Wednesday, June 17, 2009
We met at 6 for breakfast and were on the road by 7. After a brief stop to pick up Rachel at Canyoneers' offices, we headed north on US 89 past Sunset Crater, the Sacred Mountain Trading Post, and Gray Mountain, retracing the steps of George W. Hayduke several decades earlier, before he joined Seldom Seen, Bonnie, and the Doc on that fateful river trip. We crossed the Little Colorado at Cameron (we'd see it again, 15 miles downstream at its mouth, four days later) and crossing the Colorado at Navajo Bridge (which we'd float beneath two hours later and which we'd walk across in the dark two weeks later).
We arrived at Lee's Ferry around 10:30am and wasted little time getting on the river. Our boats include the Sandra (a restored 15' wooden cataract boat), four 18' inflatable Avon rafts with oar/cargo rigs, and a 30' "C-Craft" motor support boat.
Greg, our trip leader, traces his ancestry and his wooden boat to his grandfather, Norm Nevills, and to river rafting in the 1940s. Tom, a Grand Canyon doctor, who rows one of the rafts, is an expert on hiking in the canyon and has written a book about everyone who has died on and below the rim (a useful resource on a 14 day river trip). John, Wes, and Jamie row the other rafts. Amity drives the big boat and Rachel rides with her.
Passengers include three teenagers, including mine, and a baker's dozen of middle-aged canyon junkies, including a law professor, a past superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park, and a retired Air Force general. Remarkably, all are from Arizona except for us and the family from Kentucky.
The river, still fresh from the bottom of Lake Powell, is cold and clear. The weather is overcast and pleasantly mild.