I don’t know how best to describe our experience in the Grand Canyon, my words and pictures will not do it justice so here’s a poem to set the stage. Steve our guide read this to us before we started one of our days’s on the river.
Anything you have read about the Grand Canyon is a lie
Language falters and dies before the fact
The experience is inexpressible in words
The Grand Canyon is its own language
Written across space, causality and time
See how puny these words are
Do not believe them
– Amil Quayle. Grand Canyon and Other Selected Poem
In 2007 the first time that we did a small hike down the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton point I knew that I wanted to be on the river and before I had even got home I was already researching how to get onto the river!
We finally booked our trip over 18 months ago, we decided to do the 5 night/6 day rafting the upper canyon. At the time of making the reservation we had never camped or been white water rafting before, this was going to be a tester of what the outdoors has to offer to us newbie’s.
The days leading up to the start of our trip I started to feel nervous and excited, I was nervous about the rapids and falling out of the boat but it’s just like being on the log flume at the fair right? I was excited to be on the river and to be surrounded by the canyon.
May 14th, a Saturday morning we arrived at Lee’s Ferry which was our launch site. Our 6 boats were lined up waiting to go, Richard commented “I thought we were on bigger boats” Oh yes so did I. The boats did look small compared to the bigger motorized boat lined up next to ours, I do remember when we booked that I didn’t want the motorized trip, I wanted more of an adventure, I really should pay more attention to these details!
Over the next 5 days we had the best adventure of our lives! Each morning we would be woken at dawn with the coffee call, it was such a magical time of the day in the canyon, the sun was just coming up, it wasn’t too hot and the river was right there just doing it’s thing. We spent the days lazing on the boats through the calm parts of the river looking up in amazement as the canyon seemed to reach for the sky. Then you would hear the thunder of the white water ahead, here we go, there is a rapid around the corner, we would hold on as we prepared to go down/through the white water. It didn’t matter if you were in the front or the back of the boat, the water would smack into you, it was exhilarating and bloody freezing. Just watching the sheer power of the water hitting the surrounding rocks and bouncing our boat around was thrilling, this is Mother Nature at its best.
We had time to do some side hikes, this is when you start to realise the massive scale of the canyon and how dangerous it can be out there if you don’t know what you are doing, luckily for us we had a great team of guides. Each evening we would set up camp right by the river, the guides would prepare dinner while we had a bath in river and then sit with a glass of wine chatting with our new friends about our day on the river. One of my favourite times of the day was falling asleep and waking up listening to the sound of the river. I feel emotional writing this, I already miss being by the river, the new friends we have made and I know we will be back to do the lower canyon or even the full canyon. Grand Canyon is a special magical place it captures your heart and changes you. For the true experience see it from the river, we did our trip with AZraft and we would highly recommend them.
On day 6 it was time to say goodbye to our new friends and the river, we were hiking out of the canyon up the Bright Angel Trail to the south rim. We were dropped off at Pipe Creek and at 7.30am and we started up the trial, it was a tough but rewarding hike and we made it out just after 1pm. I guess now we can call ourselves hikers and campers because we survived and loved our time in Grand Canyon.