Thursday, October 23, 2014

Upper Canyon :: 1st Day Impressions

It's taken me longer than anticipated to sort through all the photos and gather my thoughts in regard to this experience. I'm still trying to decide how it all should be presented. And, I also took a week "off" to clear out my storage unit. After 5 years and 2 1/2 months, it is finally emptied. Everything that was there has either been donated or otherwise disposed of... including about 25-30 boxes of books!

The middle of next month I'll be going down to Terre Haute where I'll make a donation of my photography books as well as my cameras and lenses to the photography department of Indiana State University. I was surprised to learn that they still use film and develop and print "the old fashioned way." It will be fun to see my professor again. (She is in her 40th year of teaching at ISU!) Anyway, here is the first installment of the "Grand" Adventure. (As always, click on an image to view a larger version). Enjoy!

Whenever you actually "do" something that has been something you've wanted to do for a very long time, you wonder about things and have expectations.

What would it really be like to spend 15 days rafting through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River?

I expected to have a great time, no matter what happened... I did. Oh, yeah. It was the most amazing experience I've ever had. On so many levels.

I wondered if 15 days might be too long of a time to spend on The River... It wasn't. In fact I wish it could have gone on for another 15 days. Time passed way too quickly. The cares of the "outside" world faded rapidly. All that mattered was being there, in that place at that time.

I expected times of discomfort... there were, but nothing major. I was actually surprised at how easily I adapted to the conditions. The sand. Being wet much of the time. No showers. The sand. Bathing in muddy, gritty waters. Sleeping on the ground (albeit with a tarp, a nice soft pad and a sleeping bag) for 14 nights amongst a bunch of strangers. Lack of privacy. The wind. The rain. The sand. All just a part of the entire experience.

I wondered what the rapids would be like... would they be scary, would they be fun, would they be exciting... would I be disappointed if they weren't? There are about 70 rapids in the 240 mile stretch of the Colorado River that we traversed. Some were small, some were big. Some were like roller coasters, some really packed a wallop. Some we made it through without getting wet. Some soaked us completely and filled the raft with water. All of them were fun, some more exciting than others... but all were fun.

I expected that the hikes would be strenuous, after all about the only way to go was up (and of course, you had to get back down to the river)... they were. I started out on a few of them but didn't get far. The pace was too fast for me and the terrain was difficult at best. My legs just didn't want to work. Yes, I was disappointed to some extent, but not enough that it dampened my spirits. The side benefit of not doing the longer hikes was that I had some alone time in some really beautiful settings.

I hoped that our fellow travelers would be easy to get along with and fun to be with... they were. The guides really knew what they were doing, after all, it was their job! They were friendly and helpful, explaining things as we needed to know them.  They were a fantastic group as were the other "guests" on this adventure. As we swapped rafts and rode with different guides and guests we got to know a little more about each other. We came from all walks of life to experience this Grand Adventure together. And it was, indeed, a Grand Adventure.

On the bank of the river are rafts from several private groups whom we played leap frog with as we all traveled down the river.

Paria Riffle, where the Paria River joins the Colorado a short distance from Lee's Ferry, was the first "rough" water we encountered.

I was fascinated with how the river changed color depending upon whether we were in shade or sun, whether going into the sun or away from it, and how the surrounding cliffs were reflected in the water. Above, the "true" color of the river is hidden in the deep blue shadows.

The river was actually an emerald green color, clear and sparkling. At least for the first few days.

The "openness" of the the terrain at Lee's Ferry soon gave way to towering cliffs.

We passed beneath the twin Navajo Bridges, the closest one for pedestrians and the latter for vehicles.

The River has many twists and turns on it's 240 mile journey through Grand Canyon. Rafts are dwarfed by the towering cliffs. The smooth water conceals the fact that rapids are just ahead, rapids that you hear long before you see them.

Soap Creek Rapid at mile 11.5

Several stops were made along the way... for lunch and for a couple of short hikes.

The Canyon walls changed with every bend of the river.

The wind, the rain, and the river all play a part in sculpting the nooks and crannies of the canyon.

Shadows and sun, coolness and warmth. Both would be with us as we journeyed through the canyon.

Nearing the end of the first day.
All photos in this post were taken on September 17, 2014.

You might also want to follow along with Sue and Fred Elliott...
      Lees Ferry–The Beginning of a Journey posted October 23, 2014
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Note: The page Grand Canyon Raft Trip lists all of my posts published about this Grand Adventure!

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "Upper Canyon :: 1st Day Impressions," Kinexxions, posted October 23, 2014 ( : accessed [access date])


Charlie said...

Awesonw Becky, I rafted the upper Colorado behind Arches many time. You had quite an adventure and some awesome photos. Looking forward to the "Rest of the Story....

Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana said...

Becky, I'm so very glad that you had the opportunity to have this experience. Your zest for life, and eye for capturing it on film, are an inspiration!!

Becky Wiseman said...

Thanks for stopping by Charlie. Yes, it really was an awesome adventure!

Becky Wiseman said...

Thank you, Laura. I'm also very glad to have had this experience ;-) but Mother Nature deserves a lot of credit for the photos!

Michelle Goodrum said...

Spectacular! I' looking forward to enjoying the rest of this series. It's already making me rethink my bucket list.

Becky Wiseman said...

Michelle, I hope that you (or anyone else thinking about it) are able to do it someday. It is a magnificent adventure!