South Canyon to Eminence Camp

Our third day started with a hike, carrying our OARS-supplied mugs filled with coffee. Breakfast would have to wait until we visited Stanton’s Cave. Surveyor Robert Stanton ended his first trip through the Grand Canyon here in South Canyon in 1989. Here are two views from the cave looking upstream toward our camp and downstream at Vasey’s Paradise. The slide show at the bottom of this page has some photos of the cave itself. Some of the caves in the Redwall Limestone go back miles. They are formed by erosion caused by springs.



After breakfast and packing up we cruised by Vasey’s Paradise, a lush area nourished by a stream and small waterfall emerging from the Redwall. You can tell in this photo that one of the plants that thrives here is poison ivy, perhaps planted by the park folks to keep people from coming on shore here. Powell named this spot in honor of a botanist on one of his voyages down the river.

Soon after Vasey’s Paradise we turned a corner and landed at the amazing Redwall Cavern. I raced inside and started shooting like mad. The photo below is a composite of 9 individual shots. I certainly did not have a lens wide enough to do what I wanted with a single shot.


We posed for a group shot. I took several photos, then Stephen took a few more with my camera. I combined them to show the full group. Can you tell which figure(s) were added to the photo below? (The answer is below.)



It is not Stephen on the left who was added to the group photo above but the 5 people on the right side of the image.

Roger suggested a line-up shot and made a panorama with his iPhone. I then left the line to make a single shot of the group.

It is hard to describe how immense the cavern is; photos don’t do it justice. Powell thought it would seat 50,000 and that could be correct. You can perhaps get some sense of its size by comparing the height of the three people in the center front of the photo below with the people down by the water’s edge behind them.


The reflections outside the cavern were beautiful. I was shooting like mad and still did not have time to make as many photos at this magical spot as I wished. But it was a good thing I stopped. We had been on the river for less than 48 hours and I was already worrying about conserving limited battery power for the whole trip. I turned my power-consuming camera monitors off, which I should have done earlier. I would do without the instant feedback for most images and just check the exposure (especially the “blinkies”) for a few critical ones.



045Jim about to head downhill fast crop

I took a bow ride this day. A bit scary but a lot of fun if you don’t mind getting totally soaked. One sits on the very front of the bow holding on to the small tip of the bow between your legs with both hands. I got several whole body doses of water — seemed like a bathtub full of 45 degree water hit me.

Stephen took the photo of me on the bow (right) and the one of Sarge taking a bow ride just before me (below). Stephen had to put his camera away before my bow ride; I was not the only person in the boat that got soaked.

046Rondo giving Sarge splashy ride crop2


We glided by a dogtooth spar geode, below, and then passed the Bridge of Sighs.


When we reached a small rapids I was able to get some semi-action photos because this one did not threaten to douse my camera. There are two dories in the photo here. I was constantly amazed at how close together they would be in the rapids.


The light in the canyon was amazing.


We stopped at the Marble Canyon dam site for lunch.


In the 1950s this spot was proposed for a dam that would have flooded all the beautiful spots we passed through so far on this trip. Fortunately it met with substantial opposition, notably from the Sierra Club. The proposed dam was finally abandoned in 1968. One of the exploratory holes, which was drilled in the Redwall Limestone of the canyon walls in an early phase of the project, can be seen above the pile of drilling rubble in the photo on the left.

We hiked up to the drill hole while some of the crew prepared lunch below us. When I took the photo below left I was standing on the edge of the rubble pile. You can see our 4 dories and 3 supply rafts. In the photo at the right, taken from the same spot, you can see (clockwise from top left) the green and red hand-washing station, the lunch preparations, some of the lunch supplies, and the buffet table with some hors d’oeuvre.




While some of us waited for lunch, Nick fished and I photographed the beach and sun peeking over the Redwall canyon walls downstream. The canyon walls are narrow here, a great spot for a damn dam. The majestic walls are not marble but limestone. “Marble Canyon” is a misnomer; there is no marble here.

Although Powell knew this when he named the canyon, he thought the polished limestone looked like marble. In his words, “The limestone of the canyon is often polished, and makes a beautiful marble. Sometimes the rocks are of many colors – white, gray, pink, and purple, with saffron tints”. Amen. President Johnson made Marble Canyon a national monument during his last days in office in January 1969, ensuring the area federal protection.


Some beautiful sights greeted us as we paddled downsteam to our camp for the evening at Eminence.


We camped near the Eminence Break Fault and hiked 800 feet — seemed like 1600 feet — above the river before dinner. Here are views looking downstream toward our camp (L) and upstream.



Below left is Charlie on the edge of the cliff. In the photo on the right Tony has joined him. Our dinner is being prepared just to the left of the river far below.



At the campfire after our dinner, which featured smoked oysters, cheese, and pickled garlic as appetizers and kielbasa and cheeseburgers with beans, salad, and sauerkraut as the main course, Charlie was up to his old self making faces for the camera. And he did it twice.


Sean serenaded us in the style of Arlo Gruthrie, and Stephen reviewed the day’s photos on his iPad.



Here are some more photos from an outstanding Day 3.