In September 2019, my friend and I went on a road trip through Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California. (For more information about this road trip, click here) While on this road trip, we of course visited the Grand Canyon National Park. How could you go to Arizona and not go to the Grand Canyon?! But, not only did we want to see it from the top like you can see in all the pictures, we kind of wanted to see it from the river too. And the best way to do that was to go rafting! Since we didn't have much time, the 14 days rafting trip through the whole Colorado River wasn't exactly a possibility, but with Hualapai River Runners, we could go rafting for a day at the West end of the Grand Canyon.
We arrived the day before in Peach Springs, Arizona, a small reserve on road 66. We were to leave early in the morning from the Hualapai Lodge, and since there was no campground in Peach Springs, we were allowed to park and spend the night in their parking lot. The lodge is beautiful and there is a restaurant and small shop where you can purchase everything you might need or have forgotten for your day of adventure, like sunscreen, watershoes, dry bags, etc.
Early in the morning, we had breakfast in the van and walked to the front desk to wait for our guide. There were about twenty of us going on this expedition that day so we all climbed on a bus for the 1-hour drive to the Colorado River. The ride wasn't exactly peaceful as it is a dirt road, but the views as we climbed down the canyon was incredible. Soon, we had made it to the end of the road where the rafts were waiting for us to board. We put on our lifejackets, put our personnal items in a barrel for safe keeping and climbed aboard. There were 6 of us in our raft, plus our guide, as we started our journey down the river.
As indicated on the website, the first few miles are rapids, small ones and medium ones, nothing to make you fall overboard, but just enough to be completely drenched and have fun! The water is freezing cold and my hands were white from holding on to the raft as hard as I could, but I don't think I had laughed that much in a long time. The whole time, our guide was telling us about the region, its climate, vegetation and history, about the Hualapai tribe and their legends and traditions, about the history of his ancestors and how they try to preserve their way of life while adapting to the 21st century.
Once we were completely drenched to the bones, it was time for our first stop on the side of the canyon. We hiked a short way through a side canyon to a beautiful waterfall where we could sit in shallow pools and take pictures or relax for a while. Then, it was time to get back on the raft and get through the last rapids before lunch.
For lunch, we stopped at a small beach. Lunch was provided and thankfully dry as we had a sandwich with our choice of juice, water or soda, chips, cookies and fruits. I probably ate way too much and it wasn't the most healthy, but after hanging on in the rapids, hiking and swimming, I was hungry! We had some time to dry off in the sun and get to know our boat mates while we ate and then it was back to the water as it was really hot in the sun. I think I put sunscreen on about four times that day and still got sunburnt.
The rest of the afternoon was spent cruising along the canyon and looking around trying to convince ourselves that we were living this for real. I think the canyon is even more impressive from the bottom. The walls somehow seem taller and the river seems narrower.
Our boat mates had also made the reservation to be helicoptered out and go to the skywalk, so in the middle of the afternoon, we left them on the side of the canyon where the helicopter would pick them up and continued our journey just the two of us and our guide. Since it was just the two of us for the remaining 10 miles, our guide let us drive the raft and decide when we wanted to stop for a swim so we had a great rest of our afternoon and definitely took advantage of the swimming and walking along the shores.
We arrived at the dock at about 7 PM and had an hour of bus ride by ourselves to head back to the lodge. Both of us were exhausted and slept almost the whole way back, but we were also very satisfied of this day on the Colorado River.
So, was this day crazy expensive and definitely not something I could afford at the time? Absolutely! Do I regret it? Absolutely not!
I think it was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so happy we took the opportunity. How many people can say they were in the middle or the bottom of the Grand Canyon? I would definitely recommend it or even the multiple day expedition. I would have kept going for a few more days without tiring.
Other articles you might enjoy
In October 2021, I decided that I couldn't spend one more full winter in Quebec City and had to take a vacation somewhere warm. At the time, Covid was under control in Canada and everything was starting to open up with promises of Christmas parties on the horizon. I wanted to go to a country I had never visited before, but at the same time, I wanted to feel safe and to make sure I would be able to find decent accommodation to quarantine if I did end up catching Covid on vacation. So I decided to visit the Bahamas in January of 2022!
The Bahamas are only a short flight from Quebec, I speak the language and they seamed to have Covid rules that would be safe, but still allow me to visit and actually have something to do and places to eat. The only thing that was problematic was that you needed to take a rapid test before getting on a national flight and on your 3rd day on any Island. So if I wanted to visit multiple Islands, it would mean an extraordinary amount of tests. And then I found Liberty Fleet Tall Ships, a company from Boston that offers week long sailing cruises from Nassau, and it seemed like an answer to all of my prayers.
The first night, we met the other passengers and crew members, learned the few rules to follow to live on a tall ship and how everything works (when I say everything, I mean everything that we as passengers would be using : the shower, the toilet, the doors, etc). Dinner was not included, so I went with other passengers to the marina's restaurant, which was very good although expensive like every restaurant in the Bahamas. We would be sleeping on board the ship that night, and would sail off only in the morning.
I think it's time to interrupt this summary of my week on the Liberty Clipper to talk about food. First, the Liberty Clipper has two cooks and a tiny galley (kitchen) where they spent almost their whole days cooking the meals for the passengers and crew. Honestly, I have no idea how they were able to create such delicious and nutritious feasts in this minuscule kitchen that was so hot you would sweat just walking by. Every morning, there would be a different breakfast of eggs or waffle, or granola, with bread and bagels, yogurt and fruits. Lunch would be served on the beach or on the boat depending where we were for the day and was always fresh with lots of veggies. There were always snacks like fruits, cookies and chips if we were hungry during the day. And for dinner every night, there would be a different meal. We had hamburgers, taco Tuesday, spaghetti with a salad and garlic bread, salmon... and then came the best part! A different dessert every night! On our first night, it was one of the passengers' birthday, so we had cake that had cooked in the oven, but since the wind was making the boat lean on one side, the cake was thicker on one end and thinner on the other, but still cooked throughout without burning! Let's just say, I was so impressed by their work and might have gained a few pounds during the week. No regrets whatsoever!
Other articles you might enjoy
25/7/2022 0 Comments
SWIMMING IN THE VIRGIN RIVER
I absolutely loved the road trip I went on with my friend Karine in Utah, Nevada and Arizona. These states are gorgeous all around with their mountains of red limestone, deep creeks, deserts as far as the eye can see and narrow canyons, but, in September when we went, it is HOT. In some parts, it is scorching.
On the second day of our road trip, we were hiking in the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada before driving to Zion National Park in Utah. We started early as we knew it would be hot. I had intentionally chosen small hikes so we could slowly get used to the heat as, being from Canada, we are not used to this. The two hikes were about 30 minutes each, but after the first one, I could feel myself getting dizzy and dehydrated even after drinking from my water bottle every two seconds. As a lifeguard and having lived in Florida before, I can recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and this was it. We took a break before deciding to do the second hike. We stayed in the shade, drank cold water from our refrigerator, ate fruits and veggies and salty snacks and we were both feeling good enough to go. And it was so worth it as the view on the deep red and orange mountains and valleys took my breath away.
We then started the drive to Zion with the air condition bringing as much relief as possible from this heat. Unfortunately, as soon as we started going up a hill, the engine was not strong enough and the air condition would stop. Let's just say that when we arrived in Zion at about 4PM we were both sweaty and exhausted, but excited to be there. Zion is also a lot cooler than Valley of Fire and, as the sun was starting to hide behind the mountains surrounding the canyons, we felt a huge relief. Unable to resist getting a first glimpse of the canyon, we both put on our swimsuit under our clothes and headed to a small trail called Lower Emerald Pools, with the intention of going for a swim in the river afterwards.
We took the shuttle and exited at Zion Lodge, crossed the bridge and started walking on the easy path. On the way, we noticed tracks heading to a small beach by the river and called it: if we were to swim in the river today, this would be the perfect spot. A huge boulder hid a small pool from the current and the bottom looked sandy and soft.