Hunter and I sharing a moment on one of the many side hikes after a day on the river.
How to begin and what to say? This is a super famous trip and for good reason. Over 200 miles of runnable river, countless rapids that never get too stressful, amazing camping, and escaping the reality of society for 21 days with 16 great friends.. sound good? I can now say from first hand experience that it is soo good!
I must admit, going into this trip I was a little nervous because I didn't personally know everyone on the trip and I had nothing to do with the organising because I was a bit of a last minute ring in. Being quite a long trip with the same people stuck in an amazing canyon may not be everyones idea of fun. For me, I was willing to trust Taylor, Kelly and the others who organised everything and I was pretty stoked on the outcome. They had hired a professional outfitter who gave us all of our group gear, food and the rafts. All that was left up to us was our personal gear and other fun things. My dress ups totalled half of my personal gear..
Once we had made the drive from Sacramento, CA to Flagstaff, AZ was when it really felt like things were happening. Sixteen of us staying at the same Hotel about to embark on a grand adventure together. The only thing left to finalise was the buying of the booze for 21 days of fun!
Here I have a few of the photos that I took. After having my proper camera stolen only a few weeks prior I thought it would be fun to take a different approach and get some instant gratification with a polaroid camera. It was pretty fun with over 200 photos to choose from here are a few of my favourite moments. I feel like I got better at using the thing as the trip went on.. maybe.
So fresh and so clean. About to enter the canyon and say goodbye to civilization for a few days.
The first few days were pretty much about getting used to the nice heavy rafts, learning our roles and how the kitchen/ food systems worked, and everyone relaxing and getting into the groove of the three weeks on the river.
Being such a sort after trip and so well travelled, there is a lot of information out there. Every river mile is described in a guide book camp sites and history to the grade and lines down almost all of the rapids described in detail. This was pretty handy as not one person out of our group had been down the river before.
The first famous spot that we reached was a huge cave called Red Wall. We stopped there for an extended lunch with swimming, music, and a few games of Koob.
As well as cool totally natural places like Red Wall, there were some pretty incredible remains from the Native Americans that were great to visit. Our first historical site that we arrived at was the Nankoweep (tribe) Granaries. These were high up off of the valley floor where they stored their grain that was grown down on the valley next to the river.
River life. Hide from the sun, have a beer, and enjoy the scenery and company.
Another one of the highlights was getting to the Little Colorado River (LCR). We had a relatively short day on the water so that we could go an explore up the side valley. The LCR was quite a lot warmer than the main river because it isn't coming out of a huge dam and it is also where most of the sediment comes from which changes the colour of the Colorado River.
Mary and Karen admiring old old pottery that's so old I forgot how old it is. Leftovers from the native tribe that used to live there.
Caveman found in one of the side canyons.
One of the more famous hikes down there is a full day walk that takes you up one side creek, over a ridge that is hot as fuck, to a few really cool springs that pump out of the sides of the canyon walls, then down another canyon getting back to the main river just below where we started where there was a great waterfall to rinse off in. Because we are all pretty confident outdoors we got a little led astray by the low water route and a few of us took the straight up a cliff option that seemed to work out just fine albeit just a little exposed.
Austin, Cara & Colby being all mountain goaty.
Playing the waiting game while our fearless trip leaders were making good decisions on our behalf.
After such a long walk and it being Bucky's birthday we may have used beer to rehydrate after a long day hiking in the desert heat and we may have become a little useless. We were hanging out, proceeded to hydrate some more all tied together above the longest rapid in the canyon as the responsible ones made sure it was just class II and there was good camping below.
I was lucky enough to have my 28th birthday only a few days later right in the guts of the canyon. Here we are with all five boats tied together having a grand ol' time!
For the trip we had been put into four groups of four and these were the different food groups. We would take turns at cooking for the group, setting up the Groover, filtering the drinking water, and having a day off. It would happen quite often that the food group would make up rules or conditions of eating if you will. One day a champ who will not be named labelled our last Monday on the river as Mandatory Monday. So at 7:30am, before breakfast was served it was mandatory to drink a beer. Needless to say this then set the scene for the rest of the day and it turned out to be quite memorable!
This is a "Groover". An ammo can that you poop in. I can tell you the first thing I missed after getting off the river was the view that you had every morning as you took care of business.
They liked our unicorn so from here we became friends and we ended up camping together and having a party attempting to get through our supplies days before the end of the trip.
Paying tribute to the river gods.
The last night was also a good time. We could celebrate although we hadn't quite reached the take out, we were only just upstream of it and we had made it through with no carnage and no drama. Taking three weeks out of day to day life to live simply on the river was incredible. If you ever get the chance to do a trip like it, I'd say of course do it! I'm sure I'll be back and the trip will be completely different but just as good.
A huge thanks to Kelly and Taylor for inviting me along and everyone on the trip who made it what it was. AMAZING!!