"Standing on Grand Canyon's North Rim on Friday, July 6 I observed the expansive, Nature-hewn rock cliffs before me. But I couldn't see the raucous Colorado River that roared through rapids along the Canyon floor. And I wanted to.
A couple happened by. "Do you know about rafting through the Canyon?" I asked. They did and recommended Arizona River Runners (ARR) but added, "They are probably full. Those trips fill up months in advance."
Not deterred, I drove from the rim in search of a cell phone signal that was not to be found. But a remote general store had WiFi and a pay phone. I used the WiFi to get online and obtain the ARR toll free number, and the pay phone to make the call.
They had one empty seat among a six-raft group. The price was reasonable. And I said, "Book me."
The next afternoon, I again observed the Canyon from its more popular South Rim. From one vantage points, I could see the Colorado River flowing through cleft cliffs below. I felt it drawing me. "I'm coming" I whispered.
For the next 6 days, I and 23 other guests and seven guides enjoyed floating the current and shooting the rapids. This was a non-motorized trip - much to my joy - and the guides, their long oars steadily in hand, did and excellent, skillful job of rowing us through deep whitewater troughs, fast paced flat water, whirlpools and eddies.
After 6 days on the upper half of the river, 15 of us hiked up --- 5,000 feet of elevation gain in eight miles - to the Canyon's South Rim as our replacement passengers hiked down. They and those who had signed up for the entire 13 day run would continue from there through the lower half.
Our time in the Canyon was awesome. Bitter cold water that chilled to the core. Strong winds that oscillated from "oven heat," warmed by the sun-soaked rock faces, to "refrigerator cool." Occasional sand beaches for lunches and camping with radiating rocks to dry wet clothing. Body surfing through small rapids on the beautiful turquoise-tinted Little Colorado River, a tributary to the Colorado River. Delightful overnight temperatures that precluded a tent. A few lizards here and there that might scurry across feet and legs. A dark sky dotted with millions of stars and the Milky Way, then a waning moon that rose after midnight. Caring, careful guides who rode/rowed the currents with ease and safety conscious determination then, amazingly prepared and served breakfast, lunch and dinner of eggs, pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage, cold cut sandwiches, fresh fruit, salmon, pork chops, chicken cordon bleu, steaks, potatoes, vegetables, salads, and baked desserts.
Best of all were the people from various parts of the United States, Germany, France, Switzerland, Brazil, China and Kenya; ages 18-64; singles, couples, families, friends; everyone mixing and mingling, riding with different guides and different boat mates each day, camping and conversing in different combinations, enriching each other's lives.
If you haven't done Grand Canyon yet, do so. Observe from the rim if you must. Ride the rapids if you can.
Your options include trips of 3-13 days, four person rafts with an oarsman, or larger rafts with two dozen people and a motor. There are several outfitters, but for my money, I'm glad I chose Arizona River Runners."
God Bless Everyone...no exceptions."
July 8 - 13, 2012
6 Day Oar River Rafting Adventure