Twig Adventures

GC Day 18: Rain Day

Thursday, March 7th 2024
Parashant Camp mile 199 to 220 Mile (middle) camp
21 miles, elevation 1390′

I woke up to the smell of rain on the air…it’s very distinguishable in the desert. After many nights in the backcountry, it also acted as a sort of alarm bell for me. I detested packing a wet tent, after all. I sprang out of bed and quickly broke my camp. This proved to be a good call since shortly after 7 am, I felt the first drops. We needed to be quick about getting on the river this day, since we had a lot of miles to cover, so it helped that the rain spurred everyone along. So too did my screaming from the kitchen area. While getting breakfast prepped, a centipede wriggled out from beneath the ground tarp and my feet. It sent me dancing and screaming profanities. Yes, the same person that intentionally seeks out scorpions with a black light is also terrified of centipedes. They’re the only thing I have a phobia of, what can I say? Poor Leo, whose tent was stationed feet away from the kitchen, came flying out to see what was wrong. He laughed and rolled his eyes when I told him the reason for my distress. At least I got him up!

We were on the river just as the rain started to come down steadily. What perfect timing, since most of us were dressed in our drysuits anyway! The benefit of being prepared to get splashed or go for a swim in the river is that you are also well protected from rain. The canyon was shrouded in mist and clouds, creating an otherworldly effect. It was quite the contrast from the scorched desert look we were used to seeing. Now it seemed like a scene from the Scottish Highlands. It was also very wide in places, offering some striking views. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of this because I was a bit cold and didn’t want to pull my phone out of its case.

The wasn’t much to do all day but sit in the boat while the rain came down, sometimes pretty heavy. I really wished I could row, just to stay warm, but figured this wasn’t a good idea less than a week since I injured my shoulder. I felt up to it, though. Cleve expertly guided us through our last Class 6 rapid at mile 205. It was easy. There were another few Class 5’s at Mile 209 & 218, again no sweat. After 14 miles, we passed Pumpkin Spring, the only hot springs along the canyon. It was reported to be contaminated by arsenic and therefore off limits for soaking…the hot tub we made the night before was way better. I don’t think anyone was up for a soak in the rain, anyway. Likewise when we came to the “Diving Board” a mile later. It’s a 35′ high rock that sticks out over the river, perfect for thrill-seekers and high divers. I’m sure it’s a blast when it’s hot and sunny, but this certainly wasn’t the day for it.

The remaining miles passed by very quickly, especially since the rain started to let up and the day became warmer and less gloomy. By the time we reached camp (at only 2 pm!), the clouds were breaking up. As rain storms go, the was the most perfect we could have asked for! The timing was excellent, especially considering how much it would have sucked if it came a day later while we were unpacking and de-rigging. We set up our camp for the last time, only bringing out 2 of the 3 kitchen tables, anticipating a quick departure the next morning. We tried to use as many leftovers as we could for dinner. The menu had us preparing ‘boil-in-a-bag’ chicken breasts in a marinara sauce, which was interesting. Leo also made a very unusual meatloaf with hardboiled eggs cooked inside, ready to be reheated for breakfast.

A few of us also used the extra time to go for our last hike. We searched for more turquoise in a wash (found none) and roamed aimlessly around the area. We discovered all too late that we should have stopped upstream at the first 220 camp, as it had a much better communal area and campsites, plus a wide, easily-accessible beach. I noted many fresh footprints, plus tell-tale rectangular dry spots that indicated tents occupying space throughout the rain (I’m an expert at reading the signs left by other hikers and campers). It seemed that a group had just left before us, only as the rain was letting up. We wondered if they were our arch-rivals, the Americans, or another group that we had yet to catch/meet. Regardless, they’d moved on down the river and unless they were taking out at Diamond Creek the next day, we wouldn’t be seeing them again.

We reveled a bit overnight, getting rid of what was left of the alcohol (not much!). I partook a bit, no longer worried about getting migraines. It was a nice capstone for our last night on the river.

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