All model shots courtesy PORTER magazine.
Enjoy this, out third and last guest post from Greg–for this trip, anyway.
Nighttime in the Grand Canyon adds another dimension to darkness for me.
Towering walls rise up almost a mile above the Colorado River to touch the night sky, soft sand wraps around our sleeping bags in a warm embrace, and the river of darkness between the canyon cliffs overhead is filled with so many bright stars that most nights, the ground is visible without the aid of a flashlight. Darkness in the Grand Canyon is filled with light, and my favorite light comes from the campfire after dinner.
Photo by Nate Pickens
We throw another log onto the bed of half-spent coals in the fire pan, sink deep into our camp chairs…and take a long breath. No rapids to scout, no river to run, no boats to wrangle.
The banter is lively as we replay the day – the heroic runs, the botched lines, and the close calls. Laughter and teasing settles into quiet conversation and reflection as we enjoy the flames of the fire and each other’s presence. Together, we unwind from the challenges of the day. Sometimes the only sound in our circle of camp chairs comes from the flickering fire and the river (and occasionally, snoring from Tony). We listen to the river every second of every waking hour and we hear it in our sleep. Darkness in the canyon is filled with the sounds of the river and laughter from the circle.
When we’re talked out, we fold our chairs, and one by one, leave the warmth of the fire. Sometimes two or three of us take the campfire conversation deeper into the night. The smoke from the fire follows us to our sleeping bags and tucks us in. Our best and our worst is on display in the stressful situations of the canyon and in the solitude of my bedroll each night, I sort through which of those “won the day” – and then I sleep.
Darkness in the canyon is filled with the smoky smell of a campfire and self reflection.
Photo by Izzy Collett
Brightly colored tents sit below the steep rock walls of the canyon. Some are scattered between boulders and sagebrush or even clustered in bunches on the sand banks of the river. They glow with a dreamy light.
Some nights there is a special sound to the darkness as Izzy plays a Native American wood flute while she sits on her boat. The rich low sounds are from a different time and place. Authentic music mingles with the smoke trails and travels up the canyon on its way to the stars.
It adds a richness to the experience that I will never forget.
The darkness in the canyon is filled with the haunting sounds of the Anasazi flute.
Photo by Dave Mortenson
In the daylight, my canvas tent blends with the light tan color of the sand. It’s the same material they used for tents and bags on the 1964 trip we are replicating. I use the tent when there is a threat of rain or I want a break from the strong winds and blowing sand.
When we’re not in tents, we sleep on the open ground with nothing overhead except the stars in the night-sky. The distance we hike away from the river to throw our bags down on shore is in direct proportion to the energy we have left at the end of a day spent rowing heavy boats through heavy rapids. Most of the bags are within 100 feet of the boats on the sand banks above the river. Some mornings we wake up as part of a sand dune and have to shake our way out of our bags.
Photo by Greg Hatten
Many nights we sleep on the boats. It’s my favorite place to spend the night. Down here boats are life… they’re everything. We row them through the valley of death and they deliver us from evil… repeatedly. They carry everything we own and faithfully get us to our next campsite at the end of our rowing day. They “connect” us to the river with a bond that’s hard to explain. We love our boats.
All covered up in our warm blankets, we peek out in the dark and occasionally see a falling star in the night sky as the water gently slaps the sides of the boat and the river rocks us to sleep. On “two-blanket” nights it’s cold enough to see our breath – which makes the blankets feel even warmer and the boats seem even cozier.
The darkness in the canyon is filled with cold cheeks, cold noses and gently rocking boats.
Marble Canyon Tunnel – Photo by Robb Grubb
The darkest dark I found in the canyon wasn’t on the boats at night. It was in an exploratory tunnel drilled deep in the side of Marble Canyon where construction had begun in the 1950s on one of the last proposed dam projects in the west.
A couple of us tied off our boats on river left and scrambled up the loose shale to the mouth of the tunnel – a hundred feet above the river. From that elevated vantage point, the canyon looked spectacular. I tried to imagine a dam in this special spot and couldn’t. We turned from the river, climbed over the railroad ties and boulders guarding the entrance, and crawled through a portal into the heart of the Marble Canyon wall.
Marble Canyon Entry – Photo by Robb Grubb
Twenty feet in and we were covered in darkness. Real deep dark heavy darkness…. an eerie black quiet darkness… and I thought of orcs, and goblins, and the Lord of the Rings. We turned on a laser light, splashed our way through the puddles on the packed-dirt floor and tripped over loose rocks that had fallen in the narrow passageway. Walking with an awkward stoop, we finally reached the end of the tunnel several hundred feet from the entrance. For a moment we turned off the light and just stood there listening to “drip…drip…drip” coming from the dank ceiling and falling to the floor somewhere in the blackness. For the first time in days we couldn’t hear the river – it was silenced by the tunnel and it was deafening.
We shimmied back out the portal, slid down the shale pile back to our boats and spent a quiet afternoon rowing through the beautiful rose colored walls of Marble Canyon.
Marble Canyon – Photo by John Schroeder
That night, I reflected again about what the trip in 1964 meant to river runners like us. That trip and those guys made a huge impact by shining a bright light on the beauty of the canyon. Their pictures, their videos, and their words inspired millions of people to take a closer look at the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and for the first time, many of them saw this place as much more than just a source for water.
The darkness in the canyon is filled with passion.
Last of the Three Part Series by Greg Hatten
Time for another guest post from our friend Greg Hatten, in which he replicates a run from the 1962 trek down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. This one is exciting, so hold on.
We scout the big ones – the ones you can hear for a half mile before you can see – the ones that sound like a freight train when you stand beside them. The ground trembles. Their names are spoken with respect and dread around the campfire at night and over coffee in the morning… House Rock, Hermit, Hance, Granite, Bedrock, Crystal, Lava…
Just above Granite Rapid at mile mark 94, we pull our boats to shore on river-left, tie up, and hike down the river over unstable river rocks to “scout”. It’s rated a 9 + on a scale of 10 by Larry Stevens in his River Runner’s Map and Guidebook to the Colorado River – one of the most difficult on the river. Halfway down this rapid is one of the largest and most violent holes we have seen on the trip. We stop at the midpoint of the rapid to have a closer look. We watch, mesmerized, as water pours over a huge boulder we cannot see and then dives ten feet down with so much force it creates a wall of water that slams back upriver to create a turbulent cauldron and a suck-hole that we must avoid. We are transfixed and for a long moment we can’t look away. I wonder to myself, if a boat got sucked into that, would it EVER come out?
Scanning the river for a possible path through the rapid (the “line”) we speak a boatman’s language of laterals, V-waves, pour-overs, eddies, and cheater lines. There is a seriousness in our tone this morning as we dissect the rapid and discuss what we see. I love the banter, I respect the experience, I trust the judgment of these teammates.
Two days ago my boat was swallowed and flipped in an ugly hole at Grapevine – a Class VIII. My boat took a beating and so did my confidence. It’s on my mind as the hole in front of us thunders away and we continue to search for the “line.”
There are big rocks all the way down the left side which appear and then disappear with the crashing waves. At this low water level those rocks would tear our boats to pieces… left side is not open today. We look at the middle run but everything coming down that V-wave is getting sucked into the hole-that-must-be-missed, so it’s not an option either. The only path we see at this level is a far right run where a ridge of water is formed by the current careening off the canyon wall. The run requires a boat balancing act on a tight wire of white water that’s uncomfortably close to the canyon wall.
The hard part is getting up on that water ridge in the first place. There is a hole above the ridge on the far right side of the river formed by the first steep elevation drop. If you can put your boat half in the hole and half out of the hole, it will pop your boat out and fling it right on top of the ridge for a twenty second thrill ride to the bottom. Hit the hole too far right & you’ll get sucked into it. Skirt the hole too far left and you’ll miss the ridge and be swept into the V Wave and the big dangerous hole we must avoid.
We are all agreed – it’s a far right run.
After the scout, it’s a quiet walk back up to the boats. We are alone with our thoughts and visualizing our moves and I pose the question to myself… again… “why am I doing this”?
Robb goes first – he’s been rowing since he was four years old and makes every rapid look easy. He gives us confidence as he hit the exact line we talked about and has a splashy ride down the ridge. Perfection. He pulls into an eddy below the rapid and sets up for rescue as a safety precaution.
Steph is next – he’s rowing the Susie Too – a remake of the original from 1962 and a twin hull of my boat, the Portola. He takes the Susie Too over the first big drop and disappears. His line is a little too aggressive – his boat is too far into the hole at the top. The power of the hole grabs his right oar and almost pulls him out of the boat. The force is so strong it springs the brass oar lock and releases the oar which is now useless in his hand. He slams the oar back in place just as he gets spit out of the hole, a little sideways and twisted, but up on the ridge none-the-less. A quick correction and he rides the ridge like a bucking horse although dangerously close to the wall. Nice!!
I tighten my life jacket, put on my helmet, and row quietly to the other side of the river several hundred feet above Granite. The approach to the infinity edge is slow. Too slow. Too much time to think about my disaster at Grapevine. I snap back to the moment and reach the edge where I can finally see down the steepness of the other side and know for the first time that my alignment is spot on.
This is the nerve that Craig Wolfson talks about. I’m lined up to hit one hole so I can miss a bigger hole and it’s only two days and twelve miles after almost losing my boat and my passenger in a hole that looks a lot like these.
I drop over the top and everything speeds up – now I’m racing for the edge of the hole on the right. Half in half out – I hit it perfectly and I keep my right oar up away from the turbulence (thanks Steph). I’m rewarded by a clean exit from the hole and a little air as I get deposited right on top of the ridge of water. I ride the waves as they explode under my boat and shoot me down the other side. The canyon wall is cozy and I feel like it’s inches away from the tips of my oars. I go speeding by the hole-that-must-be-missed on my left. It’s so close I can touch it with my oar.
One more big wave at the bottom and it’s over. In 20 seconds. Wow…and then I remind myself – “THIS is why we do this!!”
That run at Granite restored my confidence – which would be tested repeatedly over the next 190 miles. Three days later I would flip in Upset Rapid – Class nine.
It had a bigger hole than Granite on the day it got me…but THAT’s another story.
You wreck a wood boat, you fix it. You flip a wood boat, you dry out your blankets. And that’s how you run a rapid.
Coming up in Part III…read about night-life on the Colorado. Ever wonder what it’s like to sleep in the canyon for a month or how we cook, clean, relax, and get re-charged for a challenging day on the river? Read about it next week and enjoy some beautiful night-time shots in “Night in the Canyon”
Ah, the serape. Just looking at it makes you happy. This blanket reads modern, but it has been around a long time.
The serape’s roots are in the Mexican weaving tradition, but it is now common to both Spanish and Native American textiles. Here’s a photo of a Native family in a historic Babbitt Brothers wagon with a serape peeking over the edge. This was taken in the Southwest, where the Babbitts plied (and still ply) their trade.
Colorful, sturdy and functional, this blanket shawl was part of life in the traditional Mexican home. It could serve as clothing, bedding and shelter!
The serape is known by many names throughout Mexico, including chamarro, cobiga, and gaban. It can be woven of a variety of materials and patterns but is generally lighter in weight. Different regions use different palettes, from the elegant neutrals of the Mexican highlands to the bold gradients of Coahuila.
Pendleton’s serapes are woven of 82% wool/18% cotton in bands of gradient colors to achieve that beautiful eye-popping dimensional effect. This is your perfect spring and summer blanket, just waiting to be invited along wherever you go.
All made in the USA and available at www.pendleton-usa.com .
This post looks back to this past summer, when we helped outfit The Wilderness Collective for a trip to the Eastern Sierras. For this trip, they rode in on horse, braving rain and rocky trails for the reward of some serious fishing and camping away from the distractions of modern life.
The Wilderness Collective’s tagline is “Legendary Adventures for Men.” The gear is high-end, the aesthetic tends towards the curated, but there is no denying that these adventures are the real thing.
Watch the film below. Don’t you want to go?
The real stars of the film are the horses. They patiently pick their way across this stunning landscape, shod hooves on sharp rocks, to take the Wilderness Collective into seriously rugged territory. These horses definitely earned their Pendleton saddle blankets.
You can read more about The Wilderness Collective and see films of their other journeys here.
Greg Hatten, our drift boat adventurer, has been embarking on a new adventure, besides running the rivers of America in handcrafted wooden drift boats. He’s taken on grandfathering in a big way, with three little ones under two years old in his family.
Greg decided that for Christmas, he’d build his grandkids a rocking boat just like his own boat, at 33% the size. He worked with his boat-building buddy, Roger Fletcher, to make it happen.
The results? Beautiful.
The boats are carefully hand-built in the same way as the full-size drift boats for which Greg is so well-known. That is a lot of measuring, cutting, shaping, joining, sanding, staining and sealing. As Greg told us, “I only know how to build boats one way.”
Greg also adapted the classic children’s poem, “Winkin, Blinkin & Nod” by Eugene Field to reflect his passion for drift boating (and Pendleton blankets, it seems). He published copies for each of the grandkids, and the books and boat were quite the hits.
So please enjoy these photos of Greg’s grandkids enjoying their new boat. Information on the rocking boat and book can be found at the Rocking Boat website.
We have been making our Grateful Nation blanket for most of a decade, and for part of that time, we also made a Grateful Nation Vest. It honored veterans in two ways; by visually commemorating each of this century’s service ribbons, and by donations to The Fisher House Foundation. The Fisher House Foundation provides residences near military and VA medical centers for families of ill or wounded veterans and service members. A portion of the sale of each blanket goes to the Fisher House Foundation, as well.
Cue Chris Winters, a Puyallup tribal member and veteran who understood that we were no longer making the vest, but wanted to know if we had fabric available. He sent photos of his own vest.
Said Chris, “I am on a Tribal committee and we not only wear Pendleton vests for ceremonies. ..we gift your native blankets to guests, elders, and returning warriors.” Chris is very involved in IUPAT, a Washington State organization that offers outreach, support and training for Native veterans. This group marches in local parades honoring servicemen in their Grateful Nation vests, decorated with the medals earned by veterans who have served our country.
The role of Native Americans in our military cannot be understated. Books have been written and movies made about Native Code Talkers in both World Wars. The percentage of Native Americans serving in the military is higher than any other minority group in America.
We’re bringing back the Grateful nation vest this next fall, in 2014. We thought you’d enjoy seeing the vest worn in Tacoma, Washington area parades and ceremonies by Native veterans who have served our country well.
Here’s the blanket in the IUPAT office.
Click below for more information about the blanket and the meaning of each service ribbon stripe. Read more
Pendleton is delighted to show you the Ural Gaucho Rambler, our collaboration with IMZ-Ural, one of the world’s oldest motorcycle manufacturers. The Gaucho Rambler pays homage to the famed Southwestern cowboy, or Gaucho.
Ural specializes in retro-inspired three-wheelers. This sidecar model is painted Pacific Blue with a sun-weathered canvas draping to echo the colors of the western sunset. Each bike carries a specially labeled Journey West blanket robe for warmth under the starry night skies. Because every cowboy should have the means to rustle up some grub, each bike also includes a mess kit with coffee pot and cups, plates and a skillet.
“Ural and Pendleton are two companies which at different points in time ventured out to find home in the American West, both of which endured many challenges and yet all the while maintained their authenticity,” said Madina Merzhoeva, Ural’s VP of Sales & Marketing. “This year Pendleton’s anniversary celebrates 150 years of weaving textiles in America and Ural marks its 20th year in the US. Paying homage to our beginnings and the pioneering spirit is what connects the two brands and inspired this collaboration.”
The partnership of historic brands was a natural fit. Only 50 units of the 2013 Gaucho Rambler will be manufactured, so saddle up and have some fun while you can.
This week marked the birthday of Yosemite National Park. Nearly 4 million people a year visit this World heritage site, which spans 761,268 acres and crosses the slopes of the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains in California. With its diverse wildlife, sky-sweeping Sequoias and distinctive rock formations, this wilderness contains some of the most rugged beauty of the American West.
It’s our deepest hope that we can resume enjoying our national treasures soon. In the meantime, Pendleton continues to honor our National parks with a growing collection of distinctive blankets that includes Yellowstone, Badlands, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Rainier, Acadia, Crater Lake and Glacier.
Each blanket bears the Pendleton label along with a special label depicting an image with an important natural feature specific to each park. All blankets are 100% pure virgin wool and made in the USA.
This is a beautiful time of year to see the western parks. Let’s hope our families can enjoy them soon!