Living The Dream, Day 3 – Swinging a Cat in the Redwall Limestone

Departing South Canyon, our guides deftly maneuver the rafts ever-so-carefully backwards, away from the beach and into the main channel. We happily avoid crashing into and sinking the flotilla of dainty dories that has stealthily crept up behind us. We cheer, wave, and point our behemoth boats downstream, leaving the dory riders to make their own discoveries amid the South Canyon ruins. It is mid-morning of our first full day rafting on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. I am beside myself with enthusiasm, thrilled that there is room on the raft for both of me.

Dories incoming! (click on any pix to enlargenate

I awaken slowly in the spring dawn and stretch inside my sleeping bag, feeling stiff and brittle as a sun-bleached boat paddle. Footsteps crunch gently across the sandy beach. Softly muffled chatter grows louder, pots and pans clang more frequently as our guides begin breakfast preparations at their lavish camp kitchen. It is time to extricate myself from my ground-dwelling nest. The coffee gong sounds brash and heavenly. It is the morning of our first full day on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon; on hands and knees I crawl out of my already sandy tent and shake myself awake, keen to continue the adventure. Just throw me in the river and I will limber up in no time.
The cowboy coffee is perfect, nearly strong enough to stand a spoon upright in the middle of my cup. Breakfast is hot and plentiful, and apparently we have choices.
Guide in gaudy flowered apron: How would you like your eggs?
Me: How about eggs Benedict?
Guide: Scrambled it is!

Packing the j-rigs
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Over hundreds of millions of years, the seas came in and the seas went out, covering and then exposing the changing landscape of western North America. Sediments were deposited, uplifted, and eroded in the eternal cycles of geologic time. The vertical cliffs and tumbling slopes of Grand Canyon expose the most complete stratigraphic record of Earth’s geologic history, a record more extensive than anywhere else on the planet. I have wanted to see these rocks from a raft on the Colorado River for as long as I can remember. I am finally living my dream.

Pointing at Rocks
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We are up at 5am in the northern Arizona spring dawn, knocking back styro-cups of bad hotel room coffee and microwavedly weak tea. Kris takes off out the door for a pre-float jog. I stand in the middle of the room, bewildered, alternately stuffing stuff into or pulling stuff out of my dry bags (How many field guides do I really need?). Binoculars could come in handy, though, so back in they go (Damn, those little rascals are heavy). Kris returns refreshed. We eventually manage to drag our bags down the hall, into the elevator, and out into the lobby by the appointed 6am time, along with 21 other people of our ilk who have gone through pretty much the same ordeal. Kris stores her remaining valuables in a storage room locked until our return. I throw all leftover field guides into the back of my car and lock it, hoping it will be there when I return. After checking out of our rooms we are herded, along with 69 dry bags of assorted weightiness, into the latest reincarnation of an old school bus, upon whose seats we are soon swaying seatbelt-free and gleeful along a downtown stretch of Route 66.  We turn north onto highway 89 and are on our way out of Flagstaff toward Lee’s Ferry, our put-in point.

Putting in at Lee’s Ferry
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