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I flew to Salt Lake City from Seattle and rode down to Lee’s Ferry with Nick and Ben.  We showed up the night before our launch, met everyone, packed our boats, and later tested out the fire pan, which worked great.  On the morning of launch day, Ranger Peggy gave us our orientation and checked our gear. She checks everyone to make sure we have PFDs, breakdown paddles, groovers, hand sanitizer, stove, and other kitchen items.


The get on at Lee's Ferry



Our first day we went 17 miles to House Rock rapid. It was a nice introduction to the trip since we got our first dose of the flatwater we’d be paddling throughout the trip. There was a LOT of flatwater! I had thought there would be current carrying us along the entire way, but the level was low (9K to 16K) and some of the areas were like paddling through lakes.



1st camp at house rock rapid

But once you get to the rapids, they are oh so good.  Even the smaller rapids have big, fun waves.  I was able to catch air off of a wave in a “class 5” rapid (using the 10 class rating scale of the Grand).


1st camp at house rock rapid

At camp at house rock rapid, we met the ravens that followed us for the first few days. The little bastards can grab anything that weighs less than 5 pounds or so and carry it away. We chased them a few times after they had grabbed some of our stuff.


Day 2 was another 27 miles and featured the “Roaring 20’s.” This was a super fun 10-mile stretch of river with 10 or so medium-sized rapids. This was followed by another long stretch of flats. We stopped and had lunch at Red Wall Cavern, which is an amazing place. Here we met the first of three groups of rafters we’d see on the trip. The rafters were great, and they gave us a much appreciated case of PBR.

Our crew having lunch at redwall cavern


By the end of day 2, I had developed numerous blisters on my hands. Next time I will most definitely pack paddling gloves or mittens in addition to pogies. I had to tape my hands each day starting on day 3 and developed 18 blisters on my hands by the end of the trip. Only one other person had an issue with blisters.

Daily hand taping , I did switch to medical tape.


Day 3 brought 25 more miles of mostly flatwater as an “easy rest day.”  Most of the crew did a short side hike up to the Granaries, but I laid down to bask in the sun and nap instead.  We also passed the confluence with the Little Colorado on day 3.

Me at the Little Colorado


By now the trip is in full swing, we’re getting into the rhythm of packing and unpacking our boats each day, and all of the biggest and best rapids are still downstream.