Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Grand Canyon Rafting Trip - In the Canyon Part 6

Camping On the River

I'm not much of a camper anymore so I wasn't really looking forward to the camping aspect of the trip, but it turned out to have more pros than cons and I ended up enjoying the experience.

The morning we started our trip we were issued a large waterproof equipment bag.  In it was a sleeping bag, a sheet and a tarp.  We loaded our own duffel bag into that bag and that was stored on the raft until we made camp at night.  Every morning it was loaded back on and stored away.  We were also issued a smaller dry bag that we kept with us for things we might need during the day.

On to camping; when we stopped for the night, the first thing we did was pick out a campsite and mark it with our life jacket or dry bag.  Then after we unloaded the raft, we grabbed a couple of cots, a chair or two and our equipment bags and went to set up our camp.  There were tents available, but most of us chose to sleep under the stars as it was usually pretty warm.  So we get our cots set up, lay out our sleeping bags and then have our nightly bath in the cold waters of the Colorado River.  You heard lots of screams as people washed and rinsed, the water really was cold.

Val trying to get the days grime cleaned off.

It felt good to get semi clean and get into some dry clothes.  Over the course of the trip, all of our clothes got pretty dirty and didn't smell very good either, but everyone else was in the same boat (so to speak) so it didn't really matter.  There wasn't much privacy so you just made do, and by the end of the trip you sometimes just said to hell with it and did what you had to do.

By the time we were washed and settled, it was time for hors d'ouevres and dinner and this was probably the best part of the evening for me.  Not just because of the food, but just having the whole group together.  We started out as strangers on the first night, but by the last night we were all friends.  The guides played a large part in this, they didn't force things, they just got everyone together and we all kind of bonded.  One night dinner was running late so one of the ladies started leading the group in a song, making up lyrics to taunt the guides.  They acted indifferent, but you could tell they were enjoying it.  Finally it culminated in Lucky mooning the whole group which brought down the house.  Kind of juvenile yes, but under the circumstances a lot of fun and it really did bring the group together.

Mid way through the trip as we got to camp it was announced that there would be a party that night and everyone should dress as crazy as they could.  Being me, I thought Oh No, not this, but I went along with it and it was great fun.  Again, the guides played it just right, they dressed up themselves to get things going, but there was no comments or pressure on the people who didn't participate and in the end almost everyone dressed up some way and had a good time.  What people wore varied quite a bit as you have a limited amount of things to choose from in your small wardrobe, but the guides had some props and some of the group was very imaginative.  I didn't take many pictures of the camps, but I did take some of the group that night.

Guides Scott and Kelly

Guide Justin
Guide Lucky
Here are some pictures of us and our fellow rafters.  I feel really bad about it, but I am so bad with names, I have already forgotten most of them.

Val and Patrice and one of the "Griswald" family

Dave and Patrice

Dinner is almost ready.
Just before dinner.
On the last night of the trip it was announced that since it was the last night, dinner would be formal and all the gentlemen should where ties and the ladies dresses.  What a collection of weird ties and bed sheet dresses, again a lot of fun.

One night after dinner, the guides offered a hike to the top of a ridge to watch the moon rise and a small group took them up on their offer.  It was dark and everyone was wearing headlamps so it presented a weird sight to see these bobbing lights in a line going up the canyon and then across the the ridge with the night sky behind them.  It was very eerie and medieval looking like some kind of ceremony.

I don't believe we ever slept in our sleeping bags, it was either under the sheet or just laying there with no cover as it was usually quite warm.  There were no stars early in the night as it was a full moon and it was rising early, but by the late night after the moon had set, the stars were quite spectacular.

It was the monsoon season in the Southwest so there was always a chance of rain or thunderstorms.  We were quite lucky not to get much rain, but we did get rained on twice.  The first time it rained was the middle of the night.  I woke up feeling drops drops and quickly jumped up and started putting our duffel bags in the large dry bags.  Then I got our tarps out and covered Val and I and we lay under them for an hour or so as it rained on and off.  By morning it was all gone and for the most part we were all dried out.  To be honest, being wet is not big deal as it seems you are wet to some degree most of the time.  They suggest wearing quick dry clothing and there is a definite reason for that.  The other time it rained was just after we had set up camp one night.  Luckily Dave, Patrice, Val and I had decided to put up a tent that night as there was very little area to camp so everyone was crowded together and we wanted a place to change cloths with some privacy.  As the skies darkened we got everything in the tent for protection and then it came down pretty hard for a while.  We were right up against a canyon wall so we stood right against it and the overhang kept us mostly dry.  It probably didn't last more than half an hour and then blew out and we had a beautiful clear night.

Here are a couple of pictures from our last campsite which I thought was the best.  It was large, had a nice sandy beach and flat.  Several of the sites we stayed at were rocky and cramped, but obviously you have to take what's there.

In conclusion, I would say there was a bit of discomfort and getting into a hot shower and a real bed felt really good after the trip, but the camping added to the enjoyment of the trip which made it worthwhile.  I can't say that it made me want to go out and start camping again though.

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