I have been behind on my blogging more than usual after this past South America jaunt and have spent days at home catching up on Peru, Galapagos Islands and Aruba. It’s not unusual for me to lag behind, but it has been much worse lately and when I finally caught up to our latest adventure I happily reported to Scott who had been asking me on a daily basis with feigned concern, “Why do you think it’s taking you so long to write your blogs?” I just tell him that I don’t know, but I do agree that I am a slow blogger, boy howdy! So, when I excitedly told him, “All I have left is the Grand Canyon!” which was only a couple weeks ago and we haven’t done anything else (except for the last 24 hours which is a whole unplanned adventure in itself). He helpfully responded, “Well that will be easy you can just write about how much you hate camping.”
Scott loves the Grand Canyon and I mean “LOVES!!!!!XOXO” the Grand Canyon. He says he gets depressed on the flight out (I just got nervous. I hate flying if you’re not a regular blog reader and getting out of the canyon requires a helicopter and a small windup plane). His dad loves the Grand Canyon too and has rafted down it, I think a total of six times or something crazy like that. So, about five years ago (after Scott and his dad had rafted the canyon twice together on Hatch Rafting Tours) Scott decided that he wanted to go down the canyon with his kids and dad, all together. Okay, you love your kids, you love your dad and you want to share the Grand Canyon with all of them, fine. FINE. We gave his dad (Opa to the kids) a birthday present of a Grand Canyon rafting adventure for his 70th birthday. That was five years ago and while we scheduled the trip the same year we gave it to him, it was rescheduled twice over four years and finally, this year, the third time was the charm. I don’t know if I was more nervous about pooping in the can or being the cause of the third rescheduled trip (I was the cause of the first).
The first two times we scheduled the trip, I wanted to cry every time I thought about it. Our neighbors, very adventurous folk, went on a Grand Canyon rafting trip a couple of years ago and the report was that it was a unique experience. That did not bode well in my mind, but it was on Scott’s bucket list and his Dad’s time and again. So, back to the camping comment. I don’t like camping. I am happy to hike all day but I want a bed and toilet and a shower at night. Rafting the Grand Canyon, the way we did it with Hatch (they are awesome by the way) required six nights of camping and no toilets, beds or showers. I can hear Scott saying but we had cots and they set up a toilet at camp and they fed us really good food. Before we went on the trip, he would say, you sleep on the sand, so it’s not like camping in a tent and they make you coffee. Scott doesn’t think it’s camping when you don’t have to cook. I wish I was that simple.
This year has changed me and so as our six night camping and rafting adventure approached, I dealt with it in a way that is very helpful to me. I didn’t think about it. I packed my stuff and was especially excited when I found canned wine at Trader Joe’s. There was a helpful blurb in the packing list that said…Note***People always wish they would have brought more drinks! Nudge nudge wink wink. Sunscreen, butt wipes, canned wine and a book. I would be just fine. We set off a day early so that we could spend some time peering over the rim of the Grand Canyon before we actually floated down it in a raft.
Our first stop was the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
We spent one night in Marble Canyon at The Cliff Dwellers Lodge before setting out on our raft. This is us and our stuff.
At the launch site we met Ray, our boatman, received our instructions like, if you fall out of the boat and we can’t get to you, try and save yourself. Ashley got to model the life vests which to my delight were absolutely mandatory in order to be on the river.
And we’re off!
We passed under the Navajo Bridge soon after we launched. The view from the boat was vastly different from our view from the rim the day before.
It was a chilly morning and Scott repeatedly assured me that it would warm up in the days to follow.
This was our first lunch stop and an introduction to the sand that we would become quite familiar with during the week. It is everywhere, gets into everything and will suck the moisture completely out of your body.
Part of the fun of the trip was all of the great people we met from all over the United States.
There were hiking opportunities and this particular hike ended at the water and rock formations. Ashley and Scott thought it would be interesting to continue on and so in a burst of adventurousness, encouraged by my new friend and fellow boater Christine, we followed them.
This front section of the boat is called the “bathtub” where you will get the wettest going through the rapids. And what about the rapids, you may be wondering? I was nervous, mostly about losing my children in them, but it turned out to be fun to ride the rapids. In the Grand Canyon the rapids are rated from 1-10, 10 being the biggest, scariest, most dangerous, etc. We rafted through it all and the 8-10’s were exciting but I never felt in danger. Ray would advise us on what to expect and then off we would go.
I rode in the bathtub a few times because the kids thought I needed the experience and I even went through two significant rapids in the front, Crystal and House Rock (they all have names).
Scott, Grant and our wonderful swamper, Jeremiah
It rained on us quite a bit in spite of Scott’s reassurances that the weather would warm up by the second day. And that sand that was always with us got very sticky.
This is a view where the Little Colorado River joins the Colorado. We ate lunch here and the plan was to float across the river, park the rafts and play in the beautiful light blue water. Unfortunately, dark clouds were rolling in and the rain poured down on us.
Rain, thunder and lightning on Oma and Opa, Scott and Ashley.
We hiked to the Nankoweap Granaries carved into the canyon walls by the Anasazi. The view was stunning.
This was another fun hike to Elves Chasm…
…where you can climb up behind the waterfall and jump off.
This hike had a great view.
We saw some Anasazi hand prints high on the canyon walls.
This picture is one of my favorite memories. I walked under the waterfall and Ashley was absolutely thrilled with my accomplishment. She walked beside me and held my hand on the way back to the boat because she was so impressed.
Another chance to play in light blue water and a sunny day to go with it at Havasu Creek.
Riding the pontoons of the boat was a great way to get wet and have an exciting ride. There were a few rapids that were “butts to the boards” which meant no pontoons, sitting down and holding on tightly.
Ashley brought her goggles for the really big rapids.
One of campsites
Grant and Ashley, although you can’t tell.
Some critters we saw along the way.
Life on the river. The food was incredible and I especially loved the coffee in the morning. Who wouldn’t love to be woken with the call,”Cofffeeee!” and find a table loaded with coffee and all of the fixings? We loaded and unloaded the boats everyday and within a few days we all had it down.
I drank a lot of coffee on the trip.
Here, Jeremiah prepares fresh guacamole on day 5 of the trip. A side note here about Jeremiah. He was the nicest, hardest working and most cheerful person I think I have ever met and he treated every single person with the same level of interest and respect. Scott and I told him that we hoped Ashley found someone like him.
The loo with a view
One afternoon in camp Opa taught Ashley and Scott some rope safety for their climbing adventures.
All packed up and ready to get on the boat.
There was a full moon and the nights were so bright. This was our last night, in the middle of the night and Scott got creative with his photography. The shadows are from the light of the moon.
Our ride out of the canyon at 6:00 am!
We were taken to Bar 10 Ranch on the helicopter where we could shower and wait for our plane ride back to Marble Canyon.
Rafting the Grand Canyon was a grand adventure. The beauty of the canyon is indescribable and constantly changing with the shadows and the bends in the river and it’s not all about what you are seeing. I now understand the allure of being deep in the canyon, far from cell service and the distractions of daily life. Days were simple on the river. We rose with the sun, ate, hiked and enjoyed the beautiful, slowly changing scenery and then we were ready for bed by the time it was dark. There were chores like washing your own dishes, loading and unloading the boats and setting up campsites and taking them down. There was the challenge of trying to stay semi-clean and I even washed my hair once in the freezing cold river. It was all so simple though and truly peaceful and worth six nights of camping and every grain of sand.
And one last thing…When we emerged from the depths of the Grand Canyon and finally turned our cell phones back on we learned that we had won Mountain Air’s contest for SmartWool and the LittleFlatGuy!