To leave only footprints behind while rafting through Grand Canyon
Over the years, I have flown in a small aircraft over Grand Canyon, taken a helicopter tour, hiked parts of the canyon, driven through parts of it, stayed nights there, done some touristy things, and rafted through the white water rapids of Colorado river. It is the last I want to share with you today.
Two of us had started at the South Rim main visitor’s complex at 5:00 a.m.. Six hours, 9 miles and 5000 ft descent later, we had joined our rafting group. We had hiked before, rafted before but it was our first camping experience. We were looking forward to eight days in the Canyon. Our group consisted of six raft boats with a guide each and about 6 people to a raft. All except our raft. Our raft was thinly populated – us, our river guide and a lot of camping gear. Little did we know then.
The day went wonderfully well – euphoria of successfully navigating class III and class IV rapids, learning about the geology of Grand Canyon from our geologist cum river runner guide and the fact that we were on an amazing spot on this planet. Evenings taught us how to scramble for a half decent spot on the campsite. I still remember, that on the first night I had wanted to sleep close to the river. That night we had slept fitfully – the spot we had chosen was somewhat slanted and we had kept sliding towards one side of the tent. I had woken up dreaming that the river water was lapping on the edges of our tent.
When I think back, it is still hard to say if I liked the days better or the nights. The days were so gloriously full of activities from 5 a.m. onwards – cowboy style coffee, near gourmet meals, fast and furious rapids, exploring the canyons, an occasional hike or two, exchanging stories of other adventures… Nights on the other hand fell rapidly in the canyon. By 8:00 p.m., there was nothing to see but the stars. And what a lot of them there were. I am a city bred. Sights like the milky way are things I had read in a book until then.
Our first morning in the canyon was also our first experience with outdoor loo. Far from the general hustle and bustle of the campsite, a tin box was set up as the loo. Except for the fact that the whole lot of us were shitting in a box 20 in x 20 in x 8 in, the whole arrangement was not unpleasant. Just as I had sat down in the privacy of the tinpot, contemplating the river in front of me, I was cheerily waved by a group of rafters going down the river. Yikes, the loo was set up away from our campground but I had entirely forgotten about existence of other rafting groups on the river.
That day, we learnt about our special raft. We were carrying the portable toilets for the 15 day rafting trip. Half the group had started seven days earlier on the north rim! Leave only footprint behind…. I remember asking our guide if the tin cans had come undone in the past. We were told that although the rafts frequently go through the class IV rapids, and sometimes capsized, one of the toilet rafts had never capsized before – at least not to their knowledge. But, there is always the first time….
I am happy to report that nothing went wrong on that trip. Well, apart from the fact that I lost my companion’s brand new teva shoes. And, I didn’t take as many photos as I should have. And, our brand new New Beetle broke down on our way back from the trip. At least the shit didn’t hit the canyon.