River Painting Trip: Post 6 - critters, textures and oddities

It wasn't all vast sweeping views, towering glowing cliffs, emerald waters and painting... the canyon is also, well, odd. There are textures and shapes, critters and dead things. Here are some of my favorite strange things from the river trip.

Critters. Crows, Turkey Vultures, Ringtail Cats, BATS, Swallows, Big Horn Sheep, BONES, Lizards, Song Birds and Fish... and thankfully I saw NO SNAKES.

My crow friend. Actually, he's a thief.

My crow friend. Actually, he's a thief.

Just stopped by to say hello

Just stopped by to say hello

This little fella was about 9" long

This little fella was about 9" long

Everyone got excited when we'd spot a Big Horn Sheep

Everyone got excited when we'd spot a Big Horn Sheep

Another sighting...

Another sighting...

A not so lucky Big Horn Sheep. Found at camp.

A not so lucky Big Horn Sheep. Found at camp.

Assuming this is the leg to the skull...

Assuming this is the leg to the skull...

This 3" flying creature is a Tarantula Hawk Wasp. Nasty, nasty

This 3" flying creature is a Tarantula Hawk Wasp. Nasty, nasty

I'm a fan of design in nature. I see the shapes and the movement and the colors... here is some of the specialness that caught my eye!

Geology!

Geology!

Gorgeous granite!

Gorgeous granite!

We had to skirt this giant Lava Rock sitting in the middle of the river.

We had to skirt this giant Lava Rock sitting in the middle of the river.

Pumpkin Spring rock... Mile 212.9. This is travertine, which is a form of limestone and also contains high levels of arsenic and lead.

Pumpkin Spring rock... Mile 212.9. This is travertine, which is a form of limestone and also contains high levels of arsenic and lead.

The Vishnu Schist looked like Rodin sculptures to me

The Vishnu Schist looked like Rodin sculptures to me

Sun rainbow!

Sun rainbow!

My first time to see a 'Sundog' or Fire rainbow. It was particularly HOT this day

My first time to see a 'Sundog' or Fire rainbow. It was particularly HOT this day

River Painting Trip: Post 5 - side tripping

Most river rafting trips down the Colorado include side trips to hike to waterfalls or unique views or Anasazi Indian ruins. Because we were painters, we wanted as much time at each camp location to paint which meant that in large part we would forego side trips and save our time for painting.

Thankfully, we weren't 'all work!' and were able to experience some of the side treasures in the canyon. These were some of my trip highlights!

Approaching Redwall Cavern, mile 33.2

Approaching Redwall Cavern, mile 33.2

Actually just a lunch spot... but not just any-old-lunchspot! This was a great spot to appreciate the size of the canyon. Can you see the boats on the beach? We ate lunch at this spectacular canyon and had a bit of time to explore and soak-up the immense space that the river waters carved out in the wall of the canyon. So unique! 

See the people sitting on the beach?! Mile 33.3

See the people sitting on the beach?! Mile 33.3

The Little Colorado. This river confluence, where the Little Colorado meets the Colorado, provided us with a small hike up river to play in some rapids and gawk at the gorgeous pale blue water. The contrast between the orange cliffs and this pale water was spectacular. 

Confluence. Pale blue water meets emerald green water. Mile 61.7

Confluence. Pale blue water meets emerald green water. Mile 61.7

Yes, I sported a waterproof fanny pack and a sarong most of the trip.

Yes, I sported a waterproof fanny pack and a sarong most of the trip.

'Flour water' is the minute particles of dissolved travertine and limestone in the water. 

'Flour water' is the minute particles of dissolved travertine and limestone in the water. 

Riding the little rapids on the Little Colorado

Riding the little rapids on the Little Colorado

I LOVE the contrast of the pale water and orange canyon!

I LOVE the contrast of the pale water and orange canyon!

Mile 117, Elves Chasm

After a short scramble we were rewarded with this jewel!

After a short scramble we were rewarded with this jewel!

I was SO TEMPTED to climb up into the Chasm to jump... 2 people did - but the water was so cold you thought your heart would stop.

I was SO TEMPTED to climb up into the Chasm to jump... 2 people did - but the water was so cold you thought your heart would stop.

Mile 136.9, Deer Creek Falls

First glimpse at Deer Creek Falls

First glimpse at Deer Creek Falls

Just a short walk, some traversing through tadpole water, over narrow rock bridges and under some brush... you come to THIS sight!

Powerful and LOUD, Deer Creek Falls

Powerful and LOUD, Deer Creek Falls

Backing up as close as I could!

Backing up as close as I could!

Mile 157, Havasu Creek

Havasu Falls is famous for its vivid blue-green water. You also need a permit to visit them. We were able to hike the Havasu Creek up to a series of plunge pools, spillways and giant boulders. The hike was on a very narrow and precarious pathway from the Colorado River. It was so nice to be off the boat, stretch the legs, stand in cool water (not so cold it hurt!) and enjoy this very special area.

That's a long way down, beautiful though!

That's a long way down, beautiful though!

Hiking up Havasu Creek, mile 157

Hiking up Havasu Creek, mile 157

River fashion in all its glory

River fashion in all its glory

Fording the creek

Fording the creek

River Painting Trip: Post 2 - sleep on it

All but one night we slept under the stars on cots. Each of us scurried off the boat at the end of the day to select our camp for the night. Some liked to group together, others preferred to find a corner to themselves - I tried both! Here are some of my favorite 'bedrooms!'

My 'bedroom' at mile 47 1/2, Upper Saddle Camp

My 'bedroom' at mile 47 1/2, Upper Saddle Camp

My 'bedroom' at Mile 115, Lower Garnet Camp.

My 'bedroom' at Mile 115, Lower Garnet Camp.

My 'bedroom' at Panchos Kitchen, mile 137 1/2. I stuck driftwood into the rock crevasses to hang my clothes.

My 'bedroom' at Panchos Kitchen, mile 137 1/2. I stuck driftwood into the rock crevasses to hang my clothes.

Last bedroom of the trip, I was the only one to sleep right on the river, loved listening the the rapids all night. Three Springs, mile 216 1/2.

Last bedroom of the trip, I was the only one to sleep right on the river, loved listening the the rapids all night. Three Springs, mile 216 1/2.

Not to be overlooked... there is the potty situation. Tucked away as best possible, a lovely diamond plate commode was set up at every camp. A hand washing station and bag of TP was at a pathway before the potty, so if the TP bag was missing... it was in use!

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River Painting Trip: Post 1 - 280 miles

... and that would be the full length of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon! May 17 – May 24th. Launched at Lees Ferry and disembarked at Pearce Ferry.

Usually described as 'a trip of a lifetime' my 8 days on the river did not disappoint. I signed up for this trip one year and one month ago! Arizona artist Cody DeLong has organized these trips for painters for the past 9 years and this trip was his 10th. Grand Canyon Expedition Company was our rafting company and two fabulous women, Den and Hannah, loaded all our gear, fed us, entertained us and above all - guided us expertly through the renowned rapids of the Colorado River

Just look at the colors in the water!

Just look at the colors in the water!

The light in the canyon is beautiful. The reflections in the already gorgeous and surprisingly GREEN water of the river was stunning and oranges, pinks and bright blue seemed just as at home on the emerald green river as they did on the canyon walls and bright blue sky of Arizona.

Our river guide, Den

Our river guide, Den

Each day we'd wake at 5:15, disassemble our cots (yes! we slept under the stars!) and pack up our sleeping bags and by 5:30 we'd hear this sweet melody from our lead guide Den... "HHHHHHHHOT COFFEEEEEEEE!" Coffee-in-thermos-in-hand we'd each head back to our sleep spot to pack up our clothes and sundry items in day bags and ammo cans. The light first thing in the morning on the river is beautiful and the day isn't yet super hot so for painters this is the magic time. As the guides made breakfast and started packing items back onto the boat, we would paint/draw/write. In total, we were 2 guides and 12 painters of different media (watercolor, oil, pastel) and a writer.

Artists pack A LOT OF STUFF! The beige dry bags are just our clothes. We also had blue bags with sleeping bags/pads and a tarp.

Artists pack A LOT OF STUFF! The beige dry bags are just our clothes. We also had blue bags with sleeping bags/pads and a tarp.

Hannah (left) our Swamper (aka guide in training) and Den our master River Guide!

Hannah (left) our Swamper (aka guide in training) and Den our master River Guide!

A boatload of artists.... and GEAR!

A boatload of artists.... and GEAR!