June 2, 2009

down the colorado into the canyon

For three days we had a great raft trip with Wilderness River Adventures. The trip was amazing! For three days we saw the Grand Canyon in a way that few are lucky enough to see, from the bottom up. As we rafted along we literally saw the history of the world from today to 2 billion years ago. The beauty of this place is just awe inspiring.

We began our trip at Lee’s Ferry, just south of Page Arizona and ended up at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We shared the trip with another small group (Rocky, Joe, and Denise) and one large group from Lafayette College.

The Lafeyette group really made the trip for us. The group of Geology students was led by Dr. Larry Malinconico (Dr. M) and Dr. Dave Sunderlin. In my slightly biased opinion I thought that Luther students were the friendliest students anywhere. The group from Lafeyette taught me that there are other colleges with really great students. Not only did we learn a lot from lurking in the back of the impromptu lectures but we had a great time getting to know them all.

Here are a couple of examples of how beautiful the canyon is. Here we are in calm water:


Here was one of our short day hikes. You can see our rafts to the right.


Of course no rafting trip would be complete without the opportunity to get wet, which we are about to do here:


And no trip report from me would be complete without a review of the food. In a word, awesome. Here are the two swampers (Kari and Everett) preparing our last dinner. Spaghetti and meatballs, or Alfredo Sauce. We had Salmon and rice one night, grilled New York Strips and Baby Red Potatoes another night. It was all “good eats”.


The leaders of the trip were Richard and Matt. Two excellent raft drivers. Not sure what the proper term is for the captain of a giant rubber raft. But they got us safely through some really “fun” rapids. At one point the Miller family did experience a collective flashback to being stranded in the Everglades when our raft got hung up on Whale Rock. This was right in the middle of the biggest rapids of the trip and we were just starting to wonder how we were going to get rescued when the raft freed itself and we were on our way.

The sleeping accomodations were better than expected by my standards. For three nights we just slept on our mats under the stars. No tents, just sleeping bags, tarps and mats. It was great. Since Arizona does not observe daylight savings time, it was dark by 8:30PM and light by 5:00 AM. So it was an early to bed early to rise kind of trip. One night I woke up at midnight and got out the camera. This picture doesn’t really do justice to the beauty of the night sky in Arizona but it gives you some idea of what we saw from our sleeping bags:


The last day of our trip we got up at 4:30AM and went about half a mile downstream to Phantom Ranch. From there we hiked 10 miles linearly and 1 mile vertically to get out of the Grand Canyon. I’ll cover that experience in another post.