Hunter from the Next Adventure Paddle Sports Center set out on an epic adventure through the Grand Canyon by raft. He came back with a ton of amazing photographs and stories to match.
-Hey, my name's Hunter. I'm here at Next Adventure.
I just got back from an incredible trip down the Grand Canyon, floating down the Colorado River with a bunch of rafts. We get people coming into the Paddle Center almost every day asking about long river trips and expeditions. At least once a week somebody comes in asking about a Grand Canyon trip and they're excited to get on it. I'd like to share a little bit about what that's like and what we can do to help you.
The Grand Canyon is pretty much THE monumental river trip for anybody that has been rafting or kayaking or into water adventures. 29,000 people get to float down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon every year. There's a huge lottery that people submit to in order to get a permit for the trip. Upwards of a million people apply and there are only 29,000 spots and about 10,000 of those are taken up by commercial trips.
It's split up into two seasons, there is the winter season and then you've got the summer season. During the summer you have a lot of daylight hours and you can make the canyon happen in like 14 to 16 days. For my trip, we started in February. We had 26 days on the winter permit. It was a private trip with fourteen of us. We were outfitted with rafts and kitchen gear and groover setup and all of our food. We had a company take care of all that for us and we just met them at the put-in.
We had six boats. I was one of the guides and there were five other guys that had experience guiding boats, but only one of the six of us had ever been down the Grand Canyon before. We were kind of just figuring it out through the guidebook every day. As a team, this kind of expedition must happen with everybody pulling together - everybody working to keep things moving and keep everything working efficiently.
We split up into four groups and each group had a task for the day that we rotated through. Kitchen duty, cleanup duty, fire duty, and one or two people every day were tasked to set up the groover. (the toilet station) and it would just kind of rotate through everybody was able to make it happen.
This was a unique trip for me. We got every type of weather, day one was 75 degrees and sunny, day two we woke up and it was cloudy, and an hour after we left camp we were making our way through a brutal blizzard - you know, wind's blowing 45 miles an hour, snow coming down on us. It was almost like a whiteout and we're on the river in rafts watching it all happen. There's not really anything you can do about it except for keep paddling and stay warm.
We had a raft flip and it was snowing again. It took 12 of us to flip the raft back over on the sixth or seventh try. It was really difficult, those are really heavy boats. They're 18-foot boats with almost 1000 pounds of weight in them. But we were able to get it flipped back over. We finished the rest of the day cleanly. By the time we were in camp, it was nice, it had warmed up a little bit. It was not snowing, and we were able to dry out all the gear. You know, you're in the desert, so the nice thing is that when gear does get wet you're able to dry them out within 24 hours or so. After that, it really lightened up and by March first, it was spring weather. We were getting 70-degree days, 45-degrees at night and it was really comfortable and nice.
We got to do a bunch of incredible hikes. On one of my favorites, we scrambled up what appeared to be lava cliff rock. We were able to reach up to the highest level of the plateau above our camp. Not all the way to the actual rim of the canyon, but high enough to look across and feel like we were level with the rim. We had been enclosed in the walls for 20 days, only hitting like four to five hours of sunlight as the Sun came over the canyon walls. That was eerie at times. It's astonishing how thick the walls are there, and you know how deep you are.
This was a very significant expedition, but if you're doing a three-day trip, five-day trip, ten-day trip, come on in. We've got suggestions for you. We've got the right gear for you to buy and we can we can get you set up and ready to roll.