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 Pretrip

Friday - Saturday
May 21 - 22, 2004

Day 1: Sunday
May 23, 2004

Day 2: Monday
May 24, 2004

Day 3: Tuesday
May 25, 2004

Day 4: Wednesday
May 26, 2004

Day 5: Thursday
May 27, 2004

Day 6: Friday
May 28, 2004

Saturday & Sunday
May 29 - 30, 2004

Posttrip

LINKS

Arizona River Runners

Wes Boyd's Site

Bar - 10 Ranch

Grand Canyon Weather

Grand Canyon Safety

MainStreetNews.com

Email:
scott@mainstreetnews.com

PREPLANNING
Coming to this conclusion, we began seriously planning a trip to Arizona. Brian spent hours online and on the phone calling outfitters, finding out all he could. About a dozen companies run trips down the Colorado and we finally settled on Arizona River Runners (ARR), located in Phoenix. We had lots of questions, the first naturally concerning safety. Just how safe was this trip and how strenuous would it be? All of us had fairly extensive experience with camping, hiking and rafting in the Southeast, but this was a big step up from what we were used to. I'd never even met anybody who had made this trip.

When the boys mentioned the idea of rafting the Grand Canyon to one of their school teachers, she dismissed the notion, telling them it was impossible. "You boys are dreaming. Nobody could possibly ride through the Grand Canyon on a raft - it can't be done," she said. This lady, a history teacher, should have known that the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon was first run by a one-armed former Union Army officer, by the name of John Wesley Powell and his party of ten in 1869. Powell's successful running through the canyon in ramshackled wooden boats was a remarkable feat at the time and earned him fame nationwide. In fact, there's a significant lake named after him that supplies water for much of the population in the Southwest. Lake Powell in southern Utah is one of the largest reservoirs in the country. Powell's celebrity in the 19th century was eclipsed only by a couple of guys named Lewis and Clark, who had made a name for themselves by taking another little river trip a bit farther north of Arizona earlier in that century.

We learned that besides the rapids, the sun and weather would be our biggest concern. The daytime temperatures could easily reach well over 100 degrees in the daytime but the water temperature hovered around 50 degrees. We were told we may experience rain, flash floods or just boiling heat all week. The relative humidity would be about 2% - a far cry from the subtropical humidity we experience here in Georgia. As far as clothing, cotton was not a good choice and our wardrobes consisted of just about all cotton clothing. We incurred no small expense purchasing quality rain gear, nylon shirts, shorts, pants, socks and footwear. In retrospect, we probably got more than we needed and we all took way more clothing than we needed, but had the weather been different, it might not have seemed so extravagant.

Determining what equipment to take on the trip was our main concern in the weeks preceding the May 21 departure date. ARR sent us an extensive list of items one might want to bring, but several things were termed optional. What's optional for one person might be a necessity for another so we struggled to find the right comfort-to-weight ratio. We struggled as to the type of camera equipment to take and wound up taking several Fuji waterproof disposable cameras, a 35 mm point-and-shoot and a 3.2 megapixel digital camera. I would like to have taken more and better camera equipment but considering the conditions of the venture, decided against it.

A couple of months prior to our trip, I ran across a travelogue from a man in Minnesota who had taken a similar trip down the Colorado in May 2003. His journal was extensive and contained detailed information on what to expect and what to take. Not only that, it turned out Wes Boyd had used the same outfitter, ARR, that we were considering and had gone at about the same time of year. And, he was a newspaperman to boot. Not only was his journal (www.kayakplace.com/) indispensable in giving us hints on what to expect and how to pack, but we also emailed each other several times and got even more detailed information. His journal was invaluable in helping us decide which outfitter to use and what to take. We're indebted to this man we've only met in cyberspace for providing so much information through his love for traveling rivers.

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