Feature series-Part 1

‘Extremes’ would be my best description of a Grand Canyon rafting trip in July. How can you find words to describe an eight-day trip of sheer excitement, new experiences, dramatic geology and awesome, unimaginable beauty?

The extremes are many! You get so hot; eggs could fry on nearby rocks. The cold experienced through rapids made my teeth chatter and gave me goose bumps. How can one be so comfortable on the boat deck gazing up at the massive rock sentinels of Marble and Grand Canyons, and then suddenly be sitting upright holding onto everything during a serious rapids?

Nights were spent sleeping under the stars, so numerous they dazzled your mind with color. But then, there were also those troublesome red ants!

Two major boating companies are in our area, Grand Canyon Expeditions and Western River. We traveled with Grand Canyon Expeditions, and were picked up in Fredonia. Out of state guests had convened in Las Vegas the night before. Bused to Lee’s Ferry, the group gathered with two boats, two guides and two swampers, before their 240 plus mile adventure to Lake Mead.

While Dennis and I were meeting family and friends, most were complete strangers. That presented an interesting challenge. You are putting 16 strangers together in close proximity to spend eight days together, sans friends, family, cellphones, TV, radio, iPads, computers...well, you get my drift.

Our boat guide was JoLinda, and her brother Ty served as her swamper. On the other boat, Greg commanded the vessel, with help from his brother Glade. Three meals a day were prepared along the route. Numerous side hikes were offered, and the guides provided interesting geological and archeological information.

At Lee’s Ferry on the first day, you are immediately taken in by the sheer beauty of your surroundings. The first few rapids give you a hint of what’s to come, even though most are so small they aren’t even rated.

That day is spent just learning what you’re supposed to do on the adventure. Note – you can only pee in the river – not ever on land, unless a bucket is provided. This is challenging to many. It’s odd to walk into the water (that’s freezing) to ‘try’ to pee. Two things are going against you – one, most aren’t used to everyone knowing they’re peeing. The second is, the water is seriously cold, and getting your body to cooperate is a challenge!

You soon become close friends with your fellow boaters, and you learn to get past many of your own fears. Completing demanding hikes, sleeping on the ground (despite the ants), and riding the boat through the major rapids, gives you a sense of accomplishment.