A DIRTBAG DOES THE BIG DITCH – Peter Ely’s journal of his 2015 GrandCanyon mission PART THREE. By Peter Ely

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!! 
2-4-2015 (day #11)
Today we left Stone Creek and just floated a while before stoping at Tapeats Creek. Everyone wanted to hike, but being a South East kid, I’m missing some creeking. And being a dumbass, I miss the trail and make the hike-in – one of the worst I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Suffer Fest starts with ditching the trail and hiking through the creek a ways until I get boxed in. Without being able to continue the path I have foolishly chosen, I refuse to turn around and lodge my boat in an eddie and clipped my rope to it. Then I throw the other end of my rope in my mouth and proceed to free solo my way up the box canyon wall. Make it up two pitches before topping out and roping my boat up each ledge. I then continue about 3 miles of a stout off the trail hike before calling it quits and putting on. Count 2 strainers, 2 sieves, and make 2 portages. And the creek needs more water, the more water the better really. All in all, I’m still glad I did it. But damn the hike sucked. 
We paddle through the narrowest part of the canyon (76ft), at mile 135. It reminds me of the Rockwood box canyon in Colorado. Today is Brett’s birthday and Andrew gives him the birthday challenge of hiking up Tapeats, over to Thunder River, and out Deer Creek to the Colorado. He also challenges him to rock his birthday suit in a very cold, very early skinny dip when Brett first wakes up… Anyways we pick Brett up a ways later that day, calling it quits just downstream at OC’s camp. Pretty premo stuff.

2-5-2015 (day #12)
Oh yes, second layover day! OC’s is just too sweet to leave, and we all want to go play at Deer Creek. Hop on a couple rigs after breakfast for a small attainment and hike over to the monster butte, spending the whole day there. I feel the need to get naked in the pool below the monster waterfall. There’s a 15 mph wind coming off of the base of the falls where they meet the pool below. I truly cannot explain how amazing it is to stand at the base of this thing and have to brace yourself from the wind nearly blowing you over. Do not miss your chance to experience this.

Brett dropped his GoPro into the canyon above the falls the day before (his birthday). So we go on a mission, rescuing the camera. It was not the easiest thing to find, but with a little luck, Brett comes up with it. So glad he didn’t loose all his footage. 
And after we hike back out, I decide I’m not done up there so I hike back up… why not.

2-6-2015 (day #13)
Today we leave OC’s and catch a super hard eddy on river left from a blind corner. It’s not so bad in a kayak, but the rafts need help. Once we’ve tied the boats off we get to enjoy the ever so beautiful Matkatamiba a.k.a “Mat Kat”, which is a must see. We play around in there for a while before paddling downstream to Upset Rapid. Seems as if everyone wants to scout, but I  see my line from my boat. So I send it, and I can see the hole that we were warned about. But I’m feeling spicy, and plug the hell out of it with a fat boof stroke. And to my surprise, I punch it. It’s super fun, and highly recommended.
We throw up camp at the Ledges, one of the best camps we’ve stayed at, and conveniently located upstream of Havasu, which I have been dying to get in! Can’t wait for what lays ahead in following day. The stoke is high and my fingers are crossed for blue water! I’ll be sad if this rain has turned her brown.

2-7-2015 (day #14)
This is one of my favorite days on the river, not just on the canyon. We pack up camp at the Ledges and get an early start. I’m thinking for sure that Havasu will be brown. I can’t take the build up anymore so I start charging and get ahead of the group, paddling nonstop till I find the Havasu eddy. THE STOKE!!! She’s blue!!! I’m a good 30 minutes ahead of the group, so I paddle up and down the end of the canyon. Hard to believe places so beautiful exist. 
I go on a covert mission to run Beaver Falls and start the hike in early. It takes me about 4 hours of nonstop moving to reach the falls. Pretty challenging terrain and frequent boat roping towards the end. But so so worth it! I run a few laps and solo the creek out. The creek is super low and not so good, but the last few drops make it all worth it.
A few group members are lagging behind and we don’t put back on until a little after 6pm. At this point it’s dark and finding camp proves to be a challenge. We go about 5-7 miles in the dark  before settling or a less than ideal spot. But tomorrow, we run Lava Falls! So the stoke remains.

NEXT: Lava Falls and the end of the journey….
Peter’s footy from the trip

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