This is the second in a two-part series. If you missed Part 1, Click Here!
Day 5 Continued:
For those of you that read Part one, you may have noticed that I did not include details about dinner or happy hour from Day 5. It’s because we were having too much fun!! When we got to camp – an amazing spot up on cliff ledges – everyone went about setting up their campsites and bathing in the river.
While the others were preoccupied with preparing camp, I made margaritas!! I mixed them up in a huge 5-gallon water cooler… there was no shortage of drinks… and no shortage of fun. I’d say tonight definitely gave big gay cruises a run for their money.
Day 6 – Hangovers and Hiking
Today was the first day that anyone had a hangover…. Ughh… sugary drinks *shudder*. Everyone was really looking forward to coffee this morning. The rapids today were much less wild today, which we were all grateful for as I kept passing out water to keep everyone hydrated.
Our first stop of the day was Elves Chasm. It was a fairly simple hike up the hill, ending at a beautiful oasis. We climbed up behind the waterfall to a magical spot, where we lined up and jumped out into the water. This was David’s favorite activity. He went back again and again and even went for a final quickie jump. My favorite quote from the trip was “I love water. HE Travel has really won me over on this one. It’s like the most amazing waterpark you’ve ever seen!”
We made our way back to the boat and felt really bad for the folks who’d chosen to remain behind to nurse their hangovers. (Note to self: don’t be quite so generous with the margaritas next time!)
Our next stop was much more challenging. Our captain pulled over and let several of us off to take a grueling hike, while she motored on to our meeting spot downriver. Some guys, having been forewarned about the difficulty of the hike and/or having a fear of heights and ledges, remained on the boat for an easy cruise to our rendezvous point. Our swamper Will led the group while I picked up the rear…(stop thinking what you’re thinking!). It was a long, hot hike, but the views from the top of the cliffs were incredible. The ultimate payoff came when we arrived at a meandering creek that fed into a small waterfall and chilly pool in a gorgeous grotto.
We lounged and splashed and giggled and caught our breath before continuing down the cliff, where we discovered that our calm little creek had carved a curving canyon and could be heard roaring in the chasm. After we scrambled down to the beach, we came around the corner and looked high up the cliff to the place where our creek rocketed out of the canyon wall and fell with tremendous force into the pool on the beach. I went to take a closer look and Steve, who had draped himself in a cape, grabbed me to perform a canyon “baptismal” under the waterfall. You would not believe the force at which the water was coming down, I thought he might drown me!
On our way out, we helped another group move their boats, and were rewarded with a half dozen Diet Cokes. At this point in the trip Diet Coke had become such a precious commodity that each can had to be kept under guard so that we wouldn’t have hoarding issues… I never realized how important Diet Coke is to people… maybe it’s addictive.
Day 7 – Exquisite Canyons
We started off with a nice lazy morning, but our captain Jalynda promised us a special lunch destination at a place called Matkatambia Canyon or Mat Cat. It took some amazing maneuvering, but she managed to wedge our large boat into a tiny little canyon entrance right before a huge set of raging rapids. We tied off and went around the bend to set up lunch.
We heard some commotion outside the entrance to the canyon and found a group of private boaters tying their boats to ours. This was a dangerous situation. We were tied to rockclimbing cams and the group could easily have knocked our boat loose, leaving our group stranded. It would also prevent us from leaving when we were ready. It resulted in a big argument which left the other group with bruised egos, but safety is always the most important issue at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
After lunch we made our way up the most beautiful canyon of the entire trip. We spent a long lazy afternoon at the top of the canyon, then had the most incredible adventure, climbing our way down the slots that so few people ever see. The little canyon is home to beautiful endangered frogs, and looks like something from an alien planet.
Our second stop today was Havasu Creek, flowing with beautiful blue-green water. We played in the water for hours, body-sliding and cliff diving. Will and Jalynda brought water guns and we had so much fun. Mostly spraying Robert… who deserved it, for starting the water fight.
As soon as the next group showed up, we wrapped it up and started moving on to our next location. We traded with them and got a few more Diet Cokes in exchange for a bag of ice. One of our guys said he thought we got a good deal, 3 Diet Cokes for one bag of ice. Will pointed out that in the canyon, ice is worth its weight in gold. We just paid 10 pounds of gold for 3 measly Diet Cokes… addictive stuff Diet Coke.
We all napped on the deck for a bit, then tried playing cards. Eventually we landed at National Canyon and saw the destruction caused by last year’s flash flooding. I found a stick shaped like a golf club and got an idea to create a mini-golf course. We collected small round rocks and dug holes. We made flags from sticks and attached underwear to the tops. It was a lot of fun, but boy was it hot today!
We made our way up the rubble to what was left of a slot canyon that was once very similar to Mat Cat Canyon. We swam around in the pools, and then Robert and I got more adventurous and hiked up farther. We had to do some serious wall crawling and climbing, which I haven’t been able to do since moving to flat Florida, but it was an exhilarating experience!
Day 8 – Last of the Big Rapids
Today we rafted Lava Falls, considered one of the trickiest and scariest of all the rapids in the Grand Canyon. We stopped several hundred yards upstream and hiked to where we got a good vantage point of the wild ride that awaited us.
Everyone was super excited for this one, but it was a smooth, uneventful ride. Jaylynda did everything right, and no-one was thrown from the boat. Believe it or not… this upset a few people, who wanted a wild scary adventure to top off the trip. In the end we all got to go for a swim anyway when we went cliff-diving to beat the heat.
Day 9 Exit Day
No-one wants such an amazing adventure to come to an end, but they always do. This was our last morning on the river. All the big rapids were gone, as we entered the calm waters of Lake Mead, making our way to the jet boat that would take us out of the canyon.
But just as we were being lulled into complacency, all of a sudden the sky opened up and we experienced a torrential downpour. About twenty minutes after the rain stopped, we witnessed one of the most amazing natural phenomena I’ve ever seen: the rare spontaneous rimfall: waterfalls that form and pour over the lip of the canyon during extreme rainstorms. There were hundreds of ephemeral waterfalls draining into the Colorado River, and even our guide Will was grinning from this opportunity to see them. What a gorgeous way to send off an amazing trip!
Day 10 Farewell to friends…but more adventures for me!
As part of my research into outdoor activities that our Grand Canyon travelers might try before or after our rafting trip, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority invited me to try a zip-line adventure in the desert mountains outside the city. … Just when I thought my trip couldn’t get any better! This is the most amazing zip-line course I’ve ever been on. It was thrilling to careen down a mountainside at 60 mph, with breathtaking views of the valley below. We are making this an optional activity on next year’s tour!
Viva Las Vegas!
To read more about our Splash! Grand Canyon rafting tour Click Here!