We at Hatch want to share your “Stories from the River” on our website. Tell us about your trip, or even just a memorable experience from it–email your story to info@hatchriverexpeditions.com for a chance to be featured here on our blog. Below is our first guest submission! (Barrett had so much great stuff to say that we’re splitting his story into two posts!)

Grand Canyon Adventures (Part 1)
By Larry Barrett

Date: July 30, 2015

In a word, the trip was exhilarating. In two words, apprehension, relief. In other words, wah hoo, bring it on.

The adventure started Sunday about 10 am July 5 with the put in at Lee’s Ferry with two motorized rafts. The excitement concluded seven days later on Saturday about 7 am by being flown out by helicopter from a sand bar at Whitmore Wash on the Colorado River to the rim 5,000 feet above us and Bar 10 Ranch.

Joining me were son Curtis, who drove in from Los Angeles; plus my college roommate Ron from Chicago and his daughter Elizabeth from Washington DC. Ron and I at 72 were the oldest on the trip. Mike from Tempe turned 70 on the last day of the trip for his fourth time rafting down the Colorado. He was joined by his wife Cathy and 15 year old granddaughter Maggie, who taught us something about her favorite subject, geology.

Of the 29 rafters on two big boats, most of the others on the trip were from a Kansas City ski club. A significant minority of them had been on earlier trips, always with Hatch outfitters. Most were with a spouse or son or daughter. The youngest was Savannah at 9 years, whose father Jeff had trained at and later consulted in Colorado Springs here at the Olympic Training Center. About 1/3 were women, including the leader, Nancy, of the Kansas City contingent.

By the end of the trip we are all good friends, even family. The Kansas group kept everyone laughing and enjoying the experience. Being together day after day and getting along so well was one of the highlights of the trip. In fact, driving home felt lonely for the first few hours, after the continuous comradery of the week.

Each 35 x 16 foot raft carried 16 people, including the rafting guide plus an assistant guide on our trip. Parke was the guide on raft #9 and the most experienced. His raft always led the way through the rapids. Our raft #10 was guided by Tanner and partner Lena, who maneuvered the raft through some of the biggest rapids. All performed liked seasoned veterans even though they seemed were about 30.

The guides work nearly every week from May to September. In the off season, Parke was a nurse in Flagstaff, while Tanner and Lena served on ski patrol at Wolf Creek ski area. The job of raft guide is demanding on an off the river and much appreciated by all.

Each evening about 5 pm the guides would find a sand bar on the side of the river for camping. The rafters helped unload the tents, cots, folding chairs, kitchen equipment, food, and especially beer. While the rafters set up the camp the guides prepared appetizers followed by delicious meals featuring steak, chicken, tuna, pork and a Mexican feast. Lena was particularly adept with a Dutch oven, made the best brownies ever, and a cake to celebrate Mike’s birthday. After a filling meal, there was time for talk, stories, histories, hopes and dreams. Plus horseshoes.

The last four nights were spent with most of the rafters sleeping outside the tents in sleeping bags on the cots. In fact, the last two nights no tents were put up under the clear skies, and only a sheet was needed given the warmth from the sand and canyon walls. Hatch provided all gear including sleeping bags, cots, sheets, and tents. They also provided "dry bags" which held our change of clothes, toiletries, sandals, and not much more. Most of us did not change clothes during the trip, as was evident by the end, when fresh ones appeared.

Photo Credit: Rob Montgomery

Photo Credit: Rob Montgomery

Curtis claimed one of the highlights for him was sleeping under the stars. The nights were spectacular with more stars than I had ever seen before thanks to the remote location of the Grand Canyon and lack of ambient lighting from towns and cities and the high elevation at several thousand feet. Waking up in the middle of the night was such a pleasure as one watched the stars before falling asleep again, including seeing an occasional shooting star.

We experienced a few rain storms the first three evenings. But they never interrupted the high spirits and good food, in part due to kitchen tents erected in the camp.

Breakfast featured cold and hot food by 7 am, including eggs however you liked them, plus hash browns, sausage, pancakes, and fruit. Lunch about noon was wherever we pulled over to a sandbar and set up a small kitchen area for cold cuts, cookies, and juice. Many commented on how their diet plans were put on hold.

In the morning, we loaded the rafts, secured everything under water repellent tarps, and were back on the river about 8 am. Some folks enjoying the first beer of the day. Cans were kept cold by dragging bagged nets behind the boat in 60 degree water. Big metal chests in the middle for the raft held blocks of ice and fresh meat, vegetables, and fruit for the whole week.

Ready to make your own Grand Canyon Adventures? Book a trip today!

Stories from the River: “Grand Canyon Adventures” (Part 1) was last modified: July 31st, 2015 by Jessica Clark

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