This week we continue our journey with Ted Hatch as he explains, in his 1984 interview with Elizabeth Sowards, just what white water rafting in the Grand Canyon used to be like. In this excerpt, Ted tells us about what rafting above the Grand Canyon was like before Glen Canyon Dam, and describes the lost Lava Canyon rapids.
Sowards: Un-huh. I read that the other day that he got out there.
Ted: I thought it was neat that Goldwater tell about his trip through there. Nevills ran after my father had gone through… Norm Nevills. He was a nice guy. He got killed in a plane crash. They have pictures of him in here. There is a little information about the trip and, you know, it all history of their trip.
At one spot they got into Hance Rapids where it was low and rocky, so they hired a helicopter to come in and pick up the boats and move them over the rocks. Goldwater took along one of these Citizen-band ham radio things with him, so at night he could radio out.
They’ve got a picture of that in here somewhere where they had the copter.
Nevills developed a boat which is called the sadiron, which is pointed on one end and flat on the other. It had a rocker system in it. It ran the rapids pretty good, but it was a wooden boat and the minute we got to the rubber boats we felt they were far superior. They could haul more and they were a lot safer, but in those days they were real good boats! I’ll show you some of the pictures. That’s Barry Goldwater Jr. There. Here’s the copter lifting one of the boats around the rapids.
Sowards: Oh, (laughs) are they in it?
Ted: The Howland brothers hiked up Separation Canyon and were killed by Indians. They were on the Powell Expedition.
Sowards: I remember that. They abandoned it there.
Ted: This plaque has a history of it. We had a little plaque right near there that was done in copper for our trip in 1934.
Sowards: Is it still there?
Ted: No. The Park Service or someone took it down, and it was found by a guy by the name of Jerry Parkinson from California. He found it in the river. Somebody had torn it off of the wall of the cliff and thrown it in the river. He found it when the water was real low and he mailed it to us. We got it back. But down there on that lower end, just before you go to Lake Mead there used to be a rapid in there that was really, really bad. My dad said that is was worse than any in Grand… worse than Lava Falls, and it was called Lava Canyon Rapids. It’s been flooded by the lake, but it really was a battle. Barry sent me this book and I didn’t even know that he had written it. It’s about the 1937 Expedition of Nevills.
Check back next Friday to read about when Ted accepted artwork in trade for river trips!
Flashback Friday – Ted Tells Us About White Water Rafting in the Grand Canyon (and Above It!) was last modified: July 22nd, 2015 by