G'day, and welcome to Day 4.  This is one of the oar boats heading down the river.

Like many of the spectacular places on Earth, both natural (Yosemite Valley, Mt. McKinley, the Rift Valley of Africa) and man made (the Panama Canal, the Pyramids of Giza, a large pizza with everything), the Grand Canyon impresses just because of the scale of its features.  There are plenty of canyons out there, but not with the variety of layers, the huge number of river miles, the sheer walls stacked upon one another.  It does an excellent job of making men feel their relationship to the planet: we're small and it's big and beautiful.

Speaking of layers, this is one of the most beautiful.  It's called Bright Angel Shale, and is known for it's rainbow of colors.

Before lunch, we stopped at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado River (or LCR).  The LCR is known for it's very soft water of this beautiful turquoise blue color.  Here we strapped our life vests onto our bottoms and floated down this little rapid.  Tip for rapid floating:  Lay back further in the water than I'm doing here.  In an effort to keep my head out of the water, I scraped up my bum a bit on the rocks below the waterline.

That evening was another hike above camp.  This time we saw some petroglyphs on a few rocks...

...and the remains of a little dwelling / watchtower.  This little spot is a realtor's dream: just look at this location, location location...

Day Five, our last day on the river.  We're now down into the oldest layer of rocks visible in the canyon, volcanic and metamorphic rocks created hundreds of millions of years ago.  They aren't as pretty as the earlier sedimentaries but give an impression of permanence nothing else can match.

On this day we went through a fairly large rapid called Hance Rapid.  It was significant enough the guides pulled over to take a look before getting into the rapid.  This is Dirk taking a good, long look.

The first hike of the day was up a side canyon I don't remember the name of.  There's Angela in the lower right, giving a sense of scale.

The second hike of the day was up Clear Creek.  This little wall was our entry up and over into CC's side canyon.

This is Clear Creek.  It gives you some idea how hot it was this day to see everyone soaking in the creek before getting up and hiking up the side canyon.  We really had nothing to complain about; it wasn't ever deadly hot and we had almost no wind, which made for a very pleasant trip.  All that being said, it was still hot and it's just good practice to cool off with water whenever possible.

This is the waterfall at the end of the hike, with a bunch of grateful hikers.

The spray from the right of this picture causes some people to call it the "Horizontal Waterfall."

This is the first published picture of Angela and I showering together...

And now, some pictures from around the last camp.  The stove top...

...Ellen pumping some water through the filter for drinking...

...and Faye and Tracy preparing dinner.

And all good things must come to an end.  This is Day Six, the hike out.  The guides brought us a few miles down river from our camp and dropped us off at the Bright Angel Trail.  At that point, it was just 7.5 miles and about 4500 feet of elevation between us and civilization.  This is a view after we've been hiking for less than a mile.  Already, the river is hidden from view and you can see the canyons on both sides of the river. 

The guides then waited at that spot for several hours, waiting for their new passengers to hike down the trail and start their tour of the lower canyon.

A little further up the trail the Bright Angel Creek goes over this little waterfall.

The first rest stop and water on the trail is at Indian Gardens, a hike of about three miles (4.5 miles left to go to the top).  Shortly after this break, we we pass by two mule trains bring people down into the canyon.

The band of trees in the center of this picture is Indian Gardens.  This picture was taken from near Three Mile House, three miles below the rim.

Here is Indian Gardens again (in the middle distance) and Three Mile House (right foreground).  The superhighway snaking through the picture is the Bright Angel Trail.  Less than 3 miles to hike now...

We're now past 1.5 Mile House, the last rest stop and water.  This is the point where we saw our first clouds of the day.  It was such an occasion, I decided to take a picture of it.

Not far from the rim is the Old Man of the Canyon.  He watches over the Grand Canyon day and night.

We can see the hotels and restaurants of the South Rim now, in the opposite direction of this picture.  This shot gives a little idea of how much altitude we're still gaining.  Alas, this is the last picture we take with our camera before its battery dies, so...

We had to ask a gentleman from Tampa, Florida to take this picture of us at the South Rim, to document our state after five nights of camping and 7.5 miles, 4500 feet, and eight hours of hiking in what we estimate as 90 degree F heat.  We're a little worse for wear, true, but the hotel has a little Jacuzzi, we order a nice pizza, and return happily to the world of man.