When my friend, Judy Poe, offered me two seats on a rafting trip down the Grand Canyon in May 2015, I jumped at the opportunity. Even though I had a whole year to prepare for the trip, the time passed in a flash, and I found myself driving to Lee’s Ferry where my husband and I would launch.
The trip was organized through AZRA (Arizona Rafting Adventures), which did a top-notch job, but what made it special was that is was centered around the Klema family from Durango. Father Tom has been a river rafter his whole life; mother, Barbara, an incredible artist and outdoors woman; Matt and brother Nate are extreme adventurers – at least in my mind – having broken the record for making it through the Canyon in kayaks; sisters Julia and Mariah, are equally adventurous, with Julia serving as one of the oars women as well.
The Klemas and 21 other clients took off in six rafts with all our gear, kitchen and food for two weeks. If you want a challenge in organization, just try that! Two other AZRA long-time guides – Kim and Somer – also joined us for the trip.
I was so gung-ho about this trip that I read every book I could find on the topic. One was “The Emerald Mile” by Kevin Fedarko, who also came to speak at our library. I loved his book, but I was also made aware of some of the challenges we would face in the Canyon, namely, Lava Falls, with its 20 foot waves!
We took our fishing rods, but discovered that it was all the guides could do to get us down the river and through the rapids without also trying to get us over to the banks or other “fishy” spots. We tried casting a line in a side stream for part of a day, but didn’t see a fish on this trip. No worries, we have another adventure trip in the Bob Marshall Wilderness area in August.
I could write a book about the two weeks we spent on the river. From temperature changes, to the geology, to the people, to how pristine the Canyon had been kept, to the hikes, the music, the rapids… oh yes, the rapids. I can’t believe I made it through the rapids. I loved the trip but I also realized how much a love my gentle river rafting trips that allow me to fish for mountain trout. Each to his own.