The first section of Separation Rapid was run the first thing in the morning, a manoeuvre that was accomplished by starting on the left shore and crossing the swift centre clear to the other shore. This allowed us to reach some quiet water near a small deposit of rock and earth at the base of the sheer wall. Two feet of water would have covered this deposit; likewise two feet of water would have given us a clear channel over this second section. As it was, the rapid was rough, with many rocks very near the surface. Directly across from us, close to the left shore, was what looked like a ten-foot geyser, or fountain of water. This was caused by a rock in the path of a strong current rebounding from the shore. The water ran up on the side near the wall, then fell on all sides. It was seldom the water had force enough to carry to the top of a rock as large as that. This portage of the second section was one of the easiest we had made. By rolling a few large rocks around we could get a stream water across our small shore large enough to float an empty boat with a little help, so we lightened them of the cargo and floated them through our canal. While running the third section the Edith was carried up on the sloping rock in the middle of the stream; she paused a moment, then came down like a shot and whirled around to the side without mishap. This made the thirteenth rapid in which both boats were lined or portaged. In three other rapids one boat was run through and one was portaged. Half of all these rapids were located in the Grand Canyon.

All this time we were anxiously looking forward to a rapid which Mr. Stone had described as being the worst in the entire series, also the last rapid we would be likely to portage and had informed us that below this particular rapid everything could be run with little or no inspection. Naturally we were anxious to get that rapid behind us. It was described as being located below a small stream flowing from the south. The same rapid was described by Major Powell as having a bold, lava-capped escarpment at the head of the rapid, on the right. We had not seen any lava since leaving Diamond Creek, and an entry in my notes reads, "we have gone over Stone's 'big rapid' three times and it is still ahead of us." The knowledge that there was a big rapid in the indefinite somewhere that was likely to cause us trouble seemed to give us more anxious moments than the many unmentioned rapids we were finding all this time. We wondered how high the escarpment was, and if we could take our boats over its top. We tried to convince ourselves that it was behind us, although sure that it could not be. But the absence of lava puzzled us. After one "bad" rapid and several "good" rapids we came to a sharp turn in the canyon. Emery was ahead and called back, "I see a little stream"; Bert joined with "I see the lava"; and the "Bold Escarpment Rapid," as we had been calling it for some time, was before us. It was more than a nasty rapid, it was a cataract!

What a din that water sent up! We had to yell to make ourselves heard. The air vibrated with the impact of water against rock. The rapid was nearly half a mile long. There were two sections near its head staggered with great rocks, forty of them, just above or slightly submerged under the surface of the water. Our low stage of water helped us, so that we did not have to line the boats from the ledge, eighty feet above the water, as others had done. The rapid broke just below the lower end of the sheer rock, which extended twenty feet beyond the irregular shore. The Edith went first, headed upstream, at a slight angle nearly touching the wall, dropping a few inches between each restraining stroke of the oars. Bert crouched on the bow, ready to spring with the rope, as soon as Emery passed the wall and headed her in below the wall. Jumping to the shore, he took a snub around a boulder and kept her from being dragged into the rapid. Then they both caught the Defiance as she swung in below the rock, and half the battle was won before we tackled the rapid.

Our days were short, and we did not take the boats down until the next day; but we did carry much of the camp material and cargo halfway down over ledges a hundred feet above the river. For a bad rapid we were very fortunate in getting past it as easily as we did. Logs were laid over rocks, the boats were skidded over them about their own length and dropped in again. Logs and boats were lined down in the swift, but less riotous water, to the next barrier, which was more difficult. A ten-foot rounded boulder lay close to the shore, with smaller rocks, smooth and ice-filmed, scattered between. Powerful currents swirled between these rocks and disappeared under two others, wedged closely together on top. Three times the logs were snatched from our grasp as we tried to bridge them across this current, and they vanished in the foam, to shoot out end first, twenty feet below and race away on the leaping water. A boat would be smashed to kindling-wood if once carried under there. At last we got our logs wedged, and an hour of tugging, in which only two men could take part at the same time, landed both boats in safety below this barrier. We shot the remainder of the rapid on water so swift that the oars were snatched from our hands if we tried to do more than keep the boats straight with the current. That rapid was no longer the "Bold Escarpment," but the "Last Portage" instead, and it was behind us.

The afternoon was half gone when we made ready pull away from the Last Portage. There were other rapids, but scarcely a pause was made in our two-hour run, and we camped away from the roar of water. The canyon was widening out a little at a time; the granite disappeared in the following day's run, at noon. Grass-covered slopes, with seeping mineral springs, took the place of precipitous walls; they dropped to 2500 feet in height; numerous side canyons cut the walls in regular sections like gigantic city blocks, instead of an unbroken avenue. Small rapids continued to appear, there were a few small islands, and divided currents, so shallow they sometimes kept us guessing which one to take, but we continued to run them all without a pause. We would have run out of the canyon that day but for one thing. Five mountain-sheep were seen from our boats in one of the sloping grassy meadows above the river. We landed below, carried our cameras back, and spent half an hour in trying to see them again, but they had taken alarm.

Placer claim locations and fresh burro tracks were seen in the sand at our last Grand Canyon camp, and a half mile below us we could see out into open country. We found the walls, or the end of the table-land, to be about two thousand feet high, with the canyon emerging at a sharp angle so that a narrow ridge, or "hogs-back" lay on the left side of the stream. Once out in the open the walls were seen to be quite steep, but could be climbed to the top almost any place without trouble. Saturday, January the 13th, we were out of the canyon at last, and the towering walls, now friendly, now menacing, were behind us. Three hundred and sixty-five large rapids, and nearly twice as many small rapids, were behind us and the dream of ten years was an accomplished fact. But best of all, there were no tragedies or fatalities to record. Perhaps we did look a little the worse for wear, but a few days away from the river would repair all that. The boats had a bump here and there, besides the one big patch on the Edith; a little mending and a little caulking would put both the Edith and Defiance in first-class condition.

There is little of interest to record of our 175-mile run to Needles, California. It was a land of desolation - an extension of the Mojave Desert on the south, and the alkaline flats and mineral mountains of Nevada on the north, of Death Valley and the Funeral Mountains of California to the northwest - a burned-out land of grim-looking mountains extending north and south across our way; a dried-out, washed-out, and wind-swept land of extensive flats and arroyos; a land of rock and gravel cemented in marls and clay; ungraced with any but the desert plants, - cactus and thorny shrubs, - with little that was pleasing or attractive. A desert land it is true, but needing only the magic touch of water to transform much of it into a garden spot. Even as it was, a few months later it would be covered with the flaming blossoms of the desert growth, which seem to try to make amends in one or two short months for nearly a year of desolation.

A wash ran along the base of the plateau from which we had emerged. An abandoned road and ferry showed that this had once been a well-travelled route. The stream had a good current and we pulled away, only stopping once to see the last of our plateau before a turn and deepening banks hid it from view. We wondered if the water ever dropped in a precipitous fall over the face of the wall and worked back, a little every year, as it does at Niagara. We could hardly doubt that there were some such falls back in the dim past when these canyons were being carved.

In the middle of the afternoon we passed a ranch or a house with a little garden, occupied by two miners, who hailed us from the shore. A half-mile below was the Scanlon Ferry, a binding tie between Arizona, on the south and what was now Nevada, on the north, for we had reached the boundary line shortly after emerging from the canyon. We still travelled nearly directly west. The ferry was in charge of a Cornishman who also had as pretty a little ranch as one could expect to find in such an unlikely place. A purling stream of water, piped from somewhere up in the hills, had caused the transformation. The ranch was very homey with cattle and horses, sheep and hogs, dogs and cats, all sleek and contented-looking. The garden proved that this country had a warm climate, although we were not suffering from heat at that time. An effort was being made to grow some orange trees, but with little promise of success; there were fig trees and date-palms, with frozen dates hanging on the branches, one effect of the coldest winter they had seen in this section.

The rancher told us he could not sell us anything that had to be brought in, for it was seventy miles to the railroad, but we could look over such supplies as he had. It ended by his selling us a chicken, two dozen eggs, five pounds of honey, and ten pounds of flour, - all for $2.50. We did not leave until the next morning, then bought another jar of honey, for we had no sugar, and two-thirds of the first jar was eaten before we left the ferry.

We pulled away in such a hurry the next morning that we forgot an axe that had been carried with us for the entire journey. A five-hour run brought us to the mouth of the Virgin River, a sand-bar a mile wide, and with a red-coloured stream little larger than Cataract Creek winding through it. We had once seen this stream near its head waters, a beautiful mountain creek, that seemed to bear no relation to this repulsive-looking stream that entered from the north. A large, flat-topped, adobe building, apparently deserted, stood off at one side of the stream. This was the head of navigation for flat-bottomed steamboats that once plied between here and the towns on the lower end of the river. They carried supplies for small mines scattered through the mountains and took out cargoes of ore, and of rock salt which was mined back in Nevada.

It was here at the Virgin River that Major Powell concluded his original voyage of exploration. Some of his men took the boats on down to Fort Mojave, a few miles above Needles; afterwards two of the party continued on to the Gulf. The country below the Virgin River had been explored by several parties, but previous to this time nothing definite was known of the gorges until this exploration by this most remarkable man. The difficulties of this hazardous trip were increased for him by the fact that he had lost an arm in the Civil War.

It is usually taken for granted that the United States government was back of this exploration. This was true of the second expedition, but not of the first. Major Powell was aided to a certain extent by the State College of Illinois, otherwise he bore all the expense himself. We received $10,000 from the government to apply on the expenses of the second trip.

We felt that we had some reason to feel a justifiable pride for having duplicated, in some ways, this arduous journey. It was impossible for us to do more than guess what must have been the feelings and anxieties of this explorer. Added to the fact that we had boats, tested and constructed to meet the requirements of the river, and the benefit of others' experiences, was a knowledge that we were not likely to be precipitated over a waterfall, or if we lost everything and succeeded in climbing out, that there were a few ranches and distant settlements scattered through the country.

But we had traversed the same river and the same canyons which change but little from year to year, and had succeeded beyond our fondest hopes in having accomplished what we set out to do.

The Black Mountains, dark and forbidding, composed of a hard rock which gave a metallic clink, and decorated with large spots of white, yellow, vermilion, and purple deposits of volcanic ashes, were entered this afternoon. The peaks were about a thousand feet high. The passage between is known as Boulder Canyon. Here we met two miners at work on a tunnel, or drift, who informed us that it was about forty miles to Las Vegas, Nevada, and that it was only twenty-five miles from the mouth of Las Vegas Wash, farther down the river, to this same town and the railroad.

Fort Callville - an abandoned rock building, constructed by the directions of Brigham Young, without windows or roof, and surrounded by stone corrals - was passed the next day. At Las Vegas Wash the river turned at right angles, going directly south, holding with very little deviation to this general direction until it empties into the Gulf of California nearly five hundred miles away. The river seemed to be growing smaller as we got out in the open country. Like all Western rivers, when unprotected by canyons, it was sinking in the sand. Sand-bars impeded our progress at such places as the mouth of the Wash. But we had a good current, without rapids in Black Canyon, which came shortly below, and mile after mile was put behind us before we camped for the night.

An old stamp-mill, closed for the time, but in charge of three men who were making preparations to resume work, was passed the next day. They had telephone communication with Searchlight, Nevada, twenty odd miles away, and we sent out some telegrams in that way. More sand-bars were encountered the next day, and ranches began to appear on both sides of the river. We had difficulty on some of these bars. In places the river bed was a mile wide, with stagnant pools above the sand, and with one deep channel twisting between. At Fort Mojave, now an Indian school and agency, we telephoned to some friends in Needles, as we had promised to do, telling them we would arrive about noon of the following day. We made a mistake in not camping at the high ground by the "fort" that night, for just below the river widened again and the channel turned out in the centre. It was getting dark and we had entered this before noticing which way it turned, and had a hard pull back to the shore, for we had no desire to camp out there in the quicksand. The shore was little more desirable. It was a marsh, covered with a growth of flags and tules but with the ground frozen enough so that we did not sink. Our last camp - No. 76 - was made in this marsh. There we spent the night, hidden like hunted savages in the cane-brake, while an Indian brass band played some very good music for an officers' ball, less than half a mile away.

We were up and away with the sun the next morning. On nearing Needles, a friend met us on the outskirts of the town and informed us that they had arranged what he called an official landing and reception. At his request we deferred going down at once, but busied ourselves instead at packing our cargo, ready for shipping. Our friend had secured the services of a motion-picture operator and our own camera was sent down to make a picture of the landing, which was made as he had arranged.

We landed in Needles January 18, 1912; one month from the time of our start from Bright Angel Trail, with a total of one hundred and one days spent along the river. In that time our camps had been changed seventy-six times.

Our two boats, highly prized as souvenirs of our twelve hundred mile trip, and which had carried us through three hundred and sixty-five big rapids, over a total descent of more than five thousand feet, were loaded on cars ready for shipment; the Edith to Los Angeles, the Defiance to the Grand Canyon.

Among other mail awaiting us was the following letter, bearing the postmark of Hite, Utah:

     "KOLB BROS.,


     "Well I got here at last after seventeen days in Cataract 
     Canyon. The old boat will stand a little quiet water but 
     will never go through another rapid. I certainly played 
     'ring-a-round' some of those rocks in Cataract Canyon; I 
     tried every scheme I had ever heard of, and some that were 
     never thought of before. At the last rapid in Cataract I 
     carried all my stuff over the cliff, then tried to line the 
     boat from the narrow ledge. The boat jerked me into the 
     river, but I did not lose my hold on the chain and climbed 
     on board. I had no oars, but managed to get through without 
     striking any rocks, and landed a mile and a half below the 
     supplies. I hope the 'movies' are good.[7]

     "Sincerely yours,

     "CHAS. SMITH."