At the end of 2019, I found myself in Tennessee visiting with friends from the Continental Divide Trail. They had just returned from a 23-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River; their stoke level at an all-time high.
“It was incredible. You have to get out there. It takes people years to get a permit. You should start applying now because it’s a weighted lottery based on the number of years you’ve tried (and presumably failed) to get a permit. You should apply for a permit in the winter because they’re easier to get then.” They told me.
I mostly forgot about their suggestion until June of 2020, when I found myself looking for ways to fill the days of COVID lockdown. Remembering what I was told, I created an account with the Grand Canyon, logged in, and applied for permits in December – of 2021. Then, I mostly forgot about the trip once more.
Fast forward to later in the year, October 2020, I get an email with the subject line “You have won a Grand Canyon River Launch Date”. Oh. Oh, really now.
I receive this email at 15:36 on Thursday, October 29, 2020. The instructions in the email direct me to “pay [my] river trip deposit before 12:00 PM (noon) Mountain Standard Time on Friday, October 30, 2020.” The river trip deposit? $400. Seriously, Grand Canyon? I have less than 24 hours to make this decision? What if I was on a backpacking trip without reception? What if I was working a 24-hour shift somewhere? What if I was just taking a really long poop?
Somewhere between panicked and excited, I call my friends who originally suggested I apply for the permit and ask, “I pay this deposit, right?”
I entered my credit card information and filed away the trip’s distant launch date. The time has come that the launch date has shifted from distant to impending.
The trip can accommodate up to 16 people (myself included), and I’m told that we want no more than three people per boat (including the rower). That means we need at least five people capable of rowing if we want to fill up the trip.
Do we want to fill up the trip? Honestly, I don’t know. We’re planning for 29 days on the water; ideally, we all get along fabulously. Certainly not trying to invite a bunch of randoms just for the sake of filling the trip.
Things on the agenda for the next couple of months?
- Take a rowing course (must learn all the things)
- Find an outfitter (a company to provide boats and whatever else we need)
- Research and purchase gear specific to the river (money is overrated)
- Take a swiftwater rescue course (because saving people)
- Find rowers (and possibly fill up the trip?)
- Make an itinerary for the 29-day trip (basically the opposite of a thru-hike)
- Probably complete a lot of logistical things I haven’t even thought of (can’t wait)
I’ll be sure to update with each step of the trip since “Zero to Grand Canyon” doesn’t appear to be the typical progression of rowers.
Been on a trip? Have suggestions? Next steps? Any idea of what I can expect? Drop a comment and let me know!