Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lava Falls

MILE 179.7

Greg got an early start with Rob and Ben. It's 12 miles down to Lava and I think Greg just wanted some quiet time on the river. Devon and I were riding with Wes. It was a very pleasant early morning float, probably due to the lack of big water and the anticipation of what was to come. Lava Falls gets plenty of hype - I'm sure it helps strengthen the plot of the river trips to have a big rapid late in the journey - but its reputation is well-deserved.

We could see the Toroweap overlook high on the cliffs on the right before we rounded the last corner at the Anvil, a volcanic plug in the river a mile and a half above Lava. The landscape changes here and volcanic rocks will dominate for the next several miles. Basalt poured down the north walls of the canyon in the not too distant past (geologically), periodically damming the river and draping the familiar horizontal sedimentary strata.

Lava Falls itself is just another rapid formed by a big debris flow, this one from Prospect Canyon on river left, but this one has pushed the river against lots of big basalt boulders and outcrops on the right. The Ledge Hole on top is big and some of the lower waves are enormous. We scouted on river left and I found myself a bit awed by the power of the moving water.

The ride itself was great - Wes did a great job driving - and it was all over very quickly. Hopefully, Don got some good pictures of the boats going through.

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