Kayaking the Grand Canyon

Steve, A friend and associate of Betsy’s, was on the waiting list for 15 years before his Grand Canyon permit came up recently.  By then many of his original rafting buddies had other priorities and were no longer boating – which was good news for us as we were invited along.  We had kayaked it years before but we hadn’t been kayaking a heck of a lot in the past 5 years, so could we really do it again?

We signed up and then jumped back on the South Fork American river this past winter to get back into boating shape.  Then in early May we loaded up the plane and Betsy, Ney-J and Mikey (a Tuolumne River guide and friend of Belyn’s) flew out to Flagstaff to meet up with the rest of the group. Betsy and I would kayak and act as safety boaters, while everyone else would be on rafts.

Most others drove  to the canyon, and while we were nearing our overflight of the canyon on the way on our three hour flight to Flagstaff we texted Steve’s family of four that was driving.  They were passing through Bakersfield with another 8 or 9 hours to go and they texted back, “Can you see our four middle fingers from there?”.

However you can’t fit kayaks in my plane. Fortunately there is a healthy industry of rental, shuttle and food services for rafters and kayakers, so it was easy to find kayaks to rent for the 16 day trip.

It was an awesome trip, and it turns out (after a wobbly first day in the rental kayaks) that we could kayak the Grand again. I have included more photos than usual for this trip because it is hard to capture all the canyon has to offer in just a few.

Sunset on put-in day
Moonlight on the rim as the moon rises
Mikey and Blythe rowing House rapid
Camping in the canyon – the best
Boatman Ney-J
Our rafts and two kayaks waiting our return from a hike
Ney-J in Red Wall Cavern
Mikey showing us how it’s done
Steve tossing a football in Red Wall cavern
Sometimes its busy, and sometimes its peaceful.
Redbud Canyon
It’s a magical place
The Little Colorado River – warm water, great fun
Lots of smiles on the LCR
Yes, it dropped straight down the river here
Hilltop Anasazi ruins
Clear Creek falls. Nice for a soapless shower.
Rocks. Lots of fantastic, sculpted, fluted rocks in the canyon. You’ll see more.
Look carefully – I’m on the left, Betsy is on the right.
Gene leading the way for the rafters
Ethan getting his mom wet
More rocks
Betsy again
Upper Elves Chasm, after an easy but terribly exposed rock climbing move to get there
Upper upper Elves Chasm.  Easier climbing to get here.
Shinumo Wash
Still more rocks.
Betsy in the natural climbing gym called the “Doll House”
More rocks, but nice rocks
Thunder River, appearing right out of the side of the canyon
Thunder River Falls
The only shade on the hot Tapeats – Matcat loop hike
Morning coffee overlooking camp
Betsy climbing up Matcat canyon
There are a lot of calm, peaceful sections between rapids
Havasu Creek
Confluence of the Colorado and Havasu
Ney-J doing a BIG layout backflip
There were lots of Bighorn Sheep around
Scouting Lava Falls (we all ran it together, so no pics!)
We drank most of the liquor by now, but we still had beer and wine to celebrate our successful runs through Lava Falls
Dry air and rock scrambles take a toll on Betsy’s legs.
Having fun at Pumpkin Springs (warm and muddy, more fun to jump into river)
Gene in the fluted rocks – fun climbing!
Last one of rocks…
The gang at take-out

2 thoughts on “Kayaking the Grand Canyon

  1. Oh wow, that looks unbelievably awesome. What an amazing trip, and a great blog.

    1. Your blog is awesome too! Your photos of Iceland are beautiful. Good luck with your travel list.

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