Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 4

During Day 4 we completed three hikes. They were all very beautiful and it was nice to get out of the raft and move around. The scenery continued to be beautiful throughout this day and I really enjoyed being able to hike into different spots and see things I wouldn't have been able to see from the river.

The day before I left on my rafting trip I learned that my teaching job was being cut. There were several opportunities on this trip to think about my life and what I was going to do with it. This day, Day 4, was one of those days that I pondered my life's big questions.

Hike #3: We hiked to a waterfall and a lot of the group swam around and cooled off.

The waterfall at Hike #3

Ken swam under this waterfall

Hike #4: We hiked up to a waterfall area called Elves Chasm. The group played in the water some more. This hike had a little more two it than the last one and not everyone joined us on this hike. Our guide, Dave, warned us that there would be a "momentum step" a.k.a. a big step that would require a high leg lift and some exertion to successfully continue.

The terrain we hiked to reach Elves Chasm

Elves Chasm

Tom (standing) and DJ (sitting) hiked up behind the waterfall

The Momentum Step

Ken swam under this waterfall as well

Hike #5: This one was much less of a hike and much more of a walk. The canyon walls were pretty cool and we saw some good scenery. Dave gave us some time to find ourselves a spot to sit down and "take it all in". I'm pretty sure he just wanted some time to hide out and take a nap.

Evelyn, me, and Tammy at the beginning of Hike #5

Scenery above from our hike below

We spotted a lizard on this hike

Upon reaching this canyon wall our hike had ended

"Take it all in" time

We finished off the day with some beautiful scenery before setting up camp. This camp site had really small tent areas so Tammy and I slept in our tent that night. This was the night that I thought I was surely going to bake from the inside out. I've never been so hot in all my life. There were moments that I thought I might be sent into a panic due to the heat. I found myself needing to suppress thoughts like "What if I die because I'm so warm?" or "Will my body ever cool off?" or "I feel stuck, trapped! There's no breeze, nothing to cool me off even a little." Tammy and I really struggled with falling asleep that night because we were both so overheated. We did have some pretty good conversations though and that I really enjoyed.

Scenery from Day 4


I ended this day with a lengthy journal entry: "The river had some amazing rapids today...At one point this morning I did..sit up front and got very wet. Luckily, I was able to change into dry clothes at lunch. The sun was out today and I really enjoyed being able to soak up a few rays. It also gave me a good opportunity to talk to Skinny Dave [one of the guides] about some things.

"Dave graduated from college and traveled all over Mexico, part of Chile, and part of Argentina. I was really impressed with his stories and all he's done. I kept thinking What is the value of seeing things and learning about other people? Then he talked about volunteering in an orphanage for three months in Mexico, going to raft in Mexico, and meeting Ernesto [our third guide] who gets to work in the U.S. for 6 months. He [Dave] did/does things to contribute to the world and to society. And then I thought about comparing and contrasting my purpose in life and being able to fulfill that purpose with seeking a family or seeking traveling/serving adventures. I talked to Dave about [health] insurance and wanting to settle down. He never had insurance, but he always had some money set aside for emergencies. He never worried about settling down because he always figured he'd be out and meet someone doing the same things he does/was doing. He's dating a girl he's known for four years. I liked listening to Dave's stories and hearing his motivation. He cares about other people. He wants to meet, learn, and help other people. He thought about joining the Peace Corps but two years isn't long enough. (I think it's a long time) He said it gives you just enough time to build a rapport with the people and then you have to move on. I really loved talking to him!

"I have a hard time seeing how Dave's life plan fits into the Gospel. But it gives me a lot to think about, things to consider, and gusto/motivation to think outside the box. I do feel like the opportunity to have that conversation was an answer to prayers; inspired, and an amazing blessing.

"The river water is still pretty dirty but I needed to bathe. I lost all pride and bathed naked. It wasn't as weird as I thought it would be, but colder than I expected it to be. The guides were on the boat and had...a view of where I was, but I didn't care. I still squatted so they wouldn't see [much] and my thighs were burning by the time I was done. I had to keep reminding myself to breathe because the water was so cold. It was worth it. My hair feels stiff and disgusting but it's clean [somewhat]. We ate french toast and fruit for breakfast; BLTs for lunch; pasta, garlic bread, and salad for dinner yesterday. SO DELICIOUS!"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 3

When we woke up on Day 3, the water was more of a reddish color due to run off from other creeks and parts of the canyon. It was interesting to see that the color of the water could quickly change over night. The Colorado is a huge,long river filled with lots of water and it still amazes me to think that so much water could easily be influenced by runoff from other places. Before we entered "The Gorge" we passed the Little Colorado. Because of the differences in color of each river, you could see where they merged and came together.

The Little Colorado joining The Colorado

If you look closely, you can see water spots where the colors are still merging

It was on this day that we took our second hike. This one was not nearly as difficult as Hike #1 and for this I was very grateful. We hiked up to some more ruins and a beautiful view of the river we'd already traveled and the route ahead.

The Ruins

Ken, me, and Evelyn from the viewpoint of Hike #2

The view below

Where the river would take us despues de our hike.

The view of what we'd previously floated.

At this point we got back on the river and headed onward. This day would be made up of high canyon walls and lots of rain.

Beautiful rock formations composed the scenery above

I'll let you use your imagination to determine
what this particular formation looks like

The skies were quite foreboding all day long

Winding our way closer to the Gorge

The canyon walls are starting to get higher and
the distance between them is starting to narrow

At this point we heard, "Everyone in the back get on the ground."
Apparently there were some huge rapids ahead and
the ground of the boat was the safest place to be.

A glimpse of what we were heading into

The pictures really don't do the rapids justice

The walls of the Gorge were tall and black and due to the rain, completely soaked. It rained all day and as we traversed through the Gorge we saw multiple waterfalls running down the edge of the cliffs. The Gorge was one of my favorite scenes on this trip. I can't say it was one of my favorite days, the rain tended to dampen my spirits (pun totally intended), but the scenery was unique and we wouldn't see anything like it for the remainder of the trip.

A couple of the waterfalls spotted on the canyon walls.

We took somewhat of a rest stop at Phantom Ranch. This is about midway point through the canyon on our river trip. If one were to float half the river, he would put in here and float the remainder or float to this point and go home. When you hear of people riding donkeys down the Grand Canyon, this is where they end up. There's some civilization in this area but really it's the only point of civilization on this trek.

Ken and Tammy at the bridge at Phantom Ranch.

Civilization meant a flush toilet!!!

I was very excited to set up camp that evening. The rain had finally stopped and the lightened my spirits quite a bit. The temperatures were a little cooler and the rain was threatening to come again, so Tammy and I slept in our tent that night. Aside from the first night of being forced into our tents due to sand blasting, this would be our first of two full nights in a tent. This was definitely the least miserable tenting experience.

I ended Day 3 with a journal entry: "Benji was blessed today and I missed it. That's the second blessing I've missed...

"It poured rain today and it was very difficult for me to maintain a positive attitude. Luckily, I have Ken's amazing attitude on the same boat which helped me turn things around. I've really enjoyed getting to know our guides and our boat-mates. I enjoy meeting new people and conversing with them. This has been, and will continue to be, an incredibly trip-a day of pouring rain and all."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 2

On July 31, we woke up, ate breakfast, and got back on the river. I don't think it was an easy first night for any of my fellow rafters. Between getting used to sleeping on thin mats, the wind/blowing sand, and the rain it was difficult for most of us to get a good night's rest. The morning was a little cooler than I originally expected and although I was terribly excited to get back on the river, I do remember thinking that if everything night was going to be that difficult and if I was going to feel that awful every morning then it was really going to be a long week. Luckily, things started looking up.

Early morning mist on the river

Tammy and Evelyn-It was a chilly morning

Our first stop that morning was to a little cave where we tossed a Frisbee and talked with our guides about the canyon. Ken saw this as an opportune time to get a little bit of shut-eye since the night before was so rough.

The cave where we tossed a Frisbee and talked with our guides

Ken taking a nap

We floated on throughout the day. There were lost of fun rapids and I took all of them up front. It made for a cold ride, for a it took quite some time to feel the heat from the sun, but it was well worth it.

The morning mist covering the cliff-tops

Waiting for some good rapids-Ken and me (and Tom's back)

Some of the cool, naturally created rock formations

Skinny Dave getting some experience manning the raft

Once we made it to our campsite, we unloaded the boat, set up camp, and headed out on our first hike. We hiked up to (it felt like a straight-up climb and I told myself that if every hike was going to be like this, I wouldn't be going on every hike; fortunately, that wasn't the way it turned out to be).

View from Hike #1-If you look closely, you can see the darker shade of the creek
merging with the lighter shades of the Colorado River

The hike provided beautiful views and our destination was up to some granaries. If I remember correctly, the natives would store their food in places like this in order to protect it. It was a difficult hike but it was a good opportunity to get to know some of the people on our raft.

The granaries

The ruins of what used to be a granary

Inside one of the granaries

Evelyn and me

Views from our destination

I ended Day 2 with a journal entry: "Today was a really fun day! The food has been absolutely wonderful! We had delicious chicken salad wraps for lunch; salmon, couscous, and spinach salad for dinner; eggs (cooked to order) fruit, and bagels; roast beef sandwiches (with a PB & J option) and chips for lunch; and hamburgers/brats and cole slaw for dinner with carrot cake for dessert. It's been so good!

"We spent quite a bit of time on the river and it's been amazing. Evelyn, Ken, and I went on a hike. It was tough but it was a beautiful view! Ken headed back down before Evelyn and I so she and I had an awesome conversation about activity in the Gospel, the priesthood, and receiving the endowment. I've really been enjoying this time with Ken and Evelyn. I really do look up to them so much."