CHAPTER XIII. A COMPANION VOYAGER
THURSDAY morning, October the 26th, found Emery feeling very poorly, but insisting on going ahead with our day's work, so Camp No. 34 was soon behind us. We were embarked on a new stream, flowing west-southwest, with a body of water ten times the size of that which we had found in the upper canyons of the Green. Our sixteen-foot boats looked quite small when compared with the united currents of the Green and the Grand rivers. The Colorado River must have been about 350 feet wide here just below the junction, with a three-mile current, and possibly twenty-five feet deep, although this is only a guess. The Grand River appeared to be the higher of the two streams, and had a decidedly red colour, as though a recent storm was being carried down its gorges; while the colour of the Green was more of a coffee colour - coffee with a little cream in it.
A fourth of a mile below the junction the two currents began to mix, with a great ado about it, with small whirlpools and swift eddies, and sudden outbursts from beneath as though a strangled current was struggling to escape from the weight which overpowered it. The boats were twisted this way and that, and hard rowing was necessary to carry us down to the steadied current, and to the first rapid, which we could hear when yet far above it.
Soon we were running rapids again, and getting a lot of sport out of it. There were some rocks, but there was water enough so that these could be avoided. If one channel did not suit us, we took another, and although we were drenched in every rapid, and the cockpit was half filled each time, it was not cold enough to cause us any great discomfort, and we bailed out at the end of each rapid, then hurried on to tackle the next. Each of these rapids was from a fourth to a third of a mile in length. The average was at least one big rapid to the mile. When No. 5 was reached we paused a little longer, and looked it over more carefully than we had the others. It had a short, quick descent, then a long line of white-topped waves, with a big whirlpool on the right. There were numerous rocks which would take careful work to avoid. The waves were big, - big enough for a motion picture, - so Emery remained on shore with both the motion-picture camera and the 8X10 plate camera in position, ready to take the picture, while I ran my boat.
At the head of this rapid we saw footprints in the sand, but not made with the same shoe as that which we had noticed above the junction. We had also seen signs of a camp, and some fishes' heads above this point, and what we took to be a dog's track along the shore.
At the head of the next rapid we saw them again, but on opposite side of the river, and could see where boat had been pulled up on the sand. This next rapid was almost as bad as the one above it, but with a longer descent, instead of one abrupt drop. The following rapid was so close that we continued along the shore to look it over at the same time, saving a stop between the two rapids. The shores were strewn with a litter of gigantic boulders - fallen sections of the overhanging cliffs. We found more of this in Cataract Canyon than in any of the canyons above. This was partly responsible for the violence of the rapids, although the descent of the river would make rough water even if there were no boulders. Working back along the shore, we were suddenly electrified into quick action by seeing the Edith come floating down the river, close to the shore and almost on the rapid. Emery was a short distance ahead and ran for the Defiance; I caught up a long pole and got on a projecting rock, hoping I might steer her in. She passed me, and was soon in the midst of the rapid before Emery had launched the boat. Three gigantic boulders extended above the water about fifty feet from shore, with a very crooked channel between. Down toward these boulders came the Edith, plunging like a thing possessed. How it was done I could never tell, but she passed through the crooked channel without once touching, and continued over the rapid. Meanwhile Emery had run the other side and had gained on the Edith, but only caught her when close to the next rapid; so he turned her loose and came to the shore for me.
Emery had not been feeling his best and I advised him to remain on shore while I took the boat. As we made the change we again observed the boat, bounding through the next rapid, whirling on the tops of the waves as though in the hands of a superhuman juggler. I managed to overtake her in a whirlpool below the rapid, and came to shore for her captain. He was nearly exhausted with his efforts; still he insisted on continuing. A few miles below we saw some ducks, and shot at them with a revolver. But the ducks flew disdainfully away, and landed in the pool below.
By 4.30 P.M. we were twelve miles below the junction, a very good day's run considering the kind of water we were travelling on, and the amount of time we spent on the shore. We had just run our twelfth rapid, and were turning the boats around, when we saw a man back from the shore working over a pile of boxes which he had covered with a piece of canvas. A boat was tied to the water's edge. We called to him, and he answered, but did not seem nearly as much interested in seeing companion travellers as we were, and proceeded with his work. We landed, and, to save time, introduced ourselves, as there seemed to be a certain aloofness in his manner. He gave the name of Smith - with some hesitation, we thought.