On the afternoon of the seventh day of our eight-day motorized raft trip down the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River, Travis cut the motor and said that we could all jump overboard if we wanted to. The last rapid had been run and only tomorrow's journey into placid Lake Mead, created by the Hoover Dam, remained.
(Left: The very last rapids boils over our boat.) Since it was 110 degrees, we all elected to go into the water. We hadn’t been allowed to jump off the boats before this due to the danger the many rapids pose to swimmers and the menace spinning propellers create for people in the water.
I swam around for a short bit, then climbed back into the boat under my own power. It took awhile as I pulled and pushed, vaulted and jumped, and finally flopped into the raft like a beached whale.
Then I saw that Andy, our musical prodigy and the youngest member of our group by some thirty years, was bobbing along in his lifejacket downstream, going with the current. He was moving! Boy, that looked like fun.
(Left: The river stretched out before us, finally tranquil.) Back into the water I jumped. Andy and I went sailing along down the middle of the Colorado River in the swift current for about 25 minutes. We put a good 50 yards on the trailing boat. For a full mile, the towering rocky walls, the little side canyons and the silted beaches went by us in practically a blur as we got a water-bug’s view of the Grand Canyon from a mere eight inches above the surface. Little eddies would catch us and spin us around in full 360s before throwing us out, still heading downstream.
(Right: Guy in the river.) Travis was keeping a tolerant but watchful eye on us. Then we started to get cold, so we swam towards the shore to get out of the current and when the boat caught up and went by us, we swam back into the current and allowed it to sweep us by the boat. We reached out to our mates on the boat and strong hands grabbed our life jackets and hauled us back into the boat. There was no getting into the boat on my own this time because I was exhausted from my stay in the swift, deep river.
(Left: Grand Canyon flora.) It was the coolest mile that I ever traversed in my life, scudding downriver in the cool water amidst all that towering beauty shimmering above us in the heat, a riotous multitude of soaring reddish-brown hues. That mile floating downstream was the best little moment I had on our incredible trip down the Grand Canyon.
Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream