Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Day 12 - Part 2 :: Lava Falls Rapid

Caution. Graphics intensive. Way more than usual!

Sunday, September 28th... continued.

It was after 3 p.m. when KJ, Dar, Jim and I pulled into the scouting point for Lava Falls Rapid. We were the last to arrive. Some of the group had already gone to take a look and returned to their rafts.

I wish that I had thought to take a picture of where we tied up, it was a rocky shoreline that required climbing up and over big boulders.  I started to get out of the raft with Jim and Dar, but KJ said no, I was to stay in the raft. Time was of the essence and the others were waiting for him and it would have taken me much longer. So I stayed.

He seemed to be in a hurry when he came back. He told us to remove our hats and sunglasses then stashed them in one of the waterproof storage bins. That's when I started getting really nervous. Then he reminded us how we were to sit - lean forward into the raft, not backward. The fact that he thought he had to remind us made me even more nervous. Then he said we're going first! Good grief, we almost never go first!

And then we were on our way...

Sue, Fred, Jason, Sarah, and Allison were laughing as we pulled out. And, they still had hats and sunglasses on. What's up with that? I wondered, so why did KJ make us take ours off?

This was our view of Lava Falls Rapid before we dropped down into it. Once through, we would be stationed way down on the right, on the other side of those last boulders - the ones just before the river disappears out of view. Our job would be to retrieve any swimmers who happened to get tossed overboard. Of course, we didn't know that until after we had run the rapid. And now I wonder, Who would have caught us if we had flipped?

This shot is zoomed in and cropped drastically, Chelly is standing by as the paddle raft crew successfully maneuvers through Lava Falls Rapid.

This was actually our view of the rapids. If I had my druthers I would have been stationed where that other raft is, so yeah, I was a little disappointed. However, that disappointment was alleviated considerably by the fact that Patrick, who was in Matt's raft - the last to go through - was stationed up on the rocks about midway through the rapid and would be shooting video of the runs, which he would later share with us.

Patrick had his GoPro camera and took standard-motion video of every raft (except his, of course). But he also had another digital camera with which he shot slow-motion video of several rafts! I asked, and he gave me permission, to use some screen shots of KJ's raft (the one I was in) going through. The images below are courtesy of Patrick Grelier, and used with his permission. Thank you, Patrick!

Patrick didn't capture our entrance into Lava Falls with the slow-motion camera so the first two images are wide-angle shots from the GoPro. They also show how small the raft is compared to some of those waves. Huge waves. Tiny, tiny boat.

We were going in straight just like he planned, then the current grabbed the raft, and turned us sideways. Definitely not part of the plan.

Then it kept turning us...

Uh Oh, not supposed to be going backwards into Lava Falls Rapid! Was it luck or skill on KJ's part that we weren't running in the roughest waters, rather alongside them?

It was still pretty darned rough.

Then we got clobbered. Hard. Oh, my. Looks like Dar was slipping out of the raft! (She didn't.)

Maybe we should be thankful that we were going backward...

Nearly through that wave... but totally drenched.

The wave was powerful enough to knock KJ off his seat and it filled the raft with water, which quickly drained.

Control regained. Sort of.

Approaching the 4th wave...

Going down...

And over. Whew!  Just like you're supposed to! I thought sure we were going to get hit again but the wave broke before we got to it.

A bit of a splash on the 5th wave and then we're through. All's well that ends well. Elapsed time? Less than 30 seconds. Probably the most exhilarating 30 seconds of my life! It was Awesome!

Once everyone was through, we gathered together on the river for a little celebration as we always did after safely "conquering" a major rapid. Then it was three more miles down the river to our campsite at Hell's Hollow.

At camp that night, we all got to view the slow-motion videos on the tiny screen of Patrick's camera and were even more psyched about the run through Lava Falls Rapid. About half-way through the run, Tom and the paddle raft had gotten turned around too and went backwards for a while. Allison, Chelly, Justin, and Matt all had nearly flawless runs; they made the run look easy. It wasn't. It was a combination of skill and good fortune that got us all through safely.
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Note: The page Grand Canyon Raft Trip lists all of my posts published about this Grand Adventure!

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Day 12 - Part 2 :: Vulcan's Anvil to Lava Falls Rapid," Kinexxions, posted November 11, 2014 (http://kinexxions.blogspot.com/2014/11/day-12-part-2-lava-falls-rapid.html : accessed [access date])

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