Saturday, August 30, 2014

Grand Canyon

I have been looking forward to this trip for years.  seriously.  years.
We considered it last year, but Rick felt like Cole was a bit too young.
(the age limit is 10 which I think is appropriate, I'm glad we waited.  Cole is 8 and I think that is on the young side of things.  I wouldn't have wanted to take him any earlier now that I have done it and I know.)
This is just a small sample of the 800+ pictures that we took.  Some with a Cannon, a gopro, a dive camera for the rapids and waterfalls, and a few iphones.  The rest of the photos and stories will be in a photobook, if I ever get around to it.
Getting our gear ready at Lee's Ferry.

Navajo Bridge

Our first stop was Red Wall Cavern.  It doesn't look like much when you are on the water, but as you walk into this small looking cave, it just keeps going.  It's the view looking back towards the water that is so impressive.

Sierra rode front, right for every single rapid.

When we camped the first night there was some lightning and we had checked the weather forecast and knew there was a chance of rain, but we still didn't think too much of it.  It was warm but sometime in the night it started to sprinkle.  We were just sleeping on cots on the beach--no tent.  It sprinkled for a bit and then stopped.  I got up to use the bathroom and went back to bed.  Then it started to rain.  We all pulled out our tarps and put them over our cots like little mini tents.  Well, it worked somewhat for the girls.  As for the rest of us, it was more like a sieve.  We were soaking wet.  No sleep.  So, we got up and found our rain gear in the wet, dark night.  Then the sun slowly started to come up.  I was dang cold and starting to wonder what I had gotten myself into.  Our guides put up an "easy-up" for a little rain protection and started boiling water for coffee and hot chocolate.

Once we kinda started to warm up, we took a look around.
The waterfalls were breathtaking.  Red water was falling all around us.  I figured, I was already wet and wasn't going to get any warmer just standing, so we started walking around to get a better view of the waterfalls.  The theme of our trip was "this rarely ever happens" and we knew that seeing waterfalls of this magnitude in Grand Canyon was a once-in-a-lifetime event.  Even our guides said that they had never seen waterfalls like this from a rainstorm in the middle of the night.  We just walked around shivering and snapping pictures in the rain.  Amazing.
As we got on the boat that morning to leave camp and head down the river, Cole leaned over to me and said, "Mom, I was praying so hard that the rain would stop."  It finally stopped as we were finishing breakfast.  Poor little kid was freezing.  Not enough fat on him.  All the hot chocolate in camp couldn't keep him warm!

This was how we slept at night.  I had just gotten up as the sun was coming up to take a trip to the bathroom (aka groover).  I couldn't help snap this shot of the fam sleeping on the beach.  Only a slight chance of rain this night, and we were safe. 
Cole had a hard time staying on the cot.

Deer Creek Falls

Deer Creek Falls

This is the closest we came to a shower all week.

One of our guides brought a small guitar and Summer played some tunes while we sang along.

Havasu Falls
This was one of the prettiest sights on the whole river.  After spending the week in red, red, muddy water, we pull off onto some rocks and hike to the most beautiful blue water.
It's so cool when we first start hiking to Havasu and you can see where the aqua blue water drains into the main channel of the Colorado (which was exceptionally red after the rains a few days earlier)

It's so pretty.  I just wanted to stay all day and soak up all of the beauty knowing that I have been here twice (20 years ago & now) and the chances are slim I will ever return again to this place.

When I went on a river trip with Rick 20 years ago, we hiked up to this same spot.  The water level was a little higher and we were jumping off the rock on the other side of the small waterfall.  I remember climbing up and not daring to jump.  After what seemed like 30 minutes, I finally jumped.  Rick took a picture of me jumping (finally).  So, this time, after watching all of the kids and a few adults jump off the rock, I knew I had to do it.  I hiked up with Cole.  He was impatient and worked his way in front of me so he could jump first.  And then with only a slight hesitation, I stepped to the edge of the rock and jumped.  I'm not much of a water person, so once was enough.  But I knew I had to do it or I would always regret it.  I was proud of myself for just stepping up and jumping.  

We were so lucky to be on a trip with other families.  We had even prepped the kids that there would be other people on our trip that would probably live a different lifestyle than we do.  (for example, passengers are told that water and lemonade will be provided but if they want pop or alcohol, then they have to bring their own.  There was not one drop of alcohol or pop loaded in the cooler.  And that "rarely ever happens".  
So, we knew we were lucky to have 3 other families with us on a river trip.  This is me with 2 of the other moms from the trip.
Kelli, Michaeline from Chicago, and Melinda from New York City.

Shelby, Summer, and Sierra, with our NYC friends, Malen, Christina, and Anna

Sierra, Summer, Michaeline, and Gabby

All of the kids from our trip
(that many kids on one trip..."rarely ever happens")

The whole gang.

And our crew...Nate, Russ, Kevin, Jordan & Julie.
With honorary river guide Cole.
We had no idea that Jordan & Julie would be on our trip.  They are from Mapleton.
They're friends with Nate, our trip leader, who is from Vegas.  Nate invited Jordan and Julie to join to the crew.  We established right away that we were both from Mapleton, but it took a few days for us to make the connection to how we all know each other.  Julie worked at the preschool that Cole went to (hobble creek learning center) and most recently she is working at the Springville Art Museum.  She met Summer a few weeks ago when she volunteered at Art City Days.  It's such a small world.  Jordan and Julie are amazing people.  It was such a blessing to get to know them better and to have an amazing experience on the river with them.  Glad to make new friends.

We finished our trip with helicopter ride out of the Canyon.  I admit, it wasn't something that I was looking forward to at all.  But, it was pretty dang amazing.

Our view of the river as the helicopter was taking us up to the ranch to catch a plane back to Lee's Ferry.

Here we are on the plane.  It was a tiny plane.  And a rough ride.  Cole was crying and nearly used his barf bag multiple times.  I'm sure that if he had, I would have been a close second.  It was a rough ride.
And, for Shelby's first time on a plane, she was in the front of the plane and the rest of us were in the very back.  I think there were a total of 18 people on the plane.  

This was definitely the hardest thing we have ever done.  I still remember when it started to rain and I was freezing and wondering if I would ever get out of the canyon alive.  But, as I look back at these pictures, it almost makes me cry (which isn't a hard thing to do, really).  I am so glad we did this.  So glad that we could do this as a family.  Proud of my kids for doing really hard stuff.  And mostly not even whining...that "rarely ever happens."


Amara said...

Dang. I want to post a really cool comment for this really cool post that I've been waiting for, but I have nothing clever. I love the turquoise/red water pictures, and the one from the helicopter looking down. Sounds like a challenging adventure. I'm proud of you too for jumping.

Carroll Family said...

Looks like an AWESOME trip!!!!!!!! I want to hike Havasupi with my family one of these days - it's just so pretty.