Day #7: Saturday, September 13th-Warm up with Hance Rapid

Day #7: Saturday, September 13th-Warm up with Hance Rapid

Shortly after breaking camp and a mile or so of flat-water, we encounter Hance Rapid. A long left bend in the river, Hance is a hard rapid because of its length and many boulders that litter the entrance and right side. The far right line is known as “the land of giants.”  We worked from the tongue of smooth water on the right, to the left, skirting the bigger and potentially consequential holes created by rocks.

Grand Canyon rapids are rated on a scale of 1-10, whereas the international scale is 1-5. Class 1 is usually flat-water and small riffles with little or no consequence.  As the scale increases it is a combination of the difficulty and the consequence of making the wrong move. Class 5 is typically considered the top of what is runnable. There is a class 6, considered un-runnable until someone endeavors upon it and successfully pushes the limit. At this water level, Hance Rapid is rated an 8.  Generally the ratings are for the much larger and slow to move rafts, but it gives me a perspective of the size and drop of each rapid. Sockdolager was the next big drop and provided unavoidable excitement. Two massive and sequential crashing waves, that the guides say are maybe 15-20 feet high from trough to crest, but the water moving downward is very strong and so both Lonnie and I were able to hang on and punch through successfully. The day ended with some more mellow water to Cremation Camp just above Phantom Ranch. The team disembarked to send letters by mule from Phantom Ranch.  

Tomorrow is one of our most challenging days as we dive deeper into the gorge.  Horn Creek comes just around the bend, rated at 9. Followed shortly by Granite (9) another big and menacing rapid. We’ll finish with Hermit (9) characterized by perhaps the biggest waves of any rapid.  It is a long expedition and we are a third through. More updates to come . . .

Photo credit: Robert Raker

Hance rapid from the scout high above. My guides tell me that the view gives little justice to how big and chaotic it is.

Hance rapid from the scout high above. My guides tell me that the view gives little justice to how big and chaotic it is.

Lonnie preparing to punch Sockdolager

Lonnie preparing to punch Sockdolager