At some point in 2004, I came up with the brilliant idea to take my oldest daughter on a father/daughter adventure for her 16th birthday the following year. Sounds like a great idea, right? Well, my suggestion is to hold that off until the 21st birthday. Dads and daughters sometimes have communications issues during the mid-teen years. Despite all that, the trip we took turned out to be incredible.
We spent a week rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
Floating the river in the sun with the huge cliffs soaring overhead. Taking hikes into side canyons and into mysterious alcoves of crisp air and cool water. Sleeping under the stars with no light noise to drown out the Milky Way. It was seven days of pure adventure.
The picture you see in this blog is one I took from the very ledge where I spent the first night with the river rushing by mere inches away. Basically, I’m urban bred. I grew up in the city and did very little camping that didn’t involve a tent in my back yard. As a result, as I bedded down on that slanted rock surface with another section of rock acting as my roof, I was a tad nervous. Would I accidentally roll over and end up in the river at 4 A.M.? Would a scorpion crawl across my face at 2 A.M.? I remember asking myself, “What have I gotten myself into?”
As you look at the picture, notice there is a very narrow ledge that runs along the rock face on the left. That is actually a trail. We traversed that trail before dinner (which was grilled salmon, by the way). Basically, it’s just wide enough for your feet. One misstep and you’re in the river, which, as you can see, was angrily roiling by at quite a rate of speed. After you follow the tiny, miniscule trail to where it goes out of sight on the left, you come to a hole in the stone, where you have to carefully drop through (then crawl back up through on the return) before continuing into one of the side canyons.
Each day, we had another similar adventure and by the end of the week, I was tired, but I was also acclimated. I’d do it again.
At the end of the week, we were only halfway through the canyon. They let my daughter and I out at the Bright Angel Trail so that we could loft our packs on our backs and hike the seven miles up to the South Rim—another all-day adventure in itself.
Like I said, I’d do it again. Next time, I want to take my wife. This would be right up her alley.
If you are interested, check out Arizona Raft Adventures – They are a magnificent group of people who put on a stellar touring program. They have a variety of boat styles and trip lengths to choose from. We chose a classic adventure which features one paddle boat and four or five oar-driven boats. They also have motor trips (too fast, in my opinion) where you can cover the full canyon in one week. The Arizona Raft Adventures tour guides cook a hot breakfast and a hot dinner each morning and evening. Good stuff, too. We had salmon, we had steak. We had eggs and bacon. Right there on the riverbank. They even brought along a birthday cake to celebrate my teenager’s 16th birthday in the middle of the trip. I can’t recommend them enough. They know what they’re doing.
So, the next time someone tells you to “Take a hike!” – I’ve got a great destination for you to consider.
Michael DeCamp is a husband, father, uncle, son, and brother. He built a career in industrial sales while maintaining an spiritual life in pursuit of a love for God. He has published one fantasy thriller and one devotional book. (There are more on the way.) He also produces a podcast (The Cutters Notch Podcast) that provides new episode approximately twice per month.