Through Lava Falls Rapid to Upper Chevron Camp

The waning moon was peeking through the clouds at 6:50 AM while we enjoyed our morning coffee awaiting breakfast at Love Nest Camp. Before coffee I spent quite a while cleaning sand off everything from the windy night. My little Poldar alarm clock was toast. Fortunately my cameras had been safely stowed in Pelican cases.

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By a bit after 9 AM we were working our way down the river.

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I was riding with Nick in the bow, so I had a great view upstream for photography.

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It was a leisurely morning punctuated by a few exciting rapids.

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A little before 11 AM we stopped at a beautiful beach with reddish and white sand. I didn’t recall why when I first published this page. But Charlie emailed me to remind me that the morning was very windy. I now remember the wind was in our faces. I didn’t pay much attention to it because I was sitting quietly in the Dory holding a camera and not struggling hard to make forward progress downstream. The reason we stopped was to give the boatman a rest. While they let their arm muscles recover, I photographed the patterns in the sand.

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I believe the spot in the photo below is something special. But I guess I wasn’t taking good notes this day. Still it is pretty with nice light.

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We passed Vulcan’s Anvil, a 50-foot tall remnant from a volcano that erupted about 20,000 years ago. We were getting into the huge lava field and seeing small boulders and impressive lava walls.

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We pulled out to scout Lava Falls Rapid, the largest and most challenging rapid of the trip.

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Jill told me she had run Lava Falls three times previously. Twice with Nick, and they made it through fine. Once with someone else, and she wound up underneath an overturned dory. For this time through the rapid she was in the bow with me, in Nick’s boat.

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The photo below of Lava Falls Rapids is a composite of 9 shots. You can click this image to zoom way in then pan around. Please wait for the resolution to download. You can also use the + and – keys to zoom and the arrow keys to scroll. Or use the scroll wheel to zoom and the left mouse to drag.

Unfortunately, our dory was the last to run Lava Falls, so I did not get a chance to “park” downstream and photograph the action. When I came up for air after we hit some big standing waves, I saw someone swimming. Turns out Boatman Lew was swept overboard. But he had a very well-trained dory; it smoothly cruised to the left shore where the other boats were waiting. Pat and Stephen in the bow never knew he was gone; they kept asking, “is it was OK to bail now?”, but got no answer. Emma, who was in the stern with KayLee, considered grabbing the oars but feared she might hit swimming Lew over the head if she did. Client Nick got some distant and shaky videos which never-the-less showed some of the action. It inspired and recorded the now-famous yell from Boatman Nick, “Put that camera down and get Lew”, just before the video very abruptly ended.

Stephen again was a big hit with his iPad. The slide show below was taken while he played and replayed Nick’s video.

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We camped at Upper Chevron near a very impressive lava wall. Rain threatened, so we all pitched tents. Some pitched near the wet sand along the beach, others up high and dry in tight quarters in the “brush”. You can see my tent and the lava wall followed by the beach and my tent with Stephen’s nearby.

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The rain came around 7 PM, bedtime anyway. So it was no big deal. We did a lot on this trip, but we also slept a lot because of the shorter-than-summer days. Here are two more photos of the beach at Upper Chevron, taken before dinner, followed by a slide show of more of the photos from Day 15.

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