Grand Canyon 2011 – Oct 24: Day 0, Finally at the River
I woke up at 5:30 AM without an alarm clock. After going out for breakfast we all piled our gear in the parking lot to wait for the outfitter to arrive and shuttle us to the river. Some people made a last-minute visit to the drug store across the street to buy sunscreen, hand lotion, sunglasses, postcards. Our ride showed up at 11:00 AM, right on schedule. We loaded gear into the truck, piled into the van and headed up Highway 89 to Lee’s Ferry.
When we arrived at the put-in, the other group with a permit for that day was already there and rigging their boats.
Unloading the gear and rigging the rafts was quite the team-building experience for us. “Rig to flip!” is the mantra. No matter how gentle the river is expected to be, tie everything in as if you will get flipped. While we were rigging the boats, a park ranger carefully inspects our gear to make sure we have all mandatory gear and it is in good shape.
Jay volunteered to load his boat with all of the beer. His boat looks awfully heavily loaded! While I have more whitewater experience than most everyone on the trip, of the 6 oarsmen, I probably have the least experience rowing an 18′ raft. So I took the groover boat. I figure if I flip it, we just get a lot of wet shit. Better than wet food. Made it all fit, but wow, it feels like I’ve got too much gear!
Seems like a great group of people on this trip. Ariel is making friends with Kathleen and Elizabeth already.
After rigging and loading the boats, we moved downstream a few hundred yards and set up camp to prepare for our launch tomorrow. Bryant, the guy from PRO Outfitters, showed us how to set up and use the kitchen gear. Then we all piled back into the van and went a few miles up the road to the restaurant at Marble Canyon Lodge for the last indoor meal for 3 weeks. Kika, Natalia, and Captain Shu are staying there for the night. Seems silly to me at the moment…unless it rains…
My hands and lips are already getting dried out. Glad I bought extra lotion! After dinner we picked work crews. I wanted to be sure everyone was on a team with people they don’t already know. It makes it more enjoyable for everyone. You get to meet new people and if you’re there with a partner, only one of you is busy on a work crew at a time so the other can be packing or unpacking. The only exception seems to be David C, Rod, and Elizabeth, (and Sandie when she joins us later in the trip). They really want to be on the same crew so when they aren’t cooking, they can all go on hikes together. I’m not thrilled with this, but OK. It should be fine. Ariel is with Kevin, Kathleen, and Jay. Dave Shu, Steve and Chris are all on a team. Craig is with Natalia and Kika. I am with Gary and Lucy. Hmm. Should have swapped one on Craig’s team with one on my team. Oh well, it will all work fine.
I bought Ariel a big blue broad-rimmed sun hat at the lodge. Kevin bought dinner for me and Ariel again, just to show his appreciation for all the work I’ve done as trip leader. He knows it’s hard work. (Thanks Kevin!)
The water temperature is 57 degrees instead of the usual 45. Sweet! It’s because they had so much snow this year that they drew a huge amount of water out of the lake. That caused a temperature inversion, so all the warm water on the surface went to the bottom of the lake where they let it out of the dam. The air temp is warm tonight too, about 70 degrees. Amazing! I am finally ready to relax and enjoy the trip. Just need to get my gear organized better in the boat. That may take a few days to get it just right. Tomorrow we head downstream!