Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A “Grand” Adventure–Getting Ready

When people ask up what has been our favorite place to visit, it really is hard to say. Each place has been unique……some more amazing than others, of course. But the place that we seem to keep coming back to is the Grand Canyon.


For me it started years ago (as a child) when I first read Colin Fletcher’s book “The Man Who Walked Through Time” about his journey, on foot, through the length of the Grand Canyon. Since that time…..and through many more of Colin Fletcher’s books, including “The River, Source to Sea” about rafting the Colorado River, I have maintained my fascination with the Canyon, and with that solitary ‘backcountry’ experience.

Years ago……21 years, I believe…..we took a trip out west with our kids. That was the first up close experience we had with the Canyon. Then, in 2004, we hiked the canyon from the south rim, to the bottom with our children, then mostly grown. Fred and I did the same hike again, in 2012 (see blog). We had hiked the canyon halfway down to Plateau Point in 2010 with Becky, a friend and cousin.  I guess the only way left to see the canyon seemed to be from the river!


Now, rafting the Grand Canyon conjures up images of massive rapids being run by adrenaline junkie types. After all, the Colorado River is noted for its awesome whitewater. But, that is not the reason that we were drawn to a rafting trip. Fred and I like the outdoors, and we like to see and experience those places that you might not be able to get to any other way other than backpacking or rafting. Rafting allows for a much easier trip than backpacking, especially when going on a guided trip with an experienced outfitter. Our first such experience was in 2012  (Rafting the Copper River ) in Alaska, and again in 2013,  (Rafting the Snake River) in Idaho. These two trips convinced us that we could, indeed we should, experience the Canyon on a rafting trip.

Our friend, Becky, had always said that if we got ready to raft the Grand Canyon, sign her up! It had been a dream of hers since the age of 16! You can follow Becky’s adventures on this trip at Kinexxions. (By the way - Becky is the one who got me started on blogging)   : )

So, about a year ago….Yes, they say that you should reserve your trip a year in advance…..we paid our deposits and took a leap of faith…….scheduling a 15 day rafting trip beginning from Lees Ferry just below the Glen Canyon Dam and ending at Pearce Landing at Lake Meade. We will start on Sept 17th and be at Lake Meade on Oct 1st. (note- during this time we will be ‘off-line’ and out of touch. I will have to catch everyone up on the blog when we get back to ‘civilization’).

We are rafting with an experienced outfitter, Outdoors Unlimited. On this trip, we will be in an oared raft with our guides doing all the work of oaring us down the river.  The trip usually books 18 guests and 6 or so guides. The guides also do all the cooking and camp chores, making this really ‘luxury camping’.

This particular trip is considered an ‘extended ‘ trip, allowing a slower pace and more time hiking the side canyons. We picked this particular time of the year because the season for powered boats would be over, making for a quieter run of the river. Also, the weather should be cooling down a bit and be more pleasant for hiking and for sleeping.

We invited whichever of our kids to join us on this trip that could, and our daughter, Sarah and her husband, Jason, who live in the Phoenix area, decided to join us for the 9 day, lower half of the canyon trip. They will hike down to the River and join us at the Phantom Ranch area to continue the second half of the trip.

Taking on a trip like this requires a certain amount of ‘nerves’….and I get nervous before just about any trip that we take. I keep wondering….Is 15 days going to seem like forever? Answer – Yes, probably at some point in this trip, we will all be wishing we could just be home in our own cozy beds. I know that the challenge of a 15 day trip will stretch our comfort zone, but that is what trips like this are about…….and it is precisely what we are looking for.

I worry about meeting a bunch of strangers and having to all get along and work as a team. Will I fit in….will they like me….will I like them? But, once again, that is part of the appeal of these kinds of guided group trips……the chance to meet and really get to know a new group of people.

And….will I have packed everything that I need? (remember, no Wal-Mart close by). Truthfully, I am more likely to have packed way more than I need….so the worry really should be  “Will it all fit in the small dry bag that they will give us?”

What about being out of touch and off the grid? I must admit that I worry a bit about this, but I know that we CAN be reached in a real emergency. And, I am looking forward to ‘unplugging’ and just settling into a bit more ‘real time’ living. I think that the quiet time will lend itself to reflection and time for deeper thinking - or just staring at the river.   ; )

I don’t worry so much about the ins and outs of the rafting trip. I know that we have some experience and that we will be able to adapt pretty easily. I am not that worried about the very large rapids. I just plan to HANG ON! The side hikes should be fun……and I feel well prepared for any hiking challenge.

So…….A year later….and what seems like waaaay too much anticipation and preparation……the time has finally come!

We stopped through Chandler, AZ to visit with Sarah and Jason before the trip. Being somewhat more experienced at the rafting trips, we felt like we could help them pack what they need in the small backpacks which they will carry down with them.

2014-09-15 06.26.46

We are also meeting up with Becky in Chandler and she will ride with us to our starting destination…..Lees Ferry.

See ya when we get off the river!

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