Monday, October 12, 2009

RAFTING THE COLORADO


Pam at Digging invites us to share our National Park experiences. In 1995 David and I were in our 'pretending to be young' phase of life. ( In case your wondering this is one of Jane Fonda's 3 phases of life; Being young, pretending to be young and being old). We signed up for the week long rafting trip down the Colorado River, which passes through the Grand Canyon Park.
A friend had done this trip a few years before and I wasn't at all put off by the fact that she came back without a voice from all the screaming!
The trip was run by Western River Expeditions. We flew into Las Vegas and drove out to Lees ferry to board our J rig with about 12 other guests. We were told to bring only 15lb of luggage, wine and beer in non glass containers, waterproof suit and a roll of duct tape. I adhered strictly to the 15 lb limit but I could see immediately that others were bringing more. One girl brought a gas curling iron! We were each given a life jacket and an ammo can into which to put anything we wanted during the day; camera, lotion etc. Off we set.

I would have to say that day 1 was a complete shock to the system. The water was frigid and we went through so many rapids and got so soaking wet I was almost ready to call it quits as we landed on this gorgeous beach. Oh, the feel of the warm sand. But no, we couldn't spend the night here as this was a protected area. A quick stagger around and then back in the raft.

Further down the river our guides finally found us a beach area to spend the night, sleeping out under the stars, the walls of the canyon looming high above us. As the guys got busy with dinner preparations I could see that this was to be the gourmet rafting trip. Halibut on the first night out! This was the point at which it was discovered that the plates had not been loaded into the raft. So we made do for the whole trip by covering our ammo can lid with foil. It worked. 3 rectangular meals a day! (The British navy coined this phrase with their square plates.)

Although there are many rapids on the Colorado there are places where the water is calm and we drifted along listening to the stories told by our guides. Stories of early explorers and of the geology of the canyon.

There was plenty of opportunity to stop and hike. Here we hiked up to some Anasazi ruins.

The further we headed down the river the warmer the water became. That certainly made a difference as we went through the rapids. There were some pretty rough rides. There are two places to sit on the rig, the front pontoons and the area at the back called the chicken coup. Straddled over the pontoons you had to hold on to the ropes for dear life. Several times the force of the trip through the rapids ripped your hands off the ropes. One girl went over the front of the rig and we had to cut the engine. Now out of control we ended up crashing against the rocks and it took a while to gain control of the craft. Sound like fun. We got used to hearing the guide call out "suck rubber"

It was a really fun group.

Every day there was talk about these terrible rapids- Lava Falls. Finally the day came. We watched the other rig go first. The rapids really didn't look that bad! David and I were sitting on the pontoons at the front and I 'sucked rubber' and held on with all my strength. I felt David crash into my left side as the force tore his left hand off the ropes- and then we were through and into calmer water.

On the last night the guides served us champagne and shrimp cocktail before the meal. They did a wonderful job and everyone had the best time.

There is only one way out of that canyon and that is by helicopter. A short ride took us up to a ranch where we boarded a small plane to Las Vegas. It truly was the trip of a lifetime.

9 comments:

  1. Jenny, you take adventuring to a whole new level. I would do this trip someday; maybe it'll be my next trip into the canyon---because I certainly can't imagine hiking the darn thing! I love your pictures in this post and the details about the journey. Thank you!

    OK, I have to ask: in that fairly treeless canyon, how did everyone "heed nature's call" during the week-long trip?

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  2. I have heard of these trips but have never seen photos or heard detailed accounts about them. It sounds like great fun.

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  3. Pam, I wish I had taken a photo of our Johnny on the spot. It had the most awesome view every day. A tented affair with a portable toilet and they packed everything in and out! I seem to remember that there was something we took from the rock nearby when we went in so that everyone knew when it was occupied.
    Lisa- I would count it among the best trip I have ever taken.

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  4. What a trip! It sounds like quite a bit of fun. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  5. Wow, what an adventure!! That sounds like so much fun. Thank you for remembering it with us.

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  6. Looks like a fantastic trip. You came away with some great pictures, as well as great memories.

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  7. While this post may be as close as I ever get to rafting the canyon, it is yet a lot more likely I'll even try after reading your enthusiastic report on the experience. I'll add my vote - thanks for sharing!

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  8. Thank you! I will probably never do one of these trips so it was delightful to go along on yours.
    Barbara H.

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  9. What fun to read your National Park posts - it's amazing to see how adventurous a life you've lead, Jenny - and are still leading!

    Reading your posts is close enough for me...in real life I'd spend the entire trip throwing up over the side of the raft :-[

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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