In January of 2016, I randomly applied for a Grand Canyon permit, with no real plan or thought about how to do it at all. I figured, for $25, it would be a cool option to have at the least for the upcoming Winter. I knew that the Winter dates were the easiest to come by, so that is what I applied for.
Less than 10 days later, an email came in saying “Congratulations!”. Then it was “Oh, I really might have to do this…”. My first thought and the thought that always came to me about GC trips was that I never wanted to do it without Charlotte. It just seemed too…grand of an adventure to not have the memories shared with her. So I started plotting a raft trip.
Quickly I realized that the time frame of 7-10 days I wanted to do this trip in was not going to happen with rafts, so the plan quickly switched to kayaks. Just as quickly as the planned changed, so too did my thoughts about my class II-III capable kayaking wife going down as well.
When talking to folks about the difficulty of the Colorado through the Grand Canyon, you get a very wide range of opinions. To hear some, you’d think it was the Nantahala or Big South Fork, others were looking at me and saying they wouldn’t take anyone besides a big water Class V boater down in Winter. I just kept thinking, well which is it?!
This is also a time to mention one particular caveat of this trip for me, that is I didn’t want anyone on the trip who had ever been before. I was included in this criteria, I hadn’t in my life even seen the Colorado from a car, overlook or hike. The first time I would actually see the river was waking up the morning of our launch date at Lee’s Ferry and looking out my frost covered tent.
Just like the various opinions of the difficulty of the whitewater, people have had various opinions on my desire to go down with no more than a guide book and 5 senses. I can understand the different thoughts about the matter, we each have our own appetite for risk. For some the certainty of knowing the person telling you what to do or whom you are following has done this very thing before is quite comforting and necessary. I didn’t want to go on this trip to feel comfortable or coddled.
I wanted to go down there and test my own skills, experience, judgment and mettle. Not ride the coattails of someone else and rely on what they brought to the game. This was going to be MY game…well with the help of things like a very detailed map of the river, satellite technology and modern boating equipment. I was never going to be John Wesley Powell, but I was certainly going to make this more than a long trip down the Ocoee.
In the end, Charlotte ended up changing course for the trip, we found another inventive way for her to share in the experience. It would just be myself and Dan Keith, one of my best friends and a guy who helped get me going in WW kayaking.
A crew of two it would be then…Two Dudes, One Canyon!