Oh, my fellow Flâneurs, we cannot imagine a more mentally rejuvenating trip than the seven days we spent on the Colorado River this past May. Our entry began below Lake Powell and ended with a helicopter exit at the Bar 10 Ranch. While many have seen the vastness of the Grand Canyon, from either the south or north rims, fewer have ventured into the vastness on foot. We were among the even fewer who traveled the intimate stretch of the river itself.
The Grand Canyon? Intimate? Oh yes, so so intimate. There were 24 of us on two modified zodiacs who rode the worlds ultimate roller coaster. The key modification to our puffy transports was an additional inflated tube on each side, which served both as a footrest and a guarantee that this floating blimp would not be capsized. Oh, and for the smaller rapids, the outer balloon served as a bucking bronco!
Why so intimate? At the bottom of the vastness you see from the rim is the river itself, burrowed into the oldest layers of sedimentary rock. For much of the trip, “our canyon” consisted of a rim 500 to 600 feet above our heads. From this perspective, the vastness was beyond view. Ah, but the intimacy.
We traveled with two cousins, their spouses and another FOC “friend of cousins” accounting for 8 of the 24 travelers. Yet almost from the beginning, the boundaries between groups blurred into the morning mist. This kind of a spiritual journey brings people together.
A couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary along with their 3 sons. Two lifelong besties traveling with a third wheel husband. A brand new 40-something couple, on the second time around, who chose to make this their first “big trip” together. We slept under the early spring canopy of the Milky Way on cots with millions of stars our sleeping companions. And we bonded as no 24 odd strangers could, except for here in the very heart of the canyon… the soul of the earth. No wonder native Americans venerate this place above (below?) no other.
You want excitement? Most rapids are graded on a 5-point scale. Not here. Five points won’t do, they use a 10-point scale. And we blasted 2 10 pointers! Not to worry, if 20 foot plunges into 54 degree waters is too much, there is a safe seat back near the stern, where your guides lever their expert knowledge to deliver a safe trip. But if “front car” on the world’s greatest flume ride is where you want to be? Sit up front in “the bath tub.”
Aptly named, you cannot stay dry in this seat. A close second is the splash way to either side. Why would anyone subject themselves to plunges in the 54-degree waters? Simply because, you will never feel more ALIVE.
For many, this sense of aliveness will come from the astounding scenery, which can only be experienced deep within this subterranean cathedral.
For others, the aliveness derives from intimate hikes to the side canyons, where you may ride your flotation vest like a buoyant diaper.
Or as you stumble upon an impromptu concert in a sandstone grotto.
Is it glamping? Sorry, the word does not fit here. You will indeed dine like a king, amazed by prime rib and anniversary cakes that the guide/chefs deliver to your vast surprise. A biscuit the size of a truck tire, cooked in a charcoal fired clamshell. We ate it all.
We took only pictures and left only footprints. We smashed every can with a giant iron smasher. And we answered the question, “what is the blast radius of a full can of seltzer when faced with this amazing tool?” (Answer, precisely 32 feet.)