In December of 2012 I was fortunate enough to be invited on a 10 day self support kayaking trip down the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River. What is self support? Some/most trips down the canyon include large sized inflatable rafts to carry their equipment for camping and all their good food, like real eggs and bacon. Self support kayaking does not include rafts and if you had bacon on day 10 I might question it and I never question bacon. Instead you jam everything you might “need” into your kayak, your buddies do the same, and you head on down the river. What is the difference between jelly and jam again?
One of the best parts of this river is its “Big Water” characteristics and feel. This is something generally different from the other whitewater attractions in the US. It has a big water feel while remaining pretty class IV. There is the occasional mile long undercut wall or the random sieve pile at the end of a rapid. Generally you would need a real stroke of luck to be in those hazards which makes me stave away from class V. Remember however you are still on a 10 day 200+ mile trip, given that something did happen.
I have been referencing class IV or V but the Grand Canyon works on a completely different scale. The desert big water scale ranges from 1 to 10. On my first trip down with rafts in 2009 we scouted all class 7 and above. On this kayaking trip we did not scout any rapids, we did however have some really great verbal beta from Ted our friendly Grand Canyon guide. The trip was spectacular, we made around 30 miles per day, saw a handful of other groups and even got to lay over camp with one of them. Since it was difficult enough to carry the necessities we failed to bring enough alcohol on the trip. Thankfully we were able to acquire some along the way. THANKS FOLKS
The trip went with out a hitch. The most epic almost bad moment was myself awakening by some abnormal sound. The sound was all of our gear floating in an eddy as the water had almost risen all the way to our sleeping bags. This was a stroke of luck that it did not turn into an epic as everything was retrieved The most epic positive moment would have to be catching a fish with my bare hands, it tasted great. I love the Grand Canyon it is a very beautiful, unique and exciting place.
Every time I go I am changed, I am excited to see what changes come next.