A Grand Adventure Was Had By All.

Toroweap_Colorado River

 WOW! We had so much fun on our GC trip September 9-22! We had 16 kayakers and 3 raft riders, plus Phil’s 2 bros joined on river boards!! It was a hoot! Our adventure started with picking up our good friend from Ecuador, Jaime Dalgo, who was just coming off a Tuolumne trip near Yosemite.  If you’ve paddled with us in Ecuador in recent years there is a good chance you’ve met Jaime as he works with us on our trips there. See more photos from our trip here.

Jaime somewhere on the extraterrestrial highway.

Wanting to show Jaime as much as we could on our way to the put in for the Grand we drove to Tenaya Lake in Tuolumne Meadows in time to cook up a quick dinner at lake’s edge while watching the sun set on the surrounding domes and peaks.  From there it was a night under the stars near Mono Lake before driving East the following day to Zion National Park.  The next morning Jaime and Phil got in a quick dash up the Virgin River Narrows in the park before we had to leave to meet the raft guides at the warehouse in Arizona to prep the trip.

On the 8th, six of us left the warehouse and drove to Lees Ferry where we dropped the two big rafts that would carry all of our stuff for the next fourteen days into the river, finished rigging them, then headed up to Marble Canyon Lodge to meet with the group.

At 8:00 a.m. on the 9th we all drove the fifteen minutes to the boat ramp at Lees Ferry and the start of our trip.

The first 8 days gave us rain off and on assuring that the Colorado River would live up to it’s Spanish name (red). At the confluence with the Little Colorado, 60 miles down from the put in, there was no white in the whitewater! The waves looked like crashing piles of mocha pudding. Amazingly it never rained on breakfast and dinners, so it wasn’t bad. Our tents had time to dry out in camp before the next shower. And we got lightening, and thunder that reverberated down the inner gorge!, stunning light shows with sun on cliff and clouds and water! Our flow this year was a constant 16,000cfs plus, that’s twice what we had the same time last year. Combine that with all the runoff from the rain and Hermit rapid was as big as I’ve ever seen it! What a rush and what fun!

Bryan L. ignores the easy line and goes for the gusto on Horn Creek.

We did all the classic Grand Canyon hikes and then some! North Canyon, Nautiloid, Nankoweap, Hilltop ruins and overlook at Unkar, Carbon-Lava Chuar up and over, Surprise Valley (Thunder river to Deer Creek), Havasu, Matkat, Shinumu, Elves, Blacktail, and others. We saw petroglyphs, pictographs, granaries, fossils, ruins, fern grottos, big horn sheep and mind blowing geology.

Hiker, Blacktail Canyon
Jeff D. using the layering system, Blacktail Canyon.

For the second half of the trip clouds gave way to sun and we soaked up it’s warmth- sometimes causing us to seek the cool of the shade.  The newly washed sky and diminishing moon light made the stars shine bright at night- what brilliant stars there are.


All too quickly the 14 days flew by and another river family parted ways. We said goodbye to the group and to Jaime who would fly home to Ecuador in less than a weeks time.

Raft_violin_Grand Canyon
Kyle Hooker gives a solo performance in the Grand Canyon concert hall.

After breaking down the trip Phil and I drove out to Toroweap on the North Rim, a 60 mile drive on dirt and ROUGH road in our van. We had a couple offers from doubtful jeepers we met to tow us if we needed one (we didn’t)! Toroweap looks directly down on the river and Vulcan’s Anvil, one mile up from Lava. Phil had a heyday taking photographs of the amazing views, we were there for 2 cycles sunset and sunrises.

We used binocs to watch the groups on the river below scout and run Lava! One group, made up of inflatable kayaks, might have well just jumped in after their duckies and swum from the top! Altho there was good support, a group of 9 duckies all swam out the bottom. A few got through the V-wave only to get clobbered by the Kahuna. Most bit it at the V-wave.

Here are our runs at Lava when we were there with our group 4 days earlier (Courtesy of Steph L.).

Here are some additonal trip photos courtesy of Len G. from our trip.

After Toroweap we stopped to see Horseshoe bend, where the Colorado River takes a 270 degree bend 3 miles down from Glen Canyon dam. It was strange to see the Colorado all green and clear.

Horseshoe Bend_Colorado_River
The Colorado River has cut a huge oxbow through the rock at Horseshoe Bend.

We took the most beautiful, leisure route home. It’s nice to be home now and we are enjoying our mild California fall weather and the rain! Phil just cleaned our wood stove and there’s a fire now. On Nov 3rd Phil leaves for Bhutan. I am home until we leave for Ecuador Dec 8.

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