Editors: Kayaker Peter Ely, a transplanted Californian who makes his home in the mountains of North Carolina, recently completed a mission down the Colorado River in pursuit of the ultimate Good Livin’. He shares his journal entries with us in this series, which will run Tuesdays as we travel 20 days with him. ENJOY!!
1-30-2015 (Day #6)
Big day on the river! We are going to see our first class 8 rapid (Hance). We started the day at Lava Canyon and finished at Upper Cremation. My bad shoulder is really starting to have me worried and our next river day will be the hardest and biggest day of the trip. We will be dropping into the inner gorge and with the exception of Lava Falls (which is not anywhere near Lava canyon… confusing I know, but we will get to that in the final article) we will run the biggest rapids in the canyon.
Today was hard to get in motion, it started raining last night and it is still raining tonight. Not to mention that the cold hit us hard today; it has been surprisingly nice in the canyon but after today it would seem that our luck has run dry. It is winter. There’s something about waking up in a sleeping bag soaked to the core and shivering that just makes it hard to motivate.
I wound up taking the hair line in Hance and found myself going for a ride in the hole. I held on and we laugh about it in the eddy, but it’s a reminder that the attitude of the canyon is about to turn. So stoked to be in the Inner Gorge, its beautiful. But we all know what lies around the bend. Time to lace the hell up, and keep that stick on the ice there bud!
1-31-2015 (day #7)
Today was awesome. We took a vote to have a layover day. I can’t wait to do a whole lot of nothing. Yesterday had lots of miles and with my bad shoulder starting to give it will be great to rest. I did, however, paddle to Phantom Ranch right after breakfast. I charged up some batteries, sent out post cards, and called someone I have had on my mind. Today was really nice, hell I even got myself a snickers bar. 🙂
2-1-2015 (day #8)
Big day! SOOOOO GOOOOD! One of the best days I have ever had. We packed up early at Upper Cremation and got on the water. Horn Creek Rapid, Granite Rapid, Hermit Rapid, and Crystal!!!
Came in strong with Horn Creek Rapid, then had a huge boof in Granite Rapid. Hermit had some of the biggest waves I have ever seen; they are said to flip an 18′ raft end over end just by going over them. Then Crystal!!! Man oh man. Crystal is the jam to my jelly. Good times were had. Even had a little lean to boof in the entrance.
So so so so so good!! I just don’t know how you could top a day like today. We still have 12 days left to try. But this smile will last damn near the whole way to the takeout. This place is so special. I love the Inner Gorge. Camped out at Emerald. The stoke is HIGH!
(video below with the big rapids from the day)
1-2-2015 (day # 9)
Today was great! The stoke carried over from yesterday. I had a blast throwing some kick flips and wave wheels in the Big EZ, such a fun little boat. We pulled over and had us an eat on a little beach just above Elves Chasm. After lunch we went and played around at the waterfall and jumped and climbed on the chasm. There is a lot of caves and mineral ribbons as well as flow stone all around this section. I think it’s because it’s rich with limestone. Here is so beautiful and unlike any of the canyon we have seen so far. There is a ton of exploring to be done in the section and I hope next time we will have more time to play.
We eventually called it quits at Blacktail Canyon and are doing a night hike through the slot canyon. Good shit right there mate.
1-3-2015 (day #10)
We voted on a late start for the day, as well as a late breakfast, got to sleep in till 7:30 and didn’t have breakfast till 11:30. Myself, Andrew, and Dan topped out Blacktail Canyon with a pretty scary climb. Well, a few pretty scary climbs. Super fun, scary, and beautiful. Looks like we have a few fun rapids ahead of us but nothing too big.
We pulled over at Stone Creek and set up camp. I hiked up the creek to the falls. I had read a tale of the lady of Stone Creek, and how she comes alive. Although I did not have that experience, as I was staring at the waterfall, it was easy to see how this place could take you there. Theres nothing but bliss and serenity. Ill be sad to leave this place.
Peter’s edit of these days: