Grand Canyon: Hermit & Granite Falls

Thanks to the big 2022-2023 winter, the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam has been running around 20,000 cfs this year, making for some very energetic waves in the rapids through Grand Canyon.

I was mostly on vacation on this trip, but I did want to video at least one rapid, for posterity's sake. Lava Falls was the obvious choice, but our guide, my good friend Marieke Taney, insisted that Hermit was the call.

"Hermit is going to be huge," she said.

All else being equal, higher flow levels tend to wash out rapids—eventually, even major rapids disappear if the water gets deep enough. But in some cases, riverbed geometry interacts with big flows to create even bigger rapids.

At 20,000, Marieke though Lava, though formidable, wouldn't be as stunning as Hermit. Who was I to argue?

My friend Marieke has been running the Colorado for a long time. Over 25 years. I admit, riding along with her at the oars, I wasn't much concerned, even when Hermit's roar became audible in the distance. I knew I was in good hands.

But the river always gets the last word.

Marieke was definitely right about Hermit—it was massive. We got turned slightly approaching the fifth and biggest wave, which broke just as we hit it, catching and snapping our left oar.

That's the river for you.

Though I am of course primarily a Sierra ambassador, I do feel compelled to mention that a full-length oar trip through the Grand Canyon is a truly life-changing experience. Perhaps I'll write more about that someday (or perhaps not).

Either way, I hope you get a chance to do it yourself.

— July 27, 2023

Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents

Brad Brown August 10, 2023 at 12:26 pm

Glad ur getting after it. My daughter and hubby both guided (occasionally now) for Kings River Expeditions, I’ve been many times. Concur with your hydrological assessment, the Kings acts similarly. I’ve been at 2000 and 17,000 CFS. Around 5K the rapids get spicy and the full boat ejections increase-good times.

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