Thursday, November 13, 2014

Day 14 - Pumpkin Springs to Mile 241

Tuesday, September 30th would be another long-mile day, and sadly, it would be our last night on the river. Traveling 28 miles (mile 213 to mile 241) we would run 13 rapids (half of which were very small), go through a bunch of riffles, and take a hike.

The day began at the Pumpkin Springs campsite.

Pumpkin Springs, aptly named, has the shape, color and striations of a pumpkin.

As pretty as it looks on the outside, drinking the water in Pumpkin Springs could be hazardous to your health! It is the only water in Grand Canyon that the National Park Service advises people not to drink. It contains high levels of arsenic as well as other chemicals that contribute to its colorful exterior. We had a view of the water in the spring from the groover and it looked pretty nasty with a lot of green slimey stuff on its surface.

Before leaving Pumpkin Springs, someone (one of the paddle boat rafters, I think) decided that we needed to take a group photo. Great idea!

This was taken by KJ with Patrick's camera. (I cropped it and made some adjustments to the brightness and contrast.)
        back row, from left: Tom, Nancy, DJ, Fred, Sue, Jason, Sarah, Russell, Dar, Becky, Tony and Carrie
        front row, from left: Patrick, Dave, Mary, Tana, and Jim.

Also before leaving camp, we each packed our lunch for a hike later in the day. Apparently, the spot where we would be landing for the hike was not suitable for preparing lunch as usual.

Going through "224 Mile Rapid" with Diamond Peak up ahead. By this time we had already gone through five rapids.

Dar taking a turn at the oars. When she finished, I took a turn at them too. The guides make it look so easy, but it takes a lot of coordination and strength! It's much more difficult to "push" with the oars going forward than it is to "pull" when going backward.

We're still in the "lower gorge" where the canyon walls tower above us.

We stopped at Travertine Canyon, at about mile 229, for a hike to the Grotto. (Photo taken after we returned from the hike. I didn't think to take one from the raft as we approached.) We had to climb (practically crawl) over these boulders before we could even start on the hike. For those of us whose raft was on the far end, it was a little challenging since the hill was a little steeper and there were more boulders. Getting back into the rafts was just as challenging. And now, it made sense as to why we had to pack our lunches before leaving camp!

I was standing in the middle of the stream when I saw Sue and Fred and some of the other hikers returning from the Grotto. When we arrived at this spot earlier, I was advised not to go any further. I had already had problems negotiating my way over and/or around some of the larger boulders and was quite agreeable to staying behind. I played in the stream and it's numerous little waterfalls (bathing sans soap) and ate my lunch listening to the flow of the water over the rocks. It was a brief, soothing interlude, they returned all too soon.

Travertine Falls, at mile 230.5

Matt (with Sue and Fred in front, and Sarah and Jason in the rear) begins his run through 231 Mile Rapid (rated 4-7 on the Grand Canyon scale).

Like ducks in a row, floating toward yet another rapid. I don't know which rapid it was, just that it was about half an hour after 231 Mile Rapid. Starting at mile 231 and ending at mile 236 we ran five rapids (rated at either 4-6 or 4-7). It was almost as amazing as Day 8 when we ran the "Gems."

It was in one of those rapids, from mile 231 to mile 236, that we would have the only swimmers of the trip. By their own admission, the paddle boat crew had become complacent and a bit cocky, after all they had made it safely through Lava Falls Rapid as well as all of the other rapids in the Lower Canyon.

We watched, as if in slow motion, as their raft was carried up by a wave on the right. The right side of the raft went up further, nearly to the tipping point, and the three paddlers on that side simply dropped down, hitting the three paddlers on the left side and throwing all of them into the river. Somehow, Tom, guiding from the rear, managed to stay in the raft. The swimmers recovered quickly and made it back to the raft safely with only a few bruises and a good story to tell all of their friends and family.

Matt and the gang dropping into the rapid mentioned in the previous photo.

Follow the line of Matt's oar and you'll see Sue, just barely visible on the left side of the raft!

We're approaching the end of the journey. Though still within the borders of Grand Canyon National Park, we officially enter Lake Mead a short distance around the bend.

At about mile 240, the rafts gathered and were tied together. We were officially in Lake Mead. We drifted like this for a while then it was time to move on to our campsite.

Pulling in to our last campsite, at mile 241.

For some of us, our sleeping area was this stretch of beach. My spot is between the first two tents. I'm using the paco pad to try and dry the clothes I wore in the raft. There was another section of the beach off to the left that curved on around where others set up for the night. (Above photo courtesy of Sue Elliott)

The blue boat on the right is a jet boat that had brought a motor and other gear needed to take the rafts out later that night. It would return for us, our personal gear, and the rest of the camping gear the next morning.

After supper, the air was let out of the paddle raft and it was bundled up and put into one of the bigger rafts. The remaining rafts were then tied together. A big outboard motor was hooked up and they were driven off to the take-out point at Pearce Ferry, 40 miles downriver. Matt and Tom stayed in camp with us, but the other guides went with the rafts so everything could be unloaded by morning.

It was really sad to see KJ, Allison, Justin, and Chelly leave. Even though we knew we would see them again tomorrow, it brought home the fact that this trip was actually over. And most, if not all of us, truly did not want it to come to an end.

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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 14 - Pumpkin Springs to Mile 241," Kinexxions, posted November 13, 2014 ( : accessed [access date])


Charlie said...

This has been a wonderful documentation of your rafting trip. Throughly enjoyed every post.

Becky Wiseman said...

Thank you, Charlie!