– M o r n i n g –
The sun starts to warm us up as we drift in and out of cool shadows. Two thousand feet of canyon walls are a dazzling testament to Mother Nature’s unique and artistic flair. Suddenly we all hear it: a roar of water and a lower groan of massive boulders grinding in the riverbed. Our guide pauses and begins to tell us about the early river pioneers for which the rapid and associated side canyons have been named. Time slows as we drift closer to the tongue of the rapid. Our guide makes small corrections as we approach and my heart leaps to the back of my throat in anticipation. Here we go! We drop with a surprising suddenness into a face-paced world of whitewater. “Here we go, Hold ON!” our guide calls and with white knuckles we lean into the oncoming water, hoping our weight will steady the boat as she ascends the wave.
At the bottom we all laugh feeling a variety of emotions: relief at getting through safely, sadness to have it behind us, and an overwhelming sense of awe and celebration.
– S u n r i s e –
We wake to the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, as we do every day, along with the morning croak-like call from our guide: “COFFEEeee!”. I’m amazed that the coffee down here is so good! The birds serenade us as we pack up our sleeping bags. Breakfast today is freshly cooked eggs, sausage and English muffins. After breakfast we form a duffle line, working together to load the boats and head out for a day of exploration.
– E a r l y A f t e r n o o n –
We stop to explore a side canyon and follow our guide as we walk along the trail, scrambling over rocks and sloshing through a small stream. As we walk the side canyon narrows and we get relief from the sun in pockets of shade along the way. Around a bend we hear the rush of water falling and a familiar, yet unexpected sound: frogs croaking.
We arrive to see a waterfall cascading over rock layers in a ribbon of white. It seems a miracle to us, to see a small paradise in the middle of the desert. The birds apparently agree with this notion, having found insects to feast on as they fly in and out of light and shade. After cooling off in the falls we all drift into shaded places to lounge and breathe. We are all so present and thoughts of life on the rim are few and fleeting.
Lunch was fabulous.
– L a t e A f t e r n o o n –
Floating quietly upon the river our eyes trace the flight of an osprey as it comes down and dips into the river in search of sustenance. Our guide tells us stories of the early Grand Canyon explorers, of their tenacity and hardiness, of their triumphs and follies. It’s warm but after a bit of whitewater we are all refreshed. We head downstream for our campsite, eagerly anticipating another flavorful and satisfying meal over which we will relive the day’s events. We have bonded after so many days on the river, the richness of the experience bringing us together in a way only a river trip can accomplish.
– E v e n i n g –
After a dinner of grilled salmon, black beans and rice, and a tossed salad, we enjoy our dessert: brownies baked in a Dutch oven over coals. The sun’s departure ushers in the pageantry of the brilliant night sky. Getting drowsy, we relax in our sleeping bags as darkness settles in. The stars are just beginning to come out, reminding us of yet another brilliant star-scape to come. Sleeping under the open sky is an unexpected pleasure, as awe-inspiring as the daylight hours. We all go to sleep glowing and contented with the experience of a more simplified way of being.