We wake up and Brady, a guy who looks like he belongs holding the oars of the Emerald Mile, instructs us on how to brew the perfect batch of cowboy coffee along with our first of twenty cold cereal breakfasts. Great for day one, probably less great for day twenty, but we’ll see when we get there. Next, a park ranger named John commences Grand Canyon 101- a highly intensive one hour course on how not to die out there. Jake is instantly distracted by using the last of his 3G connection to search YouTube videos of rattle snakes. Ranger John is unimpressed. He continues to tell us about how to treat the immaculately kept campsites, what to do if you see a Raven (Throw rocks at it. Actually.) and the procedure for a heli evacuation. This might be the only time Jake and Austin pay attention and their eyes light up as Ranger John goes over the birds they fly and how to set up a good LZ*. Boarders for life. Finally Ranger J is checking our ID’s to make sure we’re not smuggling any illegals down the river and he gives us the OK to hit the high seas…for real this time. The excitement that is circulating amongst the group is infectious as everyone giddily hops into their rafts for the second time. And then it’s suddenly all happening. We’re rowing and rowing and rowing. Under the Navajo bridge, the last piece of infrastructure we’ll see for ____ miles, and into the depths of the red walls and green river. Goodbye civilization. Goodbye Snapchat. After feeling extremely confident conquering our first riffles* we roll up to rapid numero uno, Badger. The Colorado’s rapids use a unique 1 to 10 rating system. Each rapid changes rating depending on the amount of water flowing at the time. Some are more dangerous at low water, others at high. Badger is around a 5 so Jake decides to play it safe with a helmet.
We’re in Marble Canyon and I’m having difficulty with my eyes communicating exactly what I’m seeing to my brain. It is truly unlike anything I have ever witnessed. The walls tower around us as though we are ants wandering through a field of grass. I flip through our map book reading about the history of the rock’s colours and textures, the curves of the river, and the explorers who first played eyes on them. I am beginning to understand the infatuation people have with this place.
We roll through a few more rapids. We lose our first items to the Colorado. Sacrifices, I say. Give the river a brand new fish eye lens and a pair of sunglasses day one and it’s sure to reward you at some point, right? We sip Rumskowskis, snack on pistachios, apply SPF, and soak it all in until we arrive at camp. Time to learn how delicious of a condiment sand can be. It’s absolutely everywhere. We are so isolated out here and it feels perfect. It’s like you’re hidden away from everything in the world and no one can find you. Shit would jump from the North wall to the South wall and completely skip over you. Ranger John said lighting sometimes strikes at the bottom of the Canyon, but there’s no way it would ever find us down here.