MAY 2008- Trip on the Colorado River down the Grand Canyon.
I left for the Colorado River on May 2 and spent 16 days kayaking the Grand Canyon with an excellent group of boaters from the Bitterroot Valley, Missoula and from Colorado. The permit holder, Greg Lakes had his name in the permit process for 18 years and it finally was his turn. We launched 4 18 foot Sotar rafts from Pro Outfitters, one personal 14 foot Hyside, and about 6 kayaks and certainly one canoe on a beautiful sunny morning after outfitting in Flagstaff and spending the night by the launch site. Additionally we outfitted with Pro's food setup which was great, well organized and quality ingredients. We were treated to 16 days of great weather with only a sprinkling of rain one night. While sixteen days may seem like enough time we spent most of the days on the river with only one layover day for a full day hike. We hiked Tapeats creek and tried to make it to the cave but high water, lack of the map, and a dozen stream crossings found us still quite short of that goal. A great hike with most of the group detouring up to the Thunder River at the end to witness the extraordinary power and volume of this waterfall emerging from a hole in the side of a cliff and plunging and cascading 1500 vertical feet to Tapeats Creek in the valley below.
Highlights included 200 plus rapids over the course of 230 river miles with Sockdolager, Bedrock, Granite, the 20s, Hans, Hermit, Crystal, and Lava falls giving us all a great taste of and for the big water. Paddling such a mighty river down through such a majestic canyon was surreal and the juxtaposition of rock cliffs and water and desert was hard to compare to anything else I have seen. I had been down the canyon with my father 20 years ago and eagerly accepted the invitation to return and paddle from the cockpit of my own boat, what a thrill day after day. Many have asked if it was a trip of a lifetime and while yes it was, I hope to return as often as possible that I am invited or secure my own permit. If I ever travel the river with such a great group, I will feel especially lucky. With folks from their twenties to sixties along, the generations were well represented and we had a great time enjoy the comraderie.
As I reflect on the trip, I realize that it cemented my commitment to the kayak as an amazing river tool and my dedication to becoming as proficient in it as possible. The kayak group encouraged me to surf big waves, drop side creek waterfalls and were always there with a smile after a big falls or rapids had juiced us all up. Aside from one raft flip in Lava, many ducky kayak swimmers and more than a few combat rolls we emerged from the canyon with no more than some open sores, sunburns, tendonitis, and too many photos to deal with well. Below I have included some photos that I took and some that others took. Many moments will be memories only and next time I will conserve my battery longer! Thanks to all on the trip especially the father/son teams that made their dream a reality for us all. Greg and Jesse Lakes, Dave and Nate Demmons, Bill and Tyler Bradt you are an inspiration to this dad to get his daughters out on the river often.