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[at-l] OT: Grand Canyon Trip Report


Back from two weeks out west!  A wonderful experience shared with family,
about as good as it gets.  Glad to see there weren't any w f posts while I
was away :)

I'll spare the side trips that framed our rafting trip in the Canyon, but we
enjoyed some short hikes at Sunset Crater National Monument, one to the top
of an old cinder cone with magnificent views (my favorite quote of the trip
came from Brenda at Sunset Crater - "it's so quiet here it makes my ears
hurt").  Flagstaff's a good town and Sedona was beautiful.

We dropped our rental car at the river runner compound in Peach Springs, AZ
on the reservation and met up with our cab for the ride to the South Rim of
the Canyon.  The cabbie was a self-confessed Canyon hiking addict and said
that he'd logged over 1,500 miles below the rim.  He said that he knew every
back way to get in free to the park, although the roads were "a little
rough".  Over the roar of wind noise (no A/C), and din of rattles and
squeaks produced by his vintage 80's Caprice on the relatively smooth
surface of Route 66, I opted for the $20 fee and our legitimate entry.

Mixing with the crowds on the South Rim, we took the shuttle West and
hopscotched along the view points out to Hermits Rest, wandered through the
village rim area along Kolb Studio and El Tovar, and eventually shuttled out
to the new Canyon View center.  It's impressive and, when we do it again,
it'll be our first stop.  Overnighted at Maswik Lodge near the rim.

Hit the Bright Angel Trail at 5:20 the next morning for the trip to the
river.  Brenda and the kids did fine, and we stopped often enough to watch
lizards, birds, cactus flowers and the like to limit our exertion.  Indian
Gardens was a nice stopping point.  After many switchbacks, we arrived at
the river and the Bright Angel Trail turned into the River Trail and headed
up.  After a brief climb on an exposed rock face a few hundred feet above
the river, we descended and had two other climbs up sand dunes before
crossing the river on the suspension bridge.  We arrived at the boat launch
about 10:30 and the temperature was rising quickly toward a forecast high of
108.  A quick dip in the river was the cure for that.  The other passengers
trickled in, suffering from the heat to varying degrees, but one person in
particular was in significant distress and was choppered out before we ever
left.  Another fellow fell during the trip, injuring his arm, shoulder and
hand and was also airlifted.  Our guides said that evacuations from the
canyon floor run about $2,300.

The scenery was breathtaking.  In my trip preparation, I read somewhere that
viewing the Canyon from the rim is like viewing a work of art at a gallery,
but that hiking into and rafting the Canyon was like painting it yourself. 
I can't say it any better.  We made several sidetrips to see some falls, and
the experience of Havasu Creek was memorable.  The river was running quite
low, making some rapids less interesting and some far more.  After having
the time of our life and making new friends, we took out at Diamond Creek
for the bone-jarring bus ride up the creek bed to Peach Springs.

Fresh out of the Canyon, we spent the night in Henderson, Nevada and took in
the Hard Hat Tour at Hoover Dam.  I recommend it.

Our trip leaders were Annie Anderson (Double-A) and her husband Tony (T-A). 
Both have been running the rapids in the Canyon for 25 years, the last five
on motor tours with Diamond River and the first twenty as oar boatsmen with
O.A.R.S.  Headed down the river with them was like accompanying Norm to
Cheers.  We opted for the motor rigs because of the kids' ages (Eric's 9),
although the oar trips look like the way to go.

We had a great time.


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