Here’s the thing. I didn’t really want to spend a week rafting/camping in the Grand Canyon but my husband really wanted to go. We had visited the North Rim before but I was curious to get deep inside the canyon. I’m not a good camper but I’m from Texas and we’re not known for pleasant summer nights. When friends invited us on a private trip, I said ‘yeah, okay’ and signed up!
The group had booked with Western River who started their trips in 1961 with a uniquely designed boat made of hot dog looking tubes in the front. They picked us up in Las Vegas at 4:45 am to travel to the Boulder City airport so we could catch our flight to Marble Canyon. Once we arrived, our guides met us. Joe, Shad, Justin and Jack were all wonderful guides, cooks, rescuers, medics and companions.
There was a lengthy safety talk the first day at launch. This is an expedition, not a resort. There was an opportunity to opt out if you weren’t willing to be uncomfortable. Medical help is 3-4 hours away. They asked us to stay flexible because you never know what will happen. You need to be able to get on and off the boat without assistance and hike over boulders, on ledges and through streams. I would say it’s not for people who are uncomfortable with 1) sand, 2)not taking a shower for a week, and 3)peeing in the river
The water was down a bit from normal at 8000 cfs. The rapids were still fun and exciting. We had quite a few 8, 9 and 10 class rapids and even one 11. We learned the rapids are rated by danger and technical skill required to navigate. On the fourth day, we had 30 challenging rapids to navigate. We had several 180 turns in the rapids which were (mostly) planned. We had a few passengers spin around but no one fell into the rapids. Camps each afternoon were determined by what’s available and how far we needed to go each day.
The views were amazing. The canyon changed as we rafted along. I loved seeing the 600 foot red wall canyons the first time. I marveled that 6 million go to the Grand Canyon each year, but only 20,000+ see what we saw. We saw lots of Desert Bighorn sheep, mule deer, lizards and one hummingbird that perched on our heads and hands looking for something sweet.
All in all, it was an epic expedition with lots of fond memories and a few bruises. I’m glad I said yes!