River miles 165-188; National Canyon

Today we planned to run Lava Falls, the biggest rapid on the river, at mile 180. Damo drew a diagram in the sand and explained the hydraulics of the rapid, then we got into the dory with Pablo.
After a couple of miles, we stopped at National Canyon, and walked through a small creek with high walls. The canyon closed in, and we crawled under an overhanging rock and chimneyed into a pool. Evan and Paul scrambled up into an even higher pool.
At lunch, Gary described how the plant and beach landscape has changed since the Glen Canyon dam upstream. Alien exotic tamarisk covers and secures the beaches now that they're now longer scoured by annual floods.
After a few small rapids, we stopped to scramble over hot lava rocks to scout Lava Falls. We ran Lava Falls in Pedro's dory; we avoided the massive Ledge Hole, crashed through a 15' wave, and made it through. The dory filled with water up to our knees, and we bailed as we approached Tequila Beach for a brief celebration.
We camped at mile 188, and our guides brought out a stash of costumes for a post-Lava Falls party. Damo brought out a chunk of ice, and used it to create a punch bowl full of amazingly cold Lava Juice. We slept outside and watched the Milky Way, shooting stars, and satellites in the dark sky.
Evan leaped across this intermittent creek many times.
The sun gradually lit up the canyon as we prepared to go boating.
Damo drew a diagram of Lava Falls and described how we’d plan to run it later in the day: to the right of the giant swirling Ledge Hole, over some waves, and to the left of the Cheesegrater rock.
We set off in the dory as the sun rose over the canyon.
We saw prints from a ringtail cat (a small relative of racoons) in the soft mud outside National Canyon.
We walked along the course of the creek into National Canyon.
The canyon narrows as we walked.
The guides gave advice on how to chimney up the rocks above the rushing stream.
Evan and Paul climbed up this small waterfall to a pool above.
On the way back, the whole canyon was filled by sun.
We floated past bighorn sheep eating grass along the side of the river.
The colors in the rocks were different every day.
Our lunch stop didn’t have shade, but sitting in the cool river was nice.
Evan had lunch with the other teens in a small patch of shade.
Our guide Gary described the plants along the river. Before the dam, the beaches were scoured by annual floods; now they’re covered in purple flowered non-native tamarisk.
We started to see lava rocks along the river, from an eruption about 250,000 years ago.
We climbed over hot lava rocks to scout Lava Falls, the biggest rapid in the canyon.
Damo’s sand diagram helped us recognize features from above.
The guides went further down to discuss their plans for a good run (avoid the boat-flipping swirling hole in the middle).
looking back toward Lava Falls, with lots of lava above the bank
We rowed around a giant lava boulder in the river.
Paul took a video as we rode through Whitmore Rapid.
Every time we arrived at camp, we made a bag line to unload the bags from the boats to the sand.
With no clouds in the sky, we set up our sleeping bags on the tarps.
Our guides had a surprise stash of costumes and got everyone dressed for a party.
Our head guide Lynn made sure everyone was in costume.
Everyone hailed the miracle of ice that Damo produced and used to make cold Lava Juice.
Gold glitter from Lynn and a festive umbrella took Evan’s party attire to the next level.