Keith and I are supposed to meet the rafters this morning at 8:00, so we leave camp around 7:45. It's a good thing we left early because they are ready to push off when we get there.
We load our packs into the raft, get in, strap on a life preserver, and we're off. This sure beats hoofing it down to Deer Creek. Our raft leader works for the Oregon Wildlife Department and is a very experienced rafter.
About half-way to Deer Creek Falls, we pass Christmas Tree Cave on our right. This is also the narrowest part of the entire Colorado River at only 76 feet wide.
The beach is vacant as we pull into Deer Creek Falls, the only time this has happened in my five times here. We walk over to the falls for a few pictures and then start the climb to the top.
The views at the top looking down and upriver are fantastic. The River is flowing a dark muddy brown color.
We start up the Narrows toward the Patio and marvel at the striations cut deep into the rock by the flowing water. I wonder how many years it took to do that.
While there is some minor exposure in this section, it doesn't normally present a problem with no pack or only a day pack. However, this is the first time I've come this way carrying a full pack. One very narrow section with a protruding rock is a little trickier with a pack, so Keith gets down on all fours to pass it.
After walking through the Narrows, we approach the Patio, one of the prettiest sections in this area. Then it's on to our camping spot north of here.
We are the only ones at the two camp spots, so we sit down and relax a while. After lunch, a female solo hiker arrives. She is a doctor in Tucson and has come all the way from Upper Tapeats. She said she left there at 4:00 AM. That's quite the trek in one day. She has the other campsite tonight, but decides to leave this afternoon for a dry camp on the Esplanade.
Since Keith and I now have both campsites to ourselves, I set up my tent in the group site and Keith takes the other site. Several of the rafters come through camp headed up to Deer Spring to see the rock chairs in the Throne Room. Later this afternoon we meet a young couple on a day hike here from Monument Point. That's pretty hard core.
Keith and I have two nights here on our permit. However, since we got here so early today, neither of us is enthusiastic about hanging around all day tomorrow. We agree to leave at around 6:00 tomorrow morning so we can reach Deer Spring around first light at 6:30. That way Keith can see all the neat stone chairs in the Throne Room, we can take some good pictures, and still get up to the Esplanade before it gets too hot.