Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Day 9 - Contour Canyon

Again we are up and away by 10 am. As we leave camp we see two other groups stop across the river and scout out the grade 6 rapid. Having got an idea of the grading system over the last few days we just set off and read and run. Big bouncy wave trains it's nothing difficult just good fun. A few more rapids later we come across our first grade 7 (or it actually turns out to be grade 8). Ted jumps out to check it out and me and Scout blast on ahead to take pictures again. I read and run as we skirt between big pour overs and holes and blast over massive wave trains. Everyone styles the lines including the frenchies who are on the oar raft. Another group is watching and amazed by our lines and the way the frenchies control the rafts. Turns out the easiest lines are on the left. We ran the right :o)
The Canyon Walls begin to build
 Looking downstream the canyon now looks like something from Jurassic park as the canyon walls close in we net the contour canyon. Steep walls, glassy marble looking rock, very few small beaches, but loads of awesome big volume rapids. We stay in contour canyon most of the day blasting down rapid after rapid. Stopping for lunch on an awful eddy line and perched on some sloppy rocks high above the water in the full show of the scorching sun at clear water creek. The plan was to stop and hike here but a miss read of the map sees us miss the main beach and carry on. Best thing about lunch was the awesome little surf wave. 
A lovely beach spot just round the corner from where we had lunch on the cliffs
Before long we are out of the contour zone and approaching Phantom Ranch. Phantom Ranch is a mini resort that hikers can trek into. We arrive about 3pm and quickly make our way to the store to buy sun cream. The ravens stole most of ours on day 2! It's a strange but beautiful little place with a beautiful stream, campsite and store. There's horses and people it's all a little strange after 5 days alone in the canyon. Whilst at the ranch we check out a weather forecast its 90 degrees no wonder we are all absolutely boiling. We also find out there has been a lot of rain over the little Colorado and that is why it is flowing so much and the river is so silty and brown . Apparently only 1 week ago the whole Colorado was glacier blue / green not the milky chocolate brown it is now. It is also now flowing a lot higher almost 15,000cfs hence the big and bouncy waves. We fill up water bottles from the fresh springs and continue  on our way looking for the next campsite spot.

Ravens ready and waiting to take anything that's not tied down