Twig Adventures

GC Day 19: A Wakeup to Diamond Creek, Summary & Post-Trip

Friday, March 8th 2024
220 Mile camp to Diamond Creek mile 226
6 miles, elevation 1346′

I woke to the most condensation on my tent the whole trip. But it didn’t matter, since I didn’t plan to be setting up my tent again for awhile. I was packed by 6 am and helping get breakfast done as fast as possible. So was everyone else…we were on the water by 8 am! We were supposed to meet the outfitter by 10 am, and still had 6 miles to go, so we had a fire lit under us. We actually made it to the take out by 9:30 am, thus we were really moving this morning. As soon as we landed on the beach, gear and boat parts started flying every which way. The outfitter trucks also arrived early and the 2 employees immediately started helping, adding their expertise to the operation. I think we had all 5 rafts taken apart and our gear loaded before 11 am! Perhaps people were eager to get back to all the trappings of civilization (hot showers, cell reception, climate controlled spaces, etc).

I saw a neat graphic in my guidebook that noted the approximate elevation of Lees Ferry as it relates to Diamond Peak, so I replicated this in my picture. Note the 1700 feet we dropped during the course of our journey through the canyon!

We slowly made our way from the river, up a rough dirt road owned and maintained by the Hualapai nation. We paid extra for permits to take out at this location, the first accessible road since Lees Ferry. It took an hour just to get to pavement…and cell reception. Once we reached that threshold, things got very quiet as everyone caught up on 3 weeks of missed contact with the outside world. We stopped once to get some lunch in a tiny town and were back in Flagstaff by around 2:30 pm. Once again, gear was flying everywhere as we quickly unloaded the truck.

Before getting to Flagstaff, I started searching for buses back to Phoenix and was surprised to find that they were all sold out for the day. I guess the peak of Spring Break had started to hit. At the last minute, I checked a shuttle service to find that they had a trip with a few seats left, departing from the NAU campus just before 4pm. It turned out, they had so many students needing to get to the Phoenix airport that they chartered a 60 passenger bus. I didn’t even have time to buy the tickets online. Cleve rushed me over to the departure point (he drove his car to Flagstaff all the way from FL) and I paid the bus driver $65 in cash to let me on. I was in such a rush only because it was the last and only option this day, plus it saved my friend in Phoenix another round trip to come pick me up the next day. I could have stayed in Flagstaff with the rest of the group at an AirBnB, but this was by far the cheapest and simplest option.

Thank You!

In all my rush, I didn’t get a chance to say a very proper goodby to my group. So I wanted to take the opportunity here to express my gratitude for each and everyone’s unique contributions. First, thank you so much to Rob for giving me the opportunity to finally raft the Grand Canyon! I was so lucky to be a part of such a fantastic group, and he made it all possible. Thank you to the 5 boat captains: Rob, Magnus, Cleve, Chris, and Charlie N., for delivering us all safely through the canyon. Thank you to Leo for providing nightly entertainment with the guitar and his incredible voice. Thank you to Tina for being our Safety Advisor and for keeping track of and splitting all the expenses. Thank you to Dania for doing so much to organize this trip…the rest of us had little understanding of just how much time and effort she spent coordinating with the outfitter and herding all of us cats! Thank you to Lucas for his unrelenting positive attitude and help in everything on the water and in camp. Thank you to Lana for her amazing action pictures through the rapids. Thank you to Charlie A. for being our Camp Crier and providing the best jokes around the campfire. And last, thank you to Laura for reminding us that it sucked to lose a part of our team, even if it was planned from the beginning. I hope she gets to raft the whole canyon someday soon.

Grand Canyon Rafting Trip Summary

I don’t have a whole lot to say in summarizing this trip. Normally I do a separate final post about my hikes, tallying all the things like how many shoes I burned through, how many miles, etc. This trip was short enough that I’ll just make a brief effort of it here:

Dates: Sunday, February 18th (Day 0)-Friday, March 8th, 2024 …19 days on the water.
Distance Rafted: 226 miles (I missed a couple miles of this on the loop hike from Tapeats Creek to Deer Creek).
Distance Hiked: I hiked probably close to 30 miles in all. This included side trips to Nautiloid canyon, Nankoweap granaries, the Little Colorado river, Phantom Ranch, Elves Chasm, Fossil Canyon, Tapeats/ThunderRiver/Deer Creek loop, MatKat canyon, Havasu canyon, and P.arashant canyon
Distance I paddled the ducky: 11 miles. I also rowed one of the rafts maybe 5-10 miles in total.
Other raft groups seen: 4 (one of which were 4 rangers)
Days seeing no other people: 10
Trip participants: Rob Cava, Lucas Kohen, Emily Northrop, Charlie Northrop, Lana Maytak, Dania Trespalacios, Tina Schneider, Charlie Arazoza, Cleve Evans, Chris Carl, Magnus Sodamin, Leo Valencia, & me.

Longest I went without a shower: Technically 19 days, but I did bathe in the river several times.
Favorite Campsites: Hot Na Na, Fossil, Across Deer Creek, Parashant
Least favorite Campsites: Lees Ferry put-in, National
Nights tenting: 19
Coldest/hottest temps: 33/83
Injuries: dislocated shoulder, strained back, possible slight concussion, bad migraines a few days.
Wildlife seen: blue herons, bald eagle, ravens, canyon wrens, peregrine falcon, red tailed hawk, vultures (possibly California condors), bighorn sheep, lizards, scorpions, ants, Escalante beaver, elk (top of South Rim)


I wanted to add a brief summary of my week-long trip through Arizona after the rafting trip, including a return to the Grand Canyon South Rim for some tourist-ing. Mainly I wanted to include some beautiful shots I got of the GC canyon looking down instead of up, just to bring things full-circle. After meeting my partner in Phoenix, we drove a rental car down to Tucson for a few days, checking out Saguaro Nation Park, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and Biosphere II. I’d intended to mostly focus on the parks in northern AZ and southern UT (GC, Zion, and Bryce), but a winter storm blew in mid-week and lingered for days. Thus Tucson proved to be a much warmer and snow-free alternative to enjoy our time. Later, we headed north to spend a few days exploring Jerome, Cottonwood, Sedona, and Flagstaff. Flagstaff had more snow than when I first arrived in February!

A little over a week after getting off the river, we drove to the South Rim and spent the day walking along the Rim Trail and even a few miles down the South Kaibab Trail (the 3rd time I’ve hiked it). I still have never hiked any of the Bright Angel Trail and I wasn’t able to this time either, due to it being closed for the construction of a pipeline. In the afternoon, we rode the shuttle all the way to Hermits Rest…I’d never been out that way either. We visited all the stops, walking the Rim Trail between many of them. I was able to see the river a mile below and it had turned an ugly brown from all the rain and snow that week. I was even able to see Granite and Hermit rapids, but sadly no rafting groups ran them while I was watching. Some people must have been watching us weeks before, though!

Perhaps some of these mules helped deliver my postcards?
Note all the snow on the North Rim!
I loved all the shadows of the passing clouds this day.

Throughout the day, storms moved by, dropping snow along the rims and making for very dramatic scenes. I loved seeing the Grand Canyon in all the changing shades of light and snow. So beautiful! By the time we got back to the visitors center, the South Rim was blanketed by an intense blizzard! About 3 inches were dumped on the car in under and hour and we just barely made it out of there. I’d also hoped to camp on the South Rim, but thank goodness we had a hotel room in Flagstaff instead! The lows were also in the 20’s for several nights. The conditions this week were far worse than anything we had in 3 weeks total on the river. We got so lucky!

Thanks for following along on this trip and stay tuned for my next hike: The Benton MacKaye Trail, May 2024.

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