“The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.” – John Wesley Powell
In August, I was lucky enough to land a spot on a private rafting trip through the Colorado River. A private trip primarily requires a solid understanding of rafting, renting gear, and having a basic familiarity of the Colorado River – I had none of these things. But, I had friends who did. And many of these friends also happened to work for Moenkopi Riverworks – a rafting outfitter company based in Flagstaff, AZ. Like I said, I was lucky. But I also learned a lot on my first rafting trip that I wish I had known before I set out on this 10-day journey. Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind when planning a trip of your own:
1. Hydrating doesn’t just mean “Drink water!”
You will be exposed to the sun - a lot. This, mixed with constantly getting wet and drying over and over again, will leave you feeling like a dried-up raisin. Drinking plenty of water and bringing an extra moisturizing lotion will help your skin to feel smooth and healthy.
2. Make sure your stuff is sealed tight
While I wasn’t personally on a raft that flipped, my stuff was. Two times actually. Unfortunately, my dry bag wasn’t sealed tightly enough and I had to deal with soggy clothes throughout the trip. Getting a high-quality dry bag and understanding how to use it can save you a lot of grief.
3. Sun protection
Bring A LOT of sunscreen. This is extremely important. There were many people who ran out and were asking to borrow some from others toward the end of the trip. I was out there for 10-days and almost went through a full bottle (lotion, not spray) myself. Also, make sure to bring a hat, long-sleeve shirt, and even an umbrella.
4. Get a guidebook
There are so many books out there about the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. Learning about the history, environment, and cool places to stop and hike around will really enhance your trip.
Games are a great way to pass the time and wind down at the end of the day. Bocce ball and cards were some favorites for us.
6. You’re gonna get dirty
You are going to get a little gross being out on the river for days at a time. I rinsed off in the river with Dr. Bronner’s soap which helped a little, but all of the silt will still get on you and in your hair. Embrace the grime.
Like Powell said, time in the Grand Canyon is unparalleled and something difficult to communicate through words and pictures alone. Now that you have some insight into preparing for the trip, the next step is signing up and experiencing the wonders of river life yourself!
Photography by Rob Rosenberg
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