|A VISIT WITH JIM SWEDBERG [Continued]
Jim puts his kayak in at Lees Ferry near Marble Canyon. He takes it out at Diamond Point on the Haulapi Indian Reservation. In order to take the boats out of the river at this point he must buy a permit from the Haulapi. This makes a run of 225 miles on the Colorado of which about 20 miles is heart pumping thrilling white water. Jim has traveled this adrenalin pumping route twice, both times in the October November time frame. But at this time of year the sun is low to the horizon so he only got 2 to 3 hours of direct sunlight in the bottom of the Canyon. When the river turns westward he got a little more sun during the paddling hours.
This is a chilly trip besides the lack of direct sun the water temperature, Jim estimates, is around 35 – 38 degrees. The water for the river is released from the bottom of the dam on Lake Powell which is very deep. The kayak he uses on the Colorado is an 11 foot long fiberglass/Kevlar kayak called a VAMPIRE. It is faster in the straight line and moves better in the flat water which makes up most of the run.
Jim tells of the four major white water rapids he encountered Granite, Hermit, Crystal and Lava. Since this trip takes about14 to 21 days’ kayakers have to have an equipment raft traveling with them. The equipment rafts are loaded very heavy with food and gear for this length of trip. But because these rafts can carry so much weight they dined on fresh and frozen meals through out the trip, on his trips, this raft was piloted by Wayne Failing.
There are 30 to 40 named rapids that you must pay attention to and perhaps 80 to 100 little blips that provided Jim with lots of fun play time on them, however the BIG FOUR as he called them occupied about 4 days of the trip.
Granite has big fat waves and curves slightly to the right so the water piles up against the boulders on one side and eroded them smooth as the river drops and turns. This rapid can be seen from the south rim.
Hermit is next, here the river narrows but is straight. In Hermit there are 7 or 8 waves that are 15 to 20 feet high. In this narrow white water Jim felt like he was going 70 miles per hour.
These first two rapids appear fairly straight forward when viewed from above but you set up your approach to them carefully so as to not have any difficulties. The next two are much more technically demanding and here your approach is extremely critical.
Crystal, next, has some holes and you must have the strength and ability to avoid them. Here the canyon walls are close in giving a great sense of speed. Jim thought he was doing 100 miles per hour thru here.
As you continue on down river thru many small rapids you come upon a giant lava plug in the river. This is a towering structure that was the lava column of an ancient volcano of which the mountain has eroded away. Here boaters do their best to get right up to it in order to place a kiss for luck on it, because you are certainly going to need a bit of luck at the next rapid, Lava.
Lava is by far the largest of the rapids Jim encountered on the trip and after making it thru he was thankful that it was the last. The biggest adrenalin rush was saved for last. If you survive Lava, Jim says, you have it made...
Now you are faced with a flat water paddle to the takeout at Diamond Point.
These two trips thru the Canyon must have been really exciting as you could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice when he told of his run thru rapids. Jim is in the planning of another trip in April of 2006
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