Endurance Rafting – Part 1

June 2, 2016

I am 4 days away from doing something I have always wanted to do: raft the Colorado River thought the Grand Canyon, a different kind of endurance ride. My husband is doing the full 19 days and Kael and I are jumping in on day 8.

We have done a multi-day trip before (Smith River), and have done class IV and V rapids on other rivers in a smaller boat, but one major difference here is, if something goes wrong, you can’t walk to a highway, you’re pretty much relying on a helicopter ride. I have never ridden Tevis, or even a 100 mile ride, but I’m thinking that in some ways this trip might be more like doing Tevis than a 50-mile ride is like Tevis.

Even just in prepping for this trip I’m realizing there are a lot of things I’ve learned from endurance riding that should be helpful in “endurance rafting”:

#1 – Anti Monkey Butt Powder
#2 – Never try anything new at a ride. (I am breaking this rule many times over, but applying it where I can)
#3 – Ride your own ride.
#4 – If it’s a wild ride, hang on! If you fall off (or out), take calming breaths and get back on (or in)
#5 – Dress for all sorts of weather and use sunscreen
#6 – Eat right and electrolyte
#7 – Just keep going, it’s the only way you’re going to get back home
#8 – Look after each other, and be kind
#9 – Enjoy the ride!

It will be interesting to see how this list evolves by the end of the trip. Some of these things have already been helpful as I mentally prepare. I started off quite nervous about this adventure, just as I was before my first endurance ride. That was quite the wild ride, requiring a lot of hanging on and mental toughness, and I expect this to be much the same.

In order to raft the Grand Canyon without an outfitting company, you have to enter and win a “lottery”. There is about a 1% chance of winning. Some people have been trying for ten years or more. We somehow won it on our first try, a good thing, since we aren’t getting any younger! But we ended up with a put-in date of six days before Kael’s graduation from High School. (Kael’s school career has also been an endurance ride. For him, for us, and for more than a few teachers. I never got into all the pomp and circumstance of my own graduation, but I finally understand what’s so exciting about tossing that graduation cap; I might grab his cap and throw it myself. To Finish is to Win!)

So Delmer finds himself doing the first 80 miles or so of the trip solo. He’s crazy enough to think that’s pretty cool. Here he is on his way, with a shipshape truck full of gear:

Shipshape Truck

He has spent an incredible amount of time over many months in preparation. Here is just part of our pile of stuff which he fit neatly into the truck along with oars, more gear and our deflated raft:


We are going no frills from a camping and food standpoint, but we have about the safest and most comfortable rafting rig you can get, a great dry-box setup, 18′ long and extra wide for stability, and even has a bimini for protection from the desert sun:


I thought too late of the idea of putting a spot tracker on the boat, and we elected not to get a satellite phone, so I have no way of knowing exactly where Delmer is. Hopefully he will be waiting for us at the bottom of the South Kaibab trail. The hike itself is also something I’ve always wanted to do, and will be spectactular, but now it’s just the start of an even bigger adventure.

South Kaibab Trail Photo of South Kaibab Trail from http://www.backpacker.com/trips/arizona/grand-canyon-national-park/grand-canyon-national-park-south-kaibab-trail-to-bright-angel-trail/#bp=0/img1

  1. Well????? it’s July, waiting for a story!!!!!

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