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Grand Canyon FAQs

Bottom line -- what do I need to know as I consider this trip?
This is a land of extremes.  Extreme beauty, extreme heat, extreme cold (if you're wet and in the shade), extreme pleasure, extreme exertion, extreme friendships formed, extreme impact of being outdoors 24 hours a day for 14 days, extreme relaxation.  Oh, and sand in everything.
If you wonder about bringing a child – sorry, not this trip.  This trip is best suited for adults – college-aged and above. 

And it costs HOW much?
A non-refundable deposit of $1,000 holds your spot – nothing else gets you on the list. 
But even if the trip fills before you call, do put yourself on the waiting list.  We almost always have a cancellation or two before the trip goes – and that’s the list we’ll go to.
Call Susan Brickell at 719-389-6058 with your deposit.

What does my trip fee pay for?
Most everything from the time you arrive in Las Vegas or Marble Canyon.  All meals, beginning with dinner on the night of July 31, through breakfast August 14.  Tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads.  Waterproof bags for your gear on the boats.  You will need to bring a minimum $400 cash per participant for a tip for the crew and a bit of additional cash for airport meals, liquor purchases with dinner on July 31 (and if you wait to buy your beer or wine at Marble Canyon - - more on that later) and to send a postcard or buy a knick-knack at Phantom Ranch.

How long, exactly, will I be gone?
Plan to arrive in Marble Canyon, AZ on July 31.  You will either fly into Las Vegas by noon and get the company shuttle, or drive to Marble Canyon in time to arrive at 5 p.m.  We meet that evening, transfer our personal gear to the waterproof bags that will be provided, and put on the river the morning of August 1.  We take off the river around noon on the 14th and head for home (if you drove, your car will be at the take-out – if you flew, we’ll get back on a shuttle and get to the airport in time for 4 p.m. flights).  Details on all that will come to those who sign up for the trip.

What is a typical day?
Up at dawn, as soon as the "Hot coffee" call goes out.  Get a cup of coffee, tea, cocoa and start getting your gear together.  Breakfast (BIG breakfast with a variety of breakfast meats, eggs or french toast or pancakes, fresh fruit, cereal) and get the briefing on what the day will bring from the head boatman.
Finish packing up and get bags, tents to the boats for loading.  Everyone pitches in to get the camp gear ready for the boatmen to lash to the boats.
ON THE RIVER!  Some days have small rapids, some big rapids, all have ever-changing scenery as we drop further into the geologic timetable - the cliffs quickly rise above us.  Boatmen will point out changes in the geology, spot wildlife (desert bighorn, deer, beaver, great blue herons, maybe we'll see a condor or a golden eagle or peregrine).  As opportunities arise, we will stop to hike a side canyon or two or three. Lunch - fresh meats and cheese and all the fixin’s. Onward for more rapids and hikes.  Then a shady camp (with maybe a hike), clean up, have a beer or other beverage, keep your journal or read a book, or just chat with other boaters and get ready for hors d'oeuvres and a dinner better than you make for yourself at home.  Including lots of Dutch oven deserts.

What about the boats?
4 people will ride on each raft, with a professional guide who does the rowing.  If available, we'll have a dory (google that).  There will be a "shredder" - a two person paddle raft available on certain days (not for the biggest rapids), possibly a rubber ducky (Inflatable kayak).

What about the rapids?
The rapids in Grand Canyon are created by rocks that have come into the river when side canyons have flooded.  Between the rapids, the river is fairly smooth.  Some days there are many rapids in quick succession, other days, fewer rapids - more lounging on the boats.  The big rapids are BIG but all of the rapids require that you hang on tightly.  If, after going through one of the big ones you find yourself saying "what was the big deal?" it means your boatman did a really good job and/or got lucky.

How fit do I need to be -- what are the hikes like?
We will hike a lot! Every side canyon is different as we move through different geologic layers and drop in altitude -- many have streams, pools or waterfalls.  We'll see flowering plants, cottonwood and redbud trees, ferns, cactus and more. And lizards – zillions of lizards.  All the hikes will be on uneven ground -- ranging from river rocks to big boulders that we will scramble over and squeeze between.  The trails with larger gains in elevation will involve large steps up (then down).  Loose small rocks or gravel can be tricky coming downhill.  If you have knee or hip problems or balance issues, some of the hikes will be challenging.  There are only a couple of places with exposure (steep drop-offs), but the guides are there to help people past the narrow spots.  And did I mention it will be hot? But all hikes are optional!  Our trip leader will describe them, and you'll soon get an idea of how your reality matches his description.

Do I need my own tent, sleeping bag, pad?
No, if you wish to use the company's "sleep kit" you will just order one (covered in the cost) but may bring your own if you prefer.

What are the camps like?
We might have a large sandy beach with lots of room to spread out, or, if in a narrow part of the canyon, closer quarters.  Yes, we sleep on the ground, on great sleeping pads.   After we all pitch in to get the boats unloaded, you’ll wander around until you find a spot of your liking – set up your tent (or not) and probably take a bath, change to camp clothes, get your beer into the drag bag to get cold, help set up the chairs in camp and RELAX. 

Can I swim in the river?
If your boat should flip, or if you should get washed out of your boat in a rapid, you WILL “swim” -- until someone can pull you in. The guides will give instructions about what to do if that happens.  But swim for fun?  Maybe in side stream pools, or later in the trip when the water warms up a little bit, you'll want to jump out for a moment.  And, you'll want to dunk yourself, or get your shirt wet before taking off on a noon-time hike.  Since the water coming out of the bottom of Glen Canyon dam is only 46 degrees, it will be a quick dip!  It will warm up into the 50's as we move down stream.  Good news - your beer cools in 7 minutes!

What about bathing?
Good idea!  It's nippy - but do-able, and appreciated by all.  No one wants to watch you, so just find a spot and wash away.  The water is likely to be silty, at least part of the time, but getting the body oil and sweat off feels pretty darned good.

What do I wear while in the boats?
You’ll be sent a detailed “what-to-bring list” -- but be sure your day bag has something for sun protection -- long sleeved shirt, a sarong to cover your legs (or long pants).  The sun really starts to take its tole by afternoon. 
Just as important is your rain suit -- not just for rain, but to hold down evaporation on a cloudy day, or early in the morning when we go through rapids and are in the shade of the cliffs.  You may not believe you can be cold -- but you can get quite chilled in certain circumstances.

OK, then -- what do people wear in camp?
Shorts and shirt -- or a sarong -- or, some women like to wear some kind of loose gauzy skirt/dress (coverup?) kind of thing to stay cool.  I've seen people wear clown noses, harem pants, tuxedo T-shirts or any number of weird things for the "last night" party.

I don’t have someone to bring along OR my spouse/partner doesn’t want to come, what about traveling solo?
Great idea!  We’re not encouraging you to leave your better (or worse) half at home, but just know that a lot of people come solo – and those who left someone at home often report that they had a better time than they would have with a “reluctant” partner in tow.

Yes!  You will BYOB and we’ll get that advice to you in the “what to bring list.”  The company will provide all the lemonade/water you can possible drink.

Why is the deposit so big?
Simple, you should think seriously about whether you really intend to go.  It becomes very difficult to fill late cancellations – so plan on your deposit being non-refundable.  And get travel insurance!

Other questions?
Diane Benninghoff '68
(719) 389-6058


Susan Hyland Brickell '87 P'11
(719) 389-6777