This will be my last post about our incredible 6-day rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. Last week, I ended with our Toga Party and steak dinner. Next week, I’ll return to more horse-related content. But first, let me describe our last day, including our final “10” rapid, Lava Falls.
We spent our last night in camp near Mile Marker 176. These camp photos were taken around 5:15 AM! There are few things more beautiful than the sun rising in the Grand Canyon. Although Alan set up our tent, we slept under the stars on our not-very-comfortable cots. The first part of the video shows everyone gathering at the boats for one last fire line loading opportunity.
Nine people in front for Lava Falls!
We were on the boats by 7 AM and headed towards Lava Falls at Mile Marker 179. In the video, you will hear our boat captain Daniel describe the “best way to get through Lava Falls.” His suggestion is that we have “9 people on the front of the boat!” He was kidding… but the message was that we had one more opportunity to ride the rapids in the most vulnerable and chilly location on the pontoon. Alan and I heard his message and moved to the second and last rows of the right side.
As I have mentioned before, Alan wore the GoPro on a shoulder harness. At Lava Falls, it was on his right shoulder. I was seated right behind him. It is necessary to straddle the pontoon, and there are ropes to grab both in front and behind you. When you see water hit the camera in the video, it was hitting me in the face as well, even though I was hunkered behind Alan’s back!
Because of Daniel’s incredible boatmanship, we had a thrilling but uneventful trip through Lava Falls. Soon after navigating the rapids, we stopped for one more “smile break” before landing at the helicopter pickup point.
A helicopter ride out of the canyon
Although we were at the end of our trip, our crew was not. As the helicopter flew in to retrieve us, it was also bringing in passengers who would board our boats and embark upon a 3-day trip on down the river. Our four guys had to greet a new batch of folks with a “first day” mentality, even though they had been working very hard for six days already.
We were instructed to remove everything from our day bags and leave our sheets and sleeping bags in our large bags. The guys changed them out prior to the next group’s use. We said our goodbyes to our awesome guides, and to fellow passengers that had become like family.
There was a nice young guy processing everyone for their turn in the helicopter. We were called up in groups of 5 or 6, weighed, and our bags were weighed. We were then assigned a seat in the helicopter based on even weight distribution. I filmed the helicopter taking off with one of the first groups.
Of course, we were all very anxious to get to Bar 10 Ranch and enjoy a hot shower. But we needed to wait our turn. Our “special lady” had the most trouble with waiting, and chatted up the young man in hopes of moving up in the line. When he wasn’t looking, she checked his roster. All I know is that Alan and I had showered already by the time she showed up at the ranch…
Alan shot some video with the GoPro… hence you are subjected to a brief view of my back end boarding the helicopter. I should have cut that out, but I struggled mightily creating the video this week. I had a glitch in the program that I finally learned required a hotfix from the software company. By the time I got the audio glitch fixed, I had no enthusiasm for any more editing, so sorry…!
The video I shot from the helicopter using my phone is amazing footage of the canyon from above. Sadly, there is a great deal of reflection from the window overlaying the video. However, the scenery was too good to omit. Our helicopter ride was brief, lasting only 10-15 minutes before we landed at Bar 10 Ranch.
Bar 10 Ranch
Can I just say that I’m not sure a shower ever felt so good as the one we took at Bar 10 Ranch? A hot shower with a clean body and clean hair… amazing! After cleaning up, we were treated to a deli sandwich lunch. The website for the Ranch states:
We are the perfect beginning and ending point for many river rafting experiences on the Colorado River…
In addition to being the starting and stopping point for river rafting, the ranch offers many amenities of their own. You can arrange horseback or ATV rides, helicopter tours, or hikes. One of their cowboys will teach you how to throw a rope or rope a steer! The ranch is a fun destination in and of itself.
When we first disembarked the helicopter at the ranch, we were once again weighed (along with our luggage) for our next leg of the return trip in a small plane. While waiting for that flight, we thoroughly enjoyed our leisurely lunch in our clean clothes.
Our return trip was happily uneventful and we arrived at the small airport in Las Vegas. For the final leg of our journey, we were bussed back to the Marriott. Our hotel was about a half-mile away from the Marriott. Although we had showered at the Bar 10 Ranch, we showered again! We turned on the news to catch up on what had happened in the world over the past week.
Here is the last video of this amazing trip. I intend to combine the videos I created for each day into one long memory. This trip is not for everyone. We don’t plan to do it again… once was enough. (Not to mention the fact that we are unlikely to be able to recreate the nearly perfect weather and water conditions that we enjoyed.)
But it absolutely was a “bucket list” experience and something we will always remember… with or without videos to prompt our memories. I hope, if you are considering booking this adventure, that my blog posts have provided some insight into what you might experience.
Next week, back to horse-related content! I’ll be telling you about our aborted attempt to ride to Bluebird Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. See you next week!