River mile 188-221; swim 3 Springs rapid

Our last full day in the canyon, head guide Lynne encouraged us to enjoy it and not think about returning to the rim world until she discussed logistics after dinner. We felt the influence of the Mojave Desert at the canyon opened up. Mel rowed our boat through a fierce hot wind that blasted upriver and felt like a hairdryer. At lunch, Gary led a short walk into the desert to see ocotillo in leaf.
In the afternoon, Mel rowed hard against more hairdryer wind, but said she loves to row. We stopped at mile 216 and climbed up onto some rocks above the river. From there, we jumped into the river, swam 3 Springs rapid, and got hauled back into the boats waiting below. We ran a few more rapids before pulling over for our last camp at mile 221.
Columns of frozen lava backed our camp.
looking downstream from camp at Lower Whitmore, mile 188
There were flies everywhere in this camp. They seemed especially attracted to bottles with gatorade (this is water).
The can recycling area also attracted an amazing number of flies.
The canyon walls were wider than previous days.
Evan lounged on the side of boat.
He didn’t need to move for the smaller rapids.
Evan, Caroline, and Sam immediately scrambled up the rocks to eat lunch.
We all jumped off a rock into the river before and after lunch.
We followed Gary into the desert to see a ocotillo in leaf.
Many of the barrel cactus were in bloom.
The woody branches of the ocotillo quickly grow tiny leaves after rain, then drop them in drought.
According to the guides, the yellow-flowered creosote had just recently started blooming.
The canyon was wider and lower as we turned south. Hot desert wind blasted upriver as we turned south; it felt like rowing into a hairdryer.
A few clouds made welcome patches of shade along the river.
We stopped upriver 3 Springs Rapid, and climbed up the rocks above it. Lynn explained how to swim the rapid: stay in the middle and go to the closest boat at the end.
Sam, Caroline, and Evan immediately jumped off the cliff and floated downstream toward the rapid.
river-level view of approaching 3 Springs rapid
After a long day of rowing, we slept out under the stars at mile 221.