April 6th, 2011 5:58pm
I just got back from a rafting trip down the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon. This was my third trip and, as always, there were some great surprises. The first time everything was new; the second time, it was still "new" but not unexpected. This time, the adventure was completely unexpected.
The first week was full of inclement weather - it rained and was SUPER windy. It damned near blew us back up river it was so windy. The rain was a pain too! There's a saying that rain only sucks until you're wet. That's not entirely true - rain sucks until you're wet then it reinforces the suckiness. We finally made it to Phantom Ranch to swap 8 for 8. What this means is that 8 of our original group hiked up while 8 new people hiked down to join us.
THEN, the adventure began! That first day went smoothly - we made our way to Granite camp (which is pretty much always available) and were able to get the newbies orientated. The next day, not 3 miles into the river, we got to Hermit rapid. Hermit is rated an VIII on the "Colorado scale". The normal rating scale is a I-V, but because of the variabliity of the Colorado, they rate things from I-X. Anyway, Hermit is an VIII. This is a big rapid with a long train of hydrolics. The last of them is known to flip large boats in flows of 17,000+. We were floating at 19,000.
To make a long story short we surmised that the only safe route was to ride the train and hope the last hydrolic didn't grow too big.
I hit it perfectly and rode all of the swells until the last one - somehow it decided to double it's size JUST as I got there, flipping our 18' boat the long way! The boat came down on top of me and pushed me into the water. When I came up the water was so turbulent that it was far calmer to be under, so that's what I did. I submerged as best I could until we were out of the big water.
Anyway, the rest, as they say, is history. We righted the boat and continued on with our adventure. I have another saying - the difference between an adventure and a disaster is that you come home from a disaster.
I slept pretty well once home.