I returned last week from the 7-day, 6-night trip. I've waited a week because I was trying to summarize in my mind how to describe this trip. I'm no further in that description now than I was a week ago. It's almost impossible to put this into words and expect to do it justice.
Our guides were Ben, Newty, Ronnie and Micki (sic?). These people were unbelievable. Sit back and be amazed at all they do. Load, unload, cook, clean, steer, hike, teach, administer first aid if needed, and countless other things.
If one of them yells "Suck rubber!", then suck rubber. They know. If one of them says this hike may test your physical limits, then take that advice. They know. And they do all this and more in their 10 consecutive 16+ hour days, between two back to back trips. At one point, one of them told me they had close to a combined total of 600 trips between them.
To describe what sights you'll see is almost impossible. All I can come up with is this: No slam on Buffalo, New York but one of the only reasons to go there is to see Niagara Falls. It's a vacation destination. This trip gives you a vacation destination around every bend. There's always something beautiful to see.
Micki is a college graduate. I forget what she said her major was in. I know it wasn't geology. But she could lecture any geology professor on the rock(s) in the G.C. And she learned all this on her own because she loves the rocks in the G.C. She doesn't care about rocks anywhere else but the G.C. I know her major wasn't in history. But she could lecture any history professor on the history of the G.C. Her talks on the various Native Americans and expeditions over time were so interesting.
Ronnie steered our raft with confidence. Going through a set of rapids backward? Don't worry about it. She knows what she's doing and knows the current will swing us around.
Ben and Newty were on the other raft so I can't speak as much about them, but I can say with confidence that Ben has my kind of sense of humor and Newty played three different instruments in one song our last night.
The food is crazy good. It's almost a surreal experience to eat bananas Foster and at the bottom of the G.C., that's right! Bananas Foster WITH ice cream at the bottom of the G.C.
These guides even ordered up great weather. Sure, it may have been a little windy at times. It may have gotten a little chilly about 4:00 a.m. each morning. Yeah, there are lots of shadows in the morning to go with the 50-degree splashes in morning rapids. But the weather overall was perfect. The water was clear all the way through. We saw so many Bighorn sheep every day that people on the raft quit jumping for their cameras by the 4th day.
Here are some tips I thought of:
1) It wouldn't hurt if you bought some velcro and tried applying it just above your wrists and ankles. I don't think it matters how good your rain suit is, some water will seep in somewhere. It's impossible to stay dry when plowing into a 4' wall of standing water.
2) The sand/grit is everywhere and it blows. Think that Otterbox rubber lining around your phone is sufficient? Oh no, I'm not sure if this would work, but maybe bring a small can of compressed air with you.
3) Don't be like me and buy a Go-Pro a month before your trip and expect to learn it in time. And much thanks to Micki for coming up with a leash.
4) Be ready to leave your comfort zone. You've probably never done this before. And you'll be all the happier at the end that you left that zone periodically and know you're now capable of more.
5) Make note of the way the moon - a half-moon out there was equivalent to a full moon where I'm from and I live in the country - dances across one canyon wall, then the other wall as it sets, and finally you're left with just a swath of stars after the moon sets.
6) Guys - Hear me on this. Yes, they give everyone a "pee bucket" the first day. But those buckets pale in comparison to a portable urinal for guys. Fork out $10 at a Walgreen's or CVS and it'll be the best $10 you'll spend on this trip. You'll never even have to leave your cot. Just dump it in the river the next morning.
7) Don't forget to tip. Whatever your tip, it won't be sufficient. They're that good.
8) After years of anticipation and months of research and more anticipation and then days of overwhelming beauty and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, be prepared for an emotional crash for a few days afterward. You'll go from 80 to 0 overnight and it was a real letdown for me.
In closing, just do it. Don't think about it. Don't talk yourself out of it. Everyone needs a life-defining trip/moment and I just went through mine.
Seven days of not one word about politics will evidently do that to me. Life's too short to argue politics on Facebook with total strangers or close friends/family members from behind a keyboard.
I think I've emerged a better person because of this. I'm not so quick to jump/disagree. I recognize now more than ever that everything is fleeting. Nothing is permanent . . . even the Grand Canyon. It changes every day.
A unforgettable journey of 188 miles from Lake Powell to Lava Falls.
Raft 100 miles on the Colorado River through Grand Canyon.