captured in the moonlight.

Nankoweap Granaries captured in the moonlight.

Bracing for the big punch of 24.5 mile rapid.

Erik bracing for the big punch of the 24.5 Mile Rapid.

 Heading to the river to gear up at Supai Ledges Camp.

Heading to the river to gear up at Supai Ledges Camp.

Redwall Cavern

Redwall Cavern

 The steep limestone walls of Marble Canyon

The steep limestone walls of Marble Canyon

Lonnie riding the tongue into 24.5 mile rapid.

Lonnie riding the tongue into 24.5 Mile Rapid.