Saturday, May 8, 2021

Photo Friday comes on Saturday: Grand Canyon Rafting #1

Got distracted, so as so often happens, my Friday post is here today!

Some of you may have noticed that I was gone most of April. I was off enjoying a mobile COVID pod, otherwise known as rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon! I'm still working on the photos (of course), but here's a quick look at some from the first two days of the trip! We booked with AZRA--Arizona Raft Adventures--and were extremely happy with the whole trip.

The trip started and ended in Flagstaff--so with a 3-hour bus ride. This might have been our chance to start getting to know each other, but masked and still thinking about COVID, we tended to stay in our seats. In my case, that was the front seat, in my quest to avoid motion sickness.

Peering eagerly ahead as we near the river--knowing the cliffs ahead (the Vermilion Cliffs) are on the other side.

We stopped at the Navajo Bridge--the only river crossing for a long way in either direction--to see the Canyon for the first time, and to check for condors.

The bridge on the left is the new highway bridge, opened in 1995. On the right, the original 1929 bridge is now pedestrian-only.

Under both bridges you can often find endangered California condors, reintroduced to the area well away from roads, but preferring the steel girders!

We arrived at Lee's Ferry, the standard put-in for Grand Canyon trips, in the late morning. A flurry of activity got the bus unloaded, then we found lifejackets and prepared to load the boats.

Much faster than I would have expected, we were pushing off from the landing, loaded down with all our dry bags and, as we would learn, a veritable mountain of food.

Two in front, two in back, one guide on the oars.

In no time at all we were cruising back under the bridges we'd just crossed, and entering the wilderness. In the next nearly 300 miles, the only crossing is a pair of foot bridges at Phantom Ranch (Mile 88. Miles on the river are counted from Lee's Ferry).

Passing under the bridges, for another chance to see the condors.

With a stop for lunch, we pushed on down the river until about 6 p.m. The wind was calm, a boon not to be cast away by the people who have to row against the almost constant headwinds in the Canyon. It did mean that we arrived in camp pretty much frozen, soaked by rapids and long since having seen the last of the sun.

Heading in and out of--but mostly in--deep shadow in the Canyon.

The campsite we got that night was pretty tight, so I put up a tent in "condo row " (far left). I wondered if we could really dry our things as night was so near, but I shouldn't have worried.

My BiL/SiL, in the middle tent, were my excellent travel companions!

Morning comes early on the river. By shortly after 5 cowboy coffee was on the stove, and long before 6 we were up and packing. I never had to worry about missing the best morning light.

Rafts tied along the shore as the light just touches the cliffs.

Meals were fantastic. Aside from a mug of aforementioned cowboy coffee, we had a different breakfast every day. Our first morning, it was amazing banana pancakes.

That first morning it took us to 8:45 to reach launch, though by the end of the trip we were ready as early as 8 each day.

The boat shoving off is the paddle raft, where clients who wished to could do their own paddling. Tendonitis in my elbow kept me off that one, but it looked like a blast!

With the winds again favorable to rowing, we didn't try to hike the second day, either.  But we did make a pretty much required stop at the Redwall Cavern, which John Wesley Powell described as large enough to hold a symphony concert. He exaggerated some, but it is very large and has nice acoustics.

We always got to stop and get off for lunch, a chance to dry off and stretch our legs before the next exciting stretch of rapids (it took a few days before I got any photos of rapids--I had to get over the tendency to cling in terror to the lines!)

Though nights were cool, especially early in the trip, days were very warm, and the umbrella over the lunch table was important!

We spent the afternoon lazing on the river, when not getting wet (often in riffles that don't even get a name!).

This second night I decided to go with the standard for Canyon camping--no tent. That would become my norm, and I put up my tent only twice more, when wind-blown sand drove me to try to find shelter.

A room with a view--and no-barriers star-gazing!

After two days, I knew it was going to be a wonderful trip, but I admit I wondered if 16 days would feel too long. Spoiler alert: it didn't.

The dory. Scary to watch in the rapids, fun to ride.

Watch this space for more photos from the trip!


Psst... count-down to Release Day: just 8 days to Death By Donut! 

 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2021
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  1. Ah! Some pictures at last. Please continue commenting on the meals, particularly dinners. What were they serving? Did you take notes? Anxiously awaiting further episodes.

    1. I bet everyone can tell you're one of my backpacking buddies just by the food questions! Lots of good food on this trip.

    2. Well, I have been on parts of this trip, and most people can judge by my size that i like to eat.

  2. I've always wanted to see the Grand Canyon in person. Your post has me envious. :)

    1. You have to do it sometime! At the very least visit the Rim and look over, but any chance to hike it or raft it should be nabbed :)


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