25 Slices
Medium 9780874212341

13 More of Mexico, 1963-1964

Richard Westwood Utah State University Press ePub

In August 1963 Georgie’s wanderlust took her on another trip to the Rio Balsas in Mexico. The party of seven included a man named John (last name unknown), Orville Miller, Ivan Summers, Allan O’Brien, Ellis L. Spackman, Delphine Mohrline, and Georgie. In an article about the trip, Spackman said:

Georgie is one of the most extra-ordinary women in America. I am sure you have seen her pictures on TV. She has taken more people down more rivers than anyone else. She has been instrumental in working out the technique. And she hasn’t lost a client yet.

It is obviously designed for men only, yet the champion is a woman, and not a very big one at that. It isn’t fair to us men.1

From the journal of Delphine Mohrline Gallagher, we learn more details of that trip.2 In Mexico City on August 14, it took one whole day to get the rubber boats loaded on the truck from the attic where they were stored and to get Georgie’s other baggage off the plane and through customs. At 8 P.M. they were finally on their way for the five-hour truck ride to the town of Mexcala, where they would enter the Balsas River.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780874212341

3 From Passenger to Boatman, 1948-1952

Richard Westwood Utah State University Press ePub

In February 1948 Georgie wrote to Harry: “I am open to any and almost all trips. That is what I live for and one summer to the next certainly seems long. Does it to you?”1

Over the next few months Georgie and Harry made plans to go down the Escalante River. They arrived at the small town of Escalante in southern Utah on May 24 and bought provisions for the trip. Both the town and river are named for Fray Silvestre Vélez de Escalante of the Domínguez-Escalante expedition of 1776. Oddly, Escalante neither saw nor came close to the river bearing his name. Major Powell also floated past its mouth on both his 1869 and 1871 explorations of the Colorado River unaware that it was a major tributary. A year later in 1872 the Thompson-Dellenbaugh survey party at first took it for the Dirty Devil, then realizing their error, took credit for its discovery. It proved to be the last river to be discovered in the contiguous United States.2 Even at this time in 1948, very few Anglos had traveled down the Escalante.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780874212341

9 Exploring Mexican Rivers, 1958-1959

Richard Westwood Utah State University Press ePub

Always looking for new rivers to explore, Georgie had for some time been considering a trip in Mexico. The first such expedition was finally set for the fall of 1958. The party would include Lillian Lasch, Paul Kelly, Marshall Bond, Jr., Frank Rich, Jr., and Orville Miller. They had planned to explore the Rio Papigochico Aros, but that didn’t pan out, as the river and surrounding area were inundated by a tropical storm.

On the flight into Mexico the party encountered continuous torrential rains. On all sides were nothing but clouds. When they finally dropped low enough to see the countryside, the group found the entire terrain flooded. They would later find roads washed out, telephones out of commission, telegraph wires down, and people marooned on high spots hoping desperately for help. More than thirty thousand people were believed to have been left temporarily homeless.

The pilot tried desperately to maneuver out of the storm, flying up several valleys only to be forced back the same way he had come. Fuel was getting low and they were looking for a known emergency landing field. When they finally located it, it was one big lake with the runways completely inundated.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780874212341

12 Exploring Canadian Rivers, 1963

Richard Westwood Utah State University Press ePub

Early in June 1963 Georgie made a trip through Cataract Canyon. There were thirty-seven passengers in all, plus Georgie and her dog, Sambo, who made a number of raft trips with her before the Park Service decided dogs should not be allowed on the river.1

Delphine Mohrline was riding on the little boat when they came to Satan’s Gut. She saw the rapid at close range and began to wonder whether it was not a waterfall instead. The drop looked tremendous. She said:

Over we went into this trough about 12 feet deep—the front side came up to meet the backside, we were all lifted off our seats and slammed back down again, twisting and turning, and wondering if our fingers were going to be able to keep holding on. Art and I knocked heads together, even though we were sitting 4 feet apart in different sections of the boat. He said he had been a steeplejack in earlier years and didn’t think the rapids of the Colorado could offer anything more exciting than that. Wonder if he still holds that opinion.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780874212341

6 Branching Out to New Rivers, 1955

Richard Westwood Utah State University Press ePub

In 1955 Eisenhower was in the White House, Stalin was dead, and the Korean conflict was over. But things were hectic as ever for Georgie. Her schedule that year was quite ambitious. It called for two trips through Glen Canyon in April, a San Juan River and Glen Canyon trip in May, two Glen Canyon trips in June, and “The Mighty Grand Canyon” in July, about which she noted, “Only 216 people (as of 1954 figures) have made this trip.”1 She planned another Glen Canyon trip in August, also runs on the Middle Fork of the Salmon, the Big Salmon River, and Hell’s Canyon of the Snake River in August and September. Motion pictures of previous trips were shown on request to groups and individuals to interest potential passengers.

This year Georgie also began to experiment further with three ten-man rafts tied together. These rafts were quite maneuverable with oars, but even more so with a small motor; and with the motor pushing the rafts, the trip was speeded up by several days. Linking the three rafts together was a real breakthrough, but was only for the more adventurous souls. She could now run all the rapids without portaging, though there was still the danger of one raft folding over onto the others. She wanted to be able to take families with children and older people.

See All Chapters

See All Slices