On August 10, 2016, we had just hiked up to the Patio at Deer Creek. The water in the creek was clear and refreshing as usual and we all enjoyed the morning without any worry about rain. It was especially nice since the Colorado River had been muddy since River Mile 1 at Lees Ferry where the Paria River was still kicking in sediment after a round of heavy rains during the first days of the month in northern Arizona and southern Utah. The forecast for the week we were on the river called for gradual drying of the atmosphere. We got an updated forecast on our stop at Phantom Ranch and it showed a 30% chance of showers on August 10. I figured it would be another trip without rain because after all, a 30% chance of rain is also a 70% chance for no rain.
After the Deer Creek stop we ran Doris Rapid and got wet in the muddy water. It began to look dark up ahead but clear blue skies surrounded the dark cloud. Then we ran Fishtail Rapid and began to enter the upper end of The Icebox, a section of the river that is quite cold in the winter. The dark cloud looked even darker now but the blue sky that continued to be seen over the north side of the canyon didn't really seem to indicate what was on the way. Someplace about halfway between Fishtail Canyon and Kanab Creek, big drops of rain began to fall. They were widely spaced but huge drops. It picked up until we could barely see up ahead at all. My raincoat was deeply buried in my camp gear and it never really got cold. But then about the time we ran Kanab Creek Rapid, the skies let loose with heavy rain and hail. Yep, it was hailing with pea-size pellets of hail, which stung your body really sharply when they hit a knuckle bone or your toes. I looked up and began to wonder if this would be one of those rare events in Grand Canyon. We were not disappointed!
I remember one particular August 11 around the early 1980's that was stupendous in this part of Grand Canyon. Seems like the second week of August is a good time to see these types of events here.