We’ve been down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon in rafts a number of times. It would be ridiculous to try it with our long kayak, and it probably would take a lifetime to get a permit. But there is a stretch of the river where it can be done. Up river, from Lee’s Ferry about 25 miles to the infamous Glen Dam, the Colorado is quite peaceful. The current is strong but manageable, and there are no rapids.
Down at Lee’s Ferry, we happen to meet Drifter from AZRA and some other river guide friends of previous trips, and immediately the old wonderful river feeling sets in again. They are preparing to go down into the great adventure with their rafts, where the river soon becomes a wild, monstrous animal at times but is a wonderful, infinitely patient and wise story-teller at other times. The next day we set out, upstream this time, all by ourselves.
It is completely still in the morning hours, just the bird songs reflecting off the towering rock walls, and sometimes the delicate, soft whisper from the river itself when it’s rushing over a shallow bed.
Canyon Wrens sing in these walls. They are the ones who do this unique, unequaled song of exuberant jubilation: a sequence of gleefully down scaling notes, a little musical phrase, structured and a bit theatrical in the beginning and then just tumbling down, letting loose in headless ecstasy, which expresses the emotion of joy so perfectly that it seems impossible not to be cheered up and inspired by it.
The canyon is deep and fairly narrow.
There are a few places where we run out of steam and actually walk the boat through some sections. The current is so strong that even walking in the water is difficult. By the way, the water is freezing cold; it comes out of the dam from the lowest and coldest strata of Lake Powell, all the warm water remains on the surface there.
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When we finally turn around, the river smiles and embraces us and carries us with it at its own pace. We gently float down, occasionally get caught in eddies, when the river decides to take us there, and relax and surrender to the ride.
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We went down there a couple of times over the years.
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…and this was 2006 down in the biggest rapids:
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… to be continued with part 3, 4, and 5.
Klaus June 2009