Monday, May 21, 2012

Day 21 - 'Night Float'

Pumping water on the beach first thing in the morning
We wake early to find we have visitors. We are camped at the site of a tragic accident many years ago where a few early explorers died. There's a plaque on one of rocks in memory of the paddlers so another groups stopped to take a look. They don't stay long though as they have arrived midway through our communal shower session and have found me, Andy, Anne and JB showering in the icy waters photographed (of course) by Antoine. It's Andy's first shower of the trip and he screams as I pour the ice cold water through his hair.
Icy cold shower time in the canyon
Yesterday because of the head wind we only covered 7 miles so we have a lot of distance to do today. We set off and after an hour or so of flowing flat water  we raft together for a floating lunch. We continue to raft/float the whole day stopping only briefly for a relief break at the site of the only eco toilet on the river and the worst I've ever seen and we chat to some guys who work on a monster power raft who kindly donate us some ice. 
Claire O Cooling down by flipping of the raft into the cold water
We are still short on miles we have over 40 left to do so we decide tonight will be our night float. From 230 miles to 280 miles there are not a lot/ no really campsites so it's common practice to night float this stretch. 
Night floating the canyon (prior to the head torch ban)
Night floating involves tying the rafts together, piling all the boats, kit and people on board and with a couple of people taking shifts to steer the boats float on through the night. We start our night float at 9pm and finally pull up to sleep on an awesome narrow ledge at about 4.30am after covering 22 miles! I would highly recommend a night float to anyone it's surreal! You can see the canyon walls all around and very little else. Luckily Rob has insane night vision and Scout has great guessing skills and managed to guide us with Andy at the helm safely down the canal like channel with only 2 big bumps. 
Imagine this image but in the pitch black and that was our night float navigation technique
Ted had the best sleeping arrangement passed out on a thermarest on the table deck at the front of the boat. Everyone else squeezed in on top of bags, boats, fridges. I was great! 
Girls sleeping on the raft
Boys sleeping on the ledge
Highlights if the night are 1) it's a full moon but it's nowhere to be seen! 2) JB and me almost being wiped out off the raft by a tree (on Scouts shift) 3) crashing into the only undercut rocks on the river (Scout again) 4) hearing all the sand slides 5) peeing in a bucket on board the raft... the less said about that the better!