Sorry it has taken me so long to continue. I start to write, but then I find I am not a good enough writer to put into words how amazing this trip was! So I will just do my best and you will have to bear with me.
So, after lunch we all hop back in our boats and continue on down the river. Soon we come to Badger Creek Rapid, our first “real” rapid. I have done white water rafting before, but always in a paddle boat, and always sitting behind someone else. Hubby and I were riding in an oar boat so we had front row seats and all we had to do was hold on and enjoy the ride while our guide Ari did all the work. It was great fun! I got to really see how big the waves were before they splashed me in the face. Following Badger we then went through Soap Creek Rapid, Sheer Wall Rapid, and then the infamous House Rock Rapid.
Mixed in between the rapids were lovely stretches of nice calm water. Then we could relax, dry out a bit, and listen to Ari while she told us about the geology of the canyon. I’ve never had much interest in geology, but even the names of the formations were interesting. The first day we saw Esplanade Sandstone and the start of the Supai group.
Late afternoon arrives and we pull into our first camp. Our guides don’t ask much of us, so when they ask that we form a bag line and help unload the boats we are more than happy to oblige. There is a lot of stuff to come off the boats! There is one gear bag and one sleep kit for every person, plus everything needed for the kitchen, including 3 tables and a 6 burner stove! And of course, the all important groover and 2 hand washing stations. The guides don’t even ask us to unload the groover. They take it directly off the boat and find a nice private place to set it up. They set up the handwashing station at the start of the trail to the groover. It consists of 2 red buckets, with a foot pump in between, one bucket has river water, the other bucket catches the soapy water as you rinse, soap, sanitizer, and “the key”. The key is a plastic box which holds the toilet paper. You take it with you when you go to the groover. So if the key isn’t with the handwashing station you know the groover is “busy”.
Once the boats are unloaded and the groover and kitchen areas established we are encouraged to find our camp site. The camp itself is wonderful. Lots of fine white sand but also lots of rocks and bushes. It turns out that there are few clear spots on this beach so we end up sharing with a few other couples.
Once we have chosen our spot it is back to the boats for more orientation talks. While most of the guides work on preparing our dinner, Kent gives us our camp orientation. He talks about the importance of handwashing (Imagine 23 people with a stomach bug sharing one groover!) and groover etiquette. (Don’t forget to bring back the key!) Once again we are reminded that we don’t get privacy, we give privacy.
Then he introduces us to the water filter. We drink a lot of water, and all of it is river water that must first be filtered and treated. We are encouraged to spend some time every day pumping water through the filter so there will be plenty for the next day. It turns out that pumping water is a popular chore and I only managed to do it once, by making someone else quit!
Finally dinner is ready. Ravioli with lots of cheese baked in a dutch oven, garlic bread and salad. We also had appetizers and desert but I am sorry to say I can’t remember what they were! it was all very good and there was plenty. Everyone helps with the dishes and then it is bedtime. The guides will sleep on the boats and all the guests sleep up on the beach.
Tents have been provided, and we have been shown how to set them up, but Kent tells us we really don’t need them. There is little chance of rain, the weather is quite warm, and taking down the tent is just one more chore for the morning. We take a tent to our campsite anyway. Away from the guides we talk with other guests about the pros and cons of setting up a tent. Some people set up tents saying they don’t want to have to do it at 4 am if it starts to rain. Some choose to sleep under the stars. I thought for sure I would set up the tent, just so I could have some privacy, but I decide to be tough and do without.
Our sleep kits consist of a tarp, a self inflating thermarest pad, a sleeping bag and liner. I have brought a pillow case which I stuff with my fleece jacket for a pillow. Hubby brought a stuff sack which worked much better because he could close it and all the stuffing wouldn’t come out. We find a reasonably level spot and set everything up.
I am now in a quandary. I need to change out of my still slightly damp clothes, and into something clean and dry. But because of the limited number of camping sites we are in very close quarters with a bunch of people I only just met this morning. And silly me said I was tough and didn’t need a tent! I finally wander off into the bushes and find a spot where I can change. And while I am at it, I decide to try out the groover. All I can say is the great outdoors with a great view makes it worth having to **** in an ammo can!
Finally I am in my sleeping bag and settling down for the night. I look up and realize that everyone sleeping in a tent is so missing out. The moon is almost full, and the moonlight on the canyon walls is spectacular. Even with the bright moon, there are lots of stars, and I see a shooting star blaze across the sky. I don’t want to close my eyes, but finally the day catches up with me and I sleep.