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By Tom Pamperin


Wednesday April 4
Day 15: Upset Rapid

Today, after yesterday's layover at our OC's camp near Deer Creek, we'll be traveling about nineteen miles, where we'll stop at Last Chance camp on river right at mile 156. Last Chance is the final campsite above Havasu Creek, one of the most popular side canyons along the river. We'll be pulling in to Havasu tomorrow to re-create some historic photos of Moulty Fulmer and Pat Reilly's boats, so our camp at Last Chance will set us up perfectly for an early arrival.

Power Trouble Again

News on the generator front again--last night's rising water washed away a critical part of the system, leaving us with no diodes to generate current and recharge batteries. That means very few, if any, opporunities for recharging. It also means this blog could come to an abrupt end at any time. Finally, it also meant half an hour of wading into the rushing river this morning in full drysuits and PFDs to recover the pieces of the generator system that were still in place.

The Colorado River Swim Club

Upset Rapid, the only rapid we stop to scout today, looks mean and ugly. On the far left, giant lateral waves smash into the rock walls and rebound fiercely. In the center is a giant wave train and, at the bottom of the rapid, a huge hole. And the right side is almost a smooth waveless run--except for a strong lateral wave midway that's angled just right to throw a raft back into the center to hit the huge hole.

I'm thinking a right run--hit the lateral wave hard and perpendicular and I should be able to slide by everything else and miss the hole. Tom Martin, though, suggests a left-side run. If we enter the V just left of center, the wave train should slide us right past the hole at the bottom. After watching both Tom in the Gem and Hazel in her sixteen-foot raft make perfect left-side runs, I decide to try it.

Again the long slow slide down the tongue. This time nothing looks the same as it did scouting from shore, but I'm dropping into some kind of a big wave. And then it's all big waves and my raft is shooting straight down the wave train. Everything's slow, unhurried, even relaxed. I row just enough to keep my bow into the big waves--a few strokes at most--and then I'm shooting past the giant hole at the bottom, barely touching its left side. Somehow I've run Upset Rapid perfectly.

Yoshie, who follows, doesn't. I'm eddied out below the rapid, waiting with Hazel, when whistles start to blow.
Yoshie is in the water, our fourth swimmer. All of the boats waiting below the rapid converge on Yoshie's raft as it comes bumping down the tailwaves, Yoshie still clinging to the side. She got separated from her raft at some point but managed to swim back to it on her own; she just hasn't been able to climb back aboard. It's hard to judge angles and current flows to intercept her, but with four boats all doing their best to cut Yoshie off, we manage it. Craig Wolfson maneuvers the Susie R close enough to throw a line to Yoshie while someone else grabs her raft. Soon she's aboard again, all smiles. And the Colorado River Swim Club has found a new member. Four out of eighteen people on the trip have swum at least part of a rapid.

Five miles past Upset Rapid we're in camp on river right at Last Chance. The only indication of the day's troubles are the clothes Yoshie hangs up to dry outside her tent. So far so good.

Sorry for the short entry--conserving power. Two days until Lava Falls, the biggest rapid in the Canyon.


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