Thursday, June 23, 2011

RV Trip Part 5 - Back to the Colorado

Leaving Zion we made our way south to Jacob Lake, which is situated on the best route to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. There is not much of town here, more of a community consisting of the RV park and an inn / gas station. Jacob Lake is at an altitude of 8,000 feet and the RV park was nestled in a forest of ponderosa pine. It was the most scenic park so far and gave us an opportunity to have a roaring campfire.

We remade our reservations to raft down part of the Colorado for 7.30am the next morning, so it was a 5am start on Weds. It was an unbelievable 28F when I unhooked the RV - the elevation makes all the difference. Later that day we would experience 90F in Page. So we trundled along in the dark and made it to Page in time to get coffee and board the bus which took us through a long tunnel down to the base of the Glen Canyon Dam. Here we boarded the giant rubber rafts and with about 15 other river runners began a fun trip down the Colorado.


It has to be pointed out that this is flat water rafting, people with pacemakers, vertigo, the French, etc. are all welcome and no life jackets required. It was a great experience, seeing the canyon walls from the perspective of the Colorado. The water was cold and clear and trout could be seen, darting back and forth. We kept and eye out for the California Condors (wingspan nine feet!) but only spotted a few turkey vultures.

See raft in distance for scale...

We stopped at one point and had an opportunity to get up close to some graffiti, I mean Indian rock art, a/k/a petroglyphs. Very cool stuff. Probably means "thanks for building the dam and flooding the canyon and chasing off the deer, pale-face".

And then there were the rocks that looked like a howling coyote:

We alighted four hours later and 15 miles downstream at Lees Ferry. This is the starting point for the white water rapids and downstream trips that can last as long as 15 days. But don't try to raft all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. The mighty Colorado drains seven states but its power is harnessed by over 20 dams and so much water is pulled out for irrigation that the river peters out miles before the ocean. Such is progress.

Despite having a rookie piloting the raft (her knowledge of the river, the ecology, local history etc. left a lot to be desired), we thoroughly enjoyed the trip - one that will not be forgotten soon. So by midafternoon our excursion on the Colorado was complete and it was time to leave Page and head south to the Grand Canyon and see the big ol' hole in the ground.

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