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Team: South
Sunday, September 1, 2002
Colorado River, Phantom Ranch in Grand Canyon NP
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Dawn in the Grand Canyon.

Dawn in the Grand Canyon.
Courtesy Lorie McGraw

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The various levels of the Colorado Plateau are exposed by the erosion of the Colorado River.

The various levels of the Colorado Plateau are exposed by the erosion of the Colorado River.
Courtesy Lorie McGraw

Today is an exciting day for Team South--at least for those who are on the river. Plenty of whitewater and some of the Grand Canyon's biggest rapids follow eahc other in quick succession. The excitement starts with Unkar Rapid, a 25-foot drop just below camp. Unkar is a Class 6 or 7 rapid (on a scale of 1-10)depending on the water level. Three and a half miles below Unkar comes Nevills Rapid, a Class 6, fifteen-foot drop named after pioneer river runner Norm Nevills who, in 1938, led the first commercial river party through the Canyon. Nevills Rapid is a warmup for something far more serious: Hance Rapid, a boulder-choked, thirty-foot drop which is Class 8, 9 or 10, depending on the flow. Hance is the first of the three biggies coming up and it is followed by Sockdologer Rapid (nineteen-foot drop, Class 8-9) a scant mile and a half later, then, two miles below, by Grapevine Rapid, an eighteen-foot Class 8 drop.

Below Hance the river enters the Grand Canyon's Inner Gorge. Here the Colorado is enclosed by dark-grey walls of Vishnu Schist, laced with pinkish-red veins of Zoroaster Granite. The Vishnu is the oldest exposed formation in the Canyon--estimated at 1.7 billion years. Below Grapevine small rapids and riffles follow each other until Phantom Ranch at the mouth of Bright Angel Canyon. Here Cathy, Julie, Jessica, Jake, Jan, and Richard will say goodbye to their fellow passengers who continue on downstream.

Phantom Ranch had its start in 1903 when David Rust established a tourist camp at the mouth of Brighyt Angels Creek. Several years later he constructed a cable car over the river linking the north and south rims. In 1921 the Fred Harvey Company built the present camp and named it Phantom Ranch, after a nearby creek. Rust's cable car is gone but the river is now spanned by two bridges, the only bridge crossing of the Colorado between Marble Canyon and Lake Mead.
for Sunday, September 1
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