Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day 17 - Scorpion 1 : Chuck 0

9.45pm ish - 2 Paracetamol, 1 Ibroprofen, 1 Tramadol, Antihistamine, Ice and Deep Freeze

Another typical day in the canyon or is it!!!
Today started the same as everyday. Breakfast, pack up, prep lunch. But little did we realize the adventures it would have in store. Mid way through breakfast a small water fight turns messy and me and Rob go tumbling off a rock into a deep pool of icy cold river water. Rob gets stick as his fleece turns into a dead weight around him and I have to do a fast swim sprint to retrieve my sunglasses, water bottle and flip flop which are floating off downstream. Dripping wet and freezing cold as the sun hasn't hit the beach yet we return to shore rinse clothes and try and hang them up to dry. NB; don't use things that move ie raft as anchor points for washing lines unless you want very sandy pants. A few hours later we are on our way again. Part of the morning process is the after breakfast toilet visit. It has become part of the comedy ritual with each person trying to time their visit to the well placed 'loo with a view' trying to make sure they are not mid squat as the other groups float past. So far Chuck seems to have had the most spectators interrupting her special moment. But today I'm the unlucky one. I've just finished and have just started packing up when the Minnesota tea, come floating past. Waving from aside my throne it's one of the very comical 'only in the canyon moments'. Aboard the raft it's another scorching day. We cruise the rapids with Toms group. Actually no that's a but of a lie. The truth is we set off, we pin, we get free, we hit the bank, we get free, we crash into another raft, we get free, we wake up and then we cruise the rapids!

Claire and Chuck eventually figure out how to control the raft
We round one corner and meet another group and  new bunch of people. They are randomly standing in two neat lines along the river bank. There stood almost in 'Huka' positions feet wide, knees bent, hands on knees. As we get closer Chuck realizes that her group a dance crew that she'll be traveling back to Vegas with in a couple of days. As we get closer it becomes apparent that they are not just dancers they seem to be wearing slightly less clothes than would be usually acceptable even in this strong heat. We say hello and quickly move on. Chuck is going to have a right adventure getting home.

Having fun aboard a raft raft
Today we're having a floating lunch so as we approach a 2 mile flat stretch we raft up and all climb into the rafts and tuck into the pasta that Chuck and Anne have made. Antoine is back on the guitar and we cruise down the gentle rapids. Next up its another class 5 although this one none of us noticed on the map so before we realize we are all dropping down the rapid somewhat unprepared. Now I've mentioned briefly before the crazy canyon grading system. This grade 5 the equivalent of a British grade 2+ has another one of the massive waves that's capable of flipping a raft. I scoot down with Rob, not wearing a spray deck I manage to keep a dry line. We quickly turn and signal back to the rafts. Everything looks good so we paddle on. Little are we aware of the carnage that's unfolding behind us. Anne and Scout punch through the big hole with a micro surf. Chuck however on her first real day helping the raft passes the oars over to JB to run the meat. Only slight problem is that at the time of change over JB is halfway through getting changed. In fact he's halfway through taking off his cag! Battling to release his hands from the latex seals in time to grab the oars before he hits the hole. JB hits the hole at 45 degrees with no speed, no BA or lid. The hole grabs the raft, quickly pulls it back onto the face of the wave and in a moment described by James as I thought 'oh s**t no, I thought I was going to die without my BA or helmet on!' tries to flip the raft. Chuck throws herself into the downstream side of the raft and JB battles against an oar trying to fight the flip and stay attached. Somehow, god only knows they manage to stay upright and Andy watching the carnage from behind picks up JB's BA and helmet the only things that didn't survive the freestyle on the raft.
Pumpkin Springs / Arsneic Eddie
After all the excitement we are all switched back on and fully alert as we run the rest of the rapids of the day. We reach Pumpkin Springs quite early and have time to finally relax. Pumpkin Springs is a funny little place. A random waterless waterfall next to the main Colorado flow. We thought it would be an exciting spring but it's not. It's just a groovy little pool of arsenic filled water and that's about it! There is also a random hole in the rocks about 200m upstream. About 1/2 meter wide and 10-12 feet deep it provides entertainment to us all as we climb in and out and through it taking loads of random shots. Impressively we manage to fit 7 people in it all at one time.

Rob's shattered after another long day on the canyon
After a little explore we set up camp amongst the rocks and red ants. Careful where I am sitting and putting my stuff I finally hang my wet sandy kit from the morning up to dry. Robs shattered so heads to bed early after dinner whilst the rest of us relax and watch the stars. I find a relaxing 'view point' to lie on the metal kitchen box whereas Chuck opts to lie on the floor. After awhile every one's just dropping off and Chucks begins to gently snore. Then out of nowhere Chuck screams and jumps out of bed. Startled we all jump up to see what's wrong. She's been bit by something on her hand. The reaction is a lot worse than we expect from a red ant bite so we are all a little concerned. She has pains shooting up her arm and also another bite on her head. We all tend to her with ice and getting the medical pack out. after a couple of minutes it dawns on me that we should check the sand and see if we can see what bit her. Antoine checks the sand with his hand to see if the bite is swelling up. Its then he spots it, the small bright orange scorpion! On Chucks jacket on her chest! Chuck scream and Andy and Ted instinctively each grab one of her hands to stop her touching the scorpion. Andy sweeps it off her chest sending it flying just missing JB and Anne uses a flip flop to take it away. Looking back we should have killed it so we could have kept it and looked at it properly.

Ginger Canyon Scorpion
Seeing he scorpion now helps everything make sense. No wonder Chucks in so much pain. The venom keeps shooting up and down her arm and does so through the night. The second scream brings Rob running out from his sleep unaware of what's going on he's worried by everyone running around grabbing medical kits. We load Chuck with med's and ice and help her into a tent. Up until now she's been sleeping out on the beach but the thought of getting stung again is not one she will like. I switch tents to be with Chuck and everyone sets up camp, off the sand! We chat for a few hours as a distraction from the strange pains in her arm. Loaded up with drugs the sting eases slightly but still prevents her from getting much sleep. The ranger had said it'll be a tough ride for 24hrs. Rob who has previously been stung by one too agrees. Chucks in for a pretty rough night.