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Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon – Up and Out

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April 15

We awakened on our last morning in the Canyon with bittersweet feelings. In a few short hours, I’d be able to speak to my wife and kids for the first time in four days, using the “always-on” technology that was not only used by me as a consumer, but was the lifeblood of my business. But frankly, I didn’t miss it. For four days, no email, no Facebook, no phone calls, no instant messaging…it truly was peaceful.thegroover

It also meant one last trip to “the Groover”, our porta-john in a tent. Without turning this blog too risque, if you are holding out from camping for hygiene reasons, this is the way to go. This was much cleaner than some of the porta-cans we’ve encountered at Rugby tourneys or running events. And the girlie mags were a nice touch (thanks, Ron; good article on Milla Jovanovich).

We loaded differently this morning, wearing dry clothes, Walker’s promise that we wouldn’t get wet convincing us. Instead of the dry bags, we packed in CRATE duffle bags. We embarked, and once more watched the sunlight creep down the walls of the canyon.
p4150331Grand Canyon
Our boat ride was a dry, three miler to the helipad at Whitemore Wash. After only hearing the motor of the boat as the sole mechanical sound, the helicopter sounded almost obscenely loud as it circled in the first time. We’d finished the 100 miles on the river, and most of the 15 cases of beer; as the next travelers who were to join Walker on the remainder of the river trip got of the copter, Ron rewarded them with one of our remaining stash of beverages.

We said our goodbyes to Walker as we lined up to board the helicopter in shifts (five people per flight plus the pilot, more of less, depending on weight). If I haven’t made it clear in this series of posts, I HIGHLY reccommend Walker, Dewey and Colorado River and Trail Expeditions; they made a once-in-a-lifetime trip even more memorable. Walker even offered to take me on as a “swampper”, which was nice…but probably meant he and Dewey were just tired of building and breaking down the “Groover”.

Grand Canyon from AboveGrand Canyon from AboveSeeing the Canyon from above is drastically different that the views from the river. What looks full of color and beauty below is a stark contrast to the ruggedness, the true violent geology you can see from above. Sometimes, being on the river makes you forget you are in the middle of a desert, but the landscape from above brings it back to reality. John and I had joked with Walker that we were going to hike out from the helipad, one last “Death March”; seeing that landscape made me believe the hike would have lived up to that name.

We were transported to the Bar 10 ranch, which was on the North Rim, where we were to fly across the Canyon to the South Rim. The Bar 10 had showers and internet access. That first hot shower was pretty amazing, and, in spite of the freedom felt from no technology, it was nice to be able to send my wife a note that I was alive, that jumping from rock to rock had not resulted in anything worse that a few banged up knees and being late to dinner once or twice.

When all had arrived, we bade good bye to Dewey, who was driving one of the CRATE trucks back to Utah.img00280-20110415-1140

The airport at the Bar 10 has one runway…but the sign talks big.
The view from the airplane to the Grand Canyon airport was higher still, and again reminded me where we had been, what we had seen. The Grand Canyon is truly one of the wonders of the world; the first people to see it, be they native Americans, explorerers or John Wesley Powell and crew, most likely felt the same kind of awe and amazement that I did waking up every morning looking at its walls. Whether you see it from the Rim, from the Colorado River or from a hike…just go see it. Walker told us that 22,000 people see the canyon by raft each year. Yet somehow it still looks pristine, as each person follows the “Leave nothing behind” rule. I am not a raving environmentalist, but it certainly makes you wonder if we shouldn’t try this concept everywhere.

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