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The Rogue hits the Grand Canyon – part 2 of 3
So by now, we’re getting into the expedition groove.  We have our daily rituals of breakfast, taking down camp, packing our boats.  I tape my hands.  “Hey Carl, where’s the groover wrench?”  (Carl was the only one to bring a wrench.)  We usually made it out of camp sometime around 10:30 or later, getting a little more efficient with each day.
And here we begin day 4.  Day 4 is the best day I have ever had on a river, and I’m not sure life gets any better this.  We paddled 30 miles and most of the big rapids of the trip, excluding Crystal and Lava.  This includes Hance, Sockdolager, Horn, Granite, and Hermit.  We didn’t scout a thing, just followed the vague descriptions in the guidebook and kept moving downstream.
Hance was the first big rapid we faced, and it was amazing.  I blew my line and didn’t make it left, going straight into some big holes.  Loaded boats are a beautiful thing; I plowed right through the holes with no trouble.  We did have a swimmer here, one of three swims on the trip… ok, ok… I will admit I swam on day 2 at one of the smaller rapids.  Seems I forgot how to roll, which was a little discouraging considering we hadn’t made it to any of the big rapids yet.  Thankfully, my roll returned for day 4.
Next up was lunch at Phantom Ranch.  Here we mailed post cards to loved ones, got to use the flush toilets and bought some delicious M&Ms.  While that was nice, I found it a little weird to see people and civilization.  I was ready to get away from civilization right after lunch, to take on the most fun section of river on the trip.
Granite was a favorite of our crew, a long class IV+ rapid with big waves running up against a wall.  My favorite rapid was Horn, a fun one to charge into the meat of!  Hermit contained the biggest waves I’ve ever paddled, and was just a big, fun wave train.  After Hermit, we floated three miles of flatwater to camp above Crystal on day 4.
This set us up to start day 5 with a bang.  With my soaring confidence from having gone from swimming easy rapids to charging the meat, I decided not to take a close look scouting and knew I wanted to try and be to the right of the big hole. Did you know that it’s totally possible to throw ends in a sea kayak? Well it is! The first member of our crew did this in Crystal. A few of us were not nearly far enough right and went straight into the meat of the gigantic hole. At least it’s flushy because this is where I was humbled by the Colorado and took my second swim.
After Crystal, we paddled a couple of miles to a fun section of river called “The Gems,” a few mid-grade and fun rapids.  After that was another fun rapid called Serpentine, requiring an S-turn and a move around a pourover.  Another highlight of day 5 was hanging out at Elves Chasm, where Bill took the plunge and lost his sunglasses.
Day 6 was, of course, another amazing day, because every day in the canyon is amazing.  We had lunch at Deer Creek Falls where we met some very nice rafters.  They gave us beer, and they gave me Udder Cream after seeing my taped up mummy-like hands.  Upset rapid was the big rapid of the day and was another favorite of mine.  There’s a big hole in the middle that you’re supposed to avoid.  I entered left and nailed a big lateral wave with the wrong angle and flipped over, sending me upside down into the big hole.  I rolled up just in time to punch through it.  My general impression of Grand Canyon rapids is that they are not only big and fun but also quite forgiving.
We made it to the Ledges, which was one of my favorite campsites.  There are these cool rock ledges which gave us a much needed break from the sand.  Now, I know it sounds obvious that there’s a lot of sand in the Grand Canyon, and you’re camping on beaches in the sand… but… the sand gets everywhere, in everything.  Your gear, your food, your mouth, your contact lenses, everywhere!  The ledges provide a lovely break.
To be continued…  Stay tuned for the final installment of the Rogue’s Grand Canyon expedition!