By Jim Hill, September 16, 2016
I feel like Lana Turner must have felt when she was discovered while sipping Coke on Sunset Boulevard. But unlike that, I was just walking my dogs around the neighborhood when out of nowhere I was being offered the chance to host a river trip! And this wasn’t just any river trip, this was a 7-night motorized trip through the Grand Canyon! And more, it was a trip with HE Travel!
I’ve been counting blessings ever since. I got the position with 13 fellow rafters beaming with great attitudes. We ended up having a fun, challenging, beautiful, breathtaking and unforgettable river trip together. With cheer, patience, and positive vibrations, these beautiful men supported me as host and made me feel good.
Looking exceptionally well was our Swamper, Kyle, who everyone had a crush on. Captain Bobby took us through rapids and places that are indescribable. Because our invincible raft was motorized, we plowed through the deepest and steepest rapids possible that smaller crafts wouldn’t dare to venture. Plan on getting wet, but that’s just half the fun of it. You won’t be drenched for long as the desert sun quickly dries you off— just in time to get doused by another rapid.
The landscapes were incredible, the waterfalls that we bathed under were awe-inspiring, the hikes we took were more than memorable and their destinations always well-worth the venture. Our Captain and Swamper kept us entertained and well-informed about the history of the canyon, its first real explorer, John Wesley Powell, and its geologic diversities going back hundreds of millions of years. We explored Anasazi granaries, viewed pottery shards from the past, built a butt dam (you had to be there), cliff jumped, formed an 8-man chain to float down the Little Colorado, and ate better than I have ever eaten at home.
Camping out for 7 nights was a bit of a challenge, but roughing it was made easier by the beautiful sites we stayed at. The cots, air pads, sleeping bags, tents and folding chairs that were provided also helped to take the rough edge off. Pre-and post-dinner drinks added to the festivities as did the exceptional food.
The Universe was really looking out for me when it provided among the rafters, Rob, who became an immediate friend and confidante and who was named, “Miss Congeniality”; Ed and Lee, two men who had done the trip before and provided me with great support and advice; Andrew, a doctor, who advised us about feared maladies, and Garrison, an expert caterer whose knowledge about food helped provide a wonderful assortment of appetizers for our final night’s celebration in Vegas. Also impossible to forget were quiet but brilliant, Michael W.; outgoing and energetic hiker, Mike M.; thoughtful and caring, Joe; young and fun, Ari, and loving and kind friends, Martin, Lachlan, Bob and Scott.
Since arriving home a week ago, I’m often asked if I would do the river trip again. The answer is a resounding, yes! I couldn’t speak more highly of the trip that HE Travel put together and of Grand Canyon Expeditions, their expert outfitter that provided a safe, exhilarating and unforgettable trip. Thanks to all!
*Photo courtesy of Scott Tilly, 2014