The rapid far below you in the Colorado River is
Hance Rapid, one of over a hundred major rapids in
Grand Canyon. The rapid is almost a mile in length;
the river drops more than 30 vertical feet in that
stretch. Seen from the rim, rapids seem tiny, and it
is difficult to grasp their awsome power.
What is it like to run such a rapid? On his pioneering
river trip in 1869, Major John Wesley Powell
avoided Hance Rapid by "lining" past it (using ropes
to work his boats along the shore).
But Major Powell couldn't line past another major
rapid a short distance downriver. He described his
"...down and up on waves higher and still higher
until we strike one just as it curls back, and a breaker
rolls over our little boat. Still on we speed, shooting
pas projecting rocks, till the little boat is caught in a
whirlpool and spun round several times... The open
compartment... is filled with water and every breaker
rolls over us... Hurled back from a rock, now on this
side, now on that, we are carried into an eddy... the
breakers still rolling over us."
Early expeditions tried to avoid
Hance Rapid. Here a 1923 survey
crew transports supplies around the
rapid before running the lightened
Edith Kolb rode in one of the boats,
becoming the first woman to run a
major Grand Canyon rapid. The
mules arrived via Hance Trail.