By Brendan Leonard

Chacos have their roots in whitewater rafting. I do not. Pre-2013, I had spent about 36 hours total on rafts, and only one overnight trip. When my friend Forest asked if I would be interested in a 28-day trip in the Grand Canyon this November, I said the only sensible thing I could say: yes. 

Despite my almost total inexperience, a group of 14 people let me hitchhike on what I called "the Mount Everest of Raft Trips" from Nov. 11 through Dec. 8. It was exactly what people have always said it is: the trip of a lifetime. I learned some rudimentary whitewater skills, only swam one rapid, and marveled at soaring canyon walls for four straight weeks. 

1. Rigging the boats for the first time at the Lee's Ferry Boaters' Camp, Day 1, Mile 0.1. 280 miles to go. 

2. Playing some Frisbee in Redwall Cavern, Day 3.

3. The kayakers in our group paddle into gusty winds on Day 5.

4. The sun rises behind Zoroaster Temple on Day 8, at Below Pipe Creek Camp.

5. Our Day 10 campsite at New Shady Grove was tighter than a Phish concert.

6. Our first layover day, Day 14, was at Racetrack Camp, and we battled wind and rain most of the day. 

7. The group scouts Upset Rapid on Day 16.

8. Day 17: We brought an inflatable SUP board, and I paddled it for the first time to here, about 150 feet up Havasu Creek.

9. Another shot of the falls at Havasu Creek.

10. Forest Woodward celebrates Thanksgiving on Day 18 with some laundry at Tuckup Canyon.

11. Day 19, somewhere around Mile 170.

12. The group scouts Lava Rapid, the last of the big rapids on the trip, a Class 9 at Mile 180.

13. Diamond Peak dominates a pre-storm horizon just above Two Hundred Twenty-Two Mile Camp on Day 23.

14. Maybe the best sunset of the trip, Day 23, Two Hundred Twenty-Two Mile Camp.

15. The wind-sculpted beach at 279 Mile Camp, Day 27. 

Comments (1)

By Michigander 3/31/2014

Beautiful pics!

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