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Ode to Rafting the Grand Canyon

            Rafting the Grand Canyon is the best experience. No really, if I suggest one thing for you to do in your entire life, it is: raft the Grand Canyon. From motor trips to oars, it is one of the few places of epic majesty that can be experienced. The feeling of stepping into another world, one of beauty, calming sounds, luxury and wilderness, is unparalleled. The canyon walls rise over you to only the first level of the Grand Staircase and the silence that is unique to the Grand Canyon nearly envelopes you. Enhancing this silence is the soft rush and whirl of the river, the soothing sound of conversations and the river guides’ tall tales. The hum of a motor or oar perhaps intermittently, the distant roar of a rapid.

They rise in caps of white to a scale unique to the Colorado River, for there is no whitewater like it in the world. Each rapid has a common v shaped entrance; however, each is unique in its size and shape from the giants of Horn Creek, Hermit, Crystal, and Lava to the roaring twenties to the heart-stopping hurtle toward Bedrock. They provide the exhilaration of a risky obstacle and the joy of a roller coaster to break up the flat surfaces in between. Coming out of each rapid leaves you a little wetter and thus cooler in the scorching desert heat. You feel alive and appreciative of the contrasting temperatures, ready to bask in the sun until, just as you begin to feel the heat, you delve into the land of waves again. The walls slide by, and you can cool a soda in the river or enjoy a snack out of a camping cup.

Each rapid has a potential side canyon to explore, and in each of these, paradise lost is now found. The smell of water in the desert comes to surround you, and you feel the call of adventure with each twist and turn of the side canyons. You come across unexpected waterfalls, scale over cascades with newfound canyoneering skills, and wind into hidden grottos. The warmth of the tributaries gives you a glimpse into the canyon’s nature before the dams. The soft greens and darting fish are the most uncanny of items to find in the desert canyon.

Springs with feathery ferns and dripping mosses provide water drinkable and safe as so few places in the world are. They give the barest misting trickle or thundering roars as the water emerges from hidden aqueducts. They are the fountains of life in this place, and everything around them shouts of the joy in living. You gain the gratification and feeling of accomplishment of hiking to find such hidden, treasured oases. They give an epic sense of wonder in a land filled with magical sights.

The effort increase the taste, guiltlessness, and satisfaction of the food you have making it the best in the world. The dawns and dusks of the canyon illuminate the walls in alpenglow, bringing the fullest show of light and shadow that can be seen on earth. The brilliant colors of the walls are reflected in the scintillating water below as they run straight into the stark lines of darkest obscurity.

Stories around the flashlight-fires range from the interesting people that are drawn from the entire world to the legends and histories of the Canyon. The stars most often wheel over you in a narrow strip, shaped as the milky way by the walls of the canyon. So far from lights of any kind, you come to find how many stars there really are in the sky. They seem enough to read by, and they slowly wheel over you to highlight the constellations. Sleep comes easily on the narrow sands of river beaches, and the anticipation of the next day of wonder gives peace unparalleled.