I’m Jessica. I’m new to the Hatch River Expeditions team, and I just completed my first ever trip white water rafting in the Grand Canyon. Now, I find myself in the unique position of being able to tell you not only what a trip can be like, but what it’s like traveling 188 miles down the Colorado River as the most famous canyon in the world rises up and changes around you for the very first time. Over the next few weeks, I’ll tell you exactly what my trip was like, rapid by rapid.



In the morning we hike. We trudge through the sand, ducking tree branches, like ducklings behind our trip leader JP. In flip flops, he makes his way up the talus slope’s rocky trail at a pace most of us can barely keep in tennis shoes. One of our youngest who forgot her water bottle squawks, birdlike, for her mother to slow down. Although we know her father is coming with water for them both, each adult near this young hiker offers her sips from their water bottles. It’s the beginning of our third day, and we’ve all become mother birds, keeping watchful eyes on the little ones.

We reach our destination, the Nankoweap Granaries, and marvel at the age of the structures we’re now in proximity to and the view down the deepening chasm we’re traveling. Our swamper, Zach, tells me this is his favorite view of the canyon. From here, you can see the Colorado River winding for miles, the layers of rock stacked on top of one another in a corridor unmatched for the awe it inspires.

Colorado River from Nankoweap Granaries

After the hike, we get to putting some river behind us. JP has tempted us with the prospect of swimming in the Little Colorado River if it’s clear, so we anxiously keep our eyes open for the confluence and what it will bring. The LCR is so unassuming, one could almost boat past it without realizing what they were looking at. They would know soon enough, though, as our group found out when the entire river started to look like coffee with too much cream—the color of not playing in the Little Colorado today. It’s here, Rachel explains, that some developers want to put a tram from the rim to the base of the canyon. Fewer than 1% of the canyon’s visitors see it from below the rim, so it’s easy to see why someone with the means would like to cash in on the opportunity. Our group agrees that the view would not have the same impact without the preceding journey to give it context.

With the Little Colorado a bust, we’ve a ways to go before our next opportunity for water play. In the meantime, we hit rapids—Tanner, Unkar, Nevills. After Hance Rapid, our largest thus far, the canyon walls change. Where we had been watching layers of marine sediment pass by now metamorphics appear. Dark, twisted Vishnu Schist rises up, permeated by the pink Zoroaster Granite that squeezed its semi-molten way into all the weak spots between. My first thought is that these rocks are beautiful and rich and I want nothing more to climb them. My second is to wonder about the person who named them, and why, in the southwestern United States, two Asian religious figures fight for dominance in the middle of a canyon.

Before the day is through, I get my wish to climb. Our last big excursion takes us over a ridge of schist and up the trickling Clear Creek bed to waterfalls that our group likens to back massagers. Refreshed, we find a home for the night just upstream from Phantom Ranch. The guitars one of our guests brought special are pulled from their cases, and our night closes with music rising up between the canyon walls.


Did you take your first Grand Canyon rafting trip with Hatch? How about your latest? Your best? Tell us about it.

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Rapid by Rapid: A Hatch staffer’s first experience with white water rafting in the Grand Canyon (Part 3 – Hance) was last modified: August 17th, 2015 by Jessica Clark

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