In 2023, I was lucky to hitch 2 separate raft rides while ‘hiking’ the Hayduke route through the Grand Canyon. I aqua-blazed for a total of 16 miles in the spring and fall, which only left me wanting more, so much more! So this February, I’m joining a private group for 19 days down the river, from Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek, 226 miles.
I grew up next to the Arkansas River in Florence, Colorado, where rafting was a more common scene than even backpacking. My dad got into the sport in the 1980’s, bought an Aire 2-p “ducky” kayak and started dragging me and my mom along. We then did some multi-day private rafting trips (Colorado, Yampa/Green, and San Juan) when I was a teenager, plus lots of runs down the local Arkansas (but ironically I didn’t go down the infamous the Royal Gorge Canyon until just after I finished my first thru-hike, the Colorado Trail). In effect, these early river adventures were what introduced me to the magic and awe of the outdoors in the first place.
As an adult, I’ve done more river trips on my own, with some longish paddles through the Everglades (100 miles of the Wilderness Waterway) and 150 miles down the Suwanee River in my sea kayak. I even paddled a portion of the Whanganui river as part of Te Araroa, my long-distance hike in New Zealand. As much as I love hiking and backpacking, I’m a river rat and water nymph at heart. I love being on the water and spent many years coming to terms with my aqua-lust as a mate and navigator of ships at sea.
A Grand Canyon thru-paddle is an extraordinary opportunity to bring my adventures full-circle, returning to my roots. It is hands down the Grandest setting a river could run.
I will write daily reports about the trip, but posts will be delayed, since I won’t have cell service for the entire 3 weeks….look for updates mid-late March.