Rafting the Grand Canyon, Private River Permit Part 18

Seventeenth river day 35 miles Upper 220 Mile Camp 4/11/2019

As we were nearing the end of the trip people were starting to get tired and tempers were stating to flare. Luckily, we had no stops scheduled, as we were trying to make up time so we wouldn’t have to do the night float. We rowed a solid 35 miles, our largest milage of the trip! This combination of our distance and having a mostly uneventful day finally lead us to get our first choice in campsites for a while. We have had to use alternatives because the bubble of people that we had been with for a couple of days were in the good sites. Having passed the bubble we did catch up to a new group that we hadn’t seen before, but fortunately they were just downstream from the camp we wanted. This day’s only event was the swimmers we had. Brett tried to tackle Micah as he ran from his raft to the barge of rafts we had lashed together; he slipped and fell into the water. Laughing we pulled him onto the boats before he went under the tied rafts. I also fell in trying pee off the back of a boat. It is very important to use the tripod position keeping 3 points of contact when reliving yourself off the raft after drinking all day. If I would have had one more point of contact, two knees and a hand for example, instead of standing straight up using both my hands elsewhere I would have stayed in the boat. I am just glad I didn’t have a dry suit on. It would have filled it up with water while I struggled to get back on the raft.

We put on the river before motorboat season which in my mind made for an idealistic trip. The fuel powered boats had caught up to us a little earlier in the trip, but on this section, we also saw our first helicopters. The amount of commercialism would explode two nights from now after we passed Separation Camp.

As we were setting up camp and cooking dinner C.J was put in charge of the desert. Seconds before he ruined the nonbaked cheesecake by frying it in a pan he declared, “I don’t read directions and I don’t measure shit!” Hence the sorry condition for the cheesecake scramble. Luckily, he only made one box and Bonnie was able to salvage dessert. While that was going on I busy hitting Micah in the head with a tent because I was aggravated with someone else. He was laying down early because Ryan and he, wasted, had gotten into an argument over something or another and we had to separate them. So as the last piece of the tent, a pole bag, landed beside him.

He asks, “What did I do?”

“Shit, sorry! Nothing, I didn’t know you were back there.”

“Why?”, he drunkenly asked.

I was mad because I need lotion for my hands, they were cracking profusely from the arid desert environment despite having lathered them with lotion every night then pulling latex gloves over them to keep the moisture in. My lotion was in one of someone else’s multiple bags and they refused to let me get it. So, I decided to make room for my lotion in my bag since their tent and sleeping bag was taking up most of the space, hence the tent missiles landing about Micah. Now with all sorts of newfound room in my bag all I needed was to get my lotion back to try and heal my hands since I was actually spending some time on the oars. Calming down and my anger diminishing from his simple question, “Why?”, I proceeded to apologized to Micah.

I believe spending all day drinking White Claws as our main form of hydration was taking a toll, especially since we pushed ahead rowing all day not taking any hiking breaks. At this point however, I was so annoyed I just wanted to go home. I didn’t know how I was going to make it the next 4 days. This was one of the worst experiences of my life. On the plus side now that I didn’t have to pack, unpack, load and unload someone else’s gear which in turn gave me hour or more of my life back to relax and try to center.

Hopefully, like miserable physical experiences, pushing your body beyond its limits which in turn requires even greater mental constitution to overcome the obstacle, miserable emotional experiences also wither with time. Leaving behind only memories of the accomplishment while the memories of the pain fade away. A person just remembers the spectacular view at the summit not the bleeding, raw blister, oozing and scabbing into your sock, making the hike up all but unbearable.

So, I believe the mental emotional anguish will too dissipate leaving mostly the memories of smashing through the waves, heart racing, smiles on everyone’s face in the day paired with magnificent sunsets of the Canyon, everyone feeling truly alive going into the night. The only difference I foresee between the emotional and physical is that the latter leaves you with a feeling of accomplishment, but what does the emotional leave?

I was awoken later that night by C.J. screaming, “Kelly!” It took me a minute, but when Micah started laughing, I realized C.J. was trying to quietly find Kelly because he had gotten lost while trying to pee. We laughed even harder when, “Keeeellllllly!” became a frantic screech and he was literally 200 yards away from his tent at Brett and Courtney’s tent. We almost went to help when he stumbled to the rafts and screamed again, but it was just too funny to watch. Finally, to our dismay, Kelly opened the tent door and in a dejected voice, “over here C.J.” thus ending our enjoyment for the day.

In the morning we passed the group, lined up on the bank, as we rowed downstream doing Brett’s favorite, the reverse wave, we yelled, “hey you guys!”, only to turn and wave the other way. When we turned back around, we were greeted with a line of bare asses. Around one guys ankles were the exact copy of Micah’s golden booty shorts. Laughing almost as hard as we did at C.J. last night, we rowed away.

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