The Top of a Raft Guide’s Bucket List

Bass Camp Hike

The crew, Bass Camp Hike

The Grand Canyon is on the top of a most raft guide’s bucket list. There is something magical there that has created endless stories, folklore, memories, videos and photos that guides throughout the world have heard about. These stories are passed down from generation to generation of boaters. The power of this phenomenon is effortless. After one trip, you will talk. You too, will want to share its story.

Almost five million tourists visit Grand Canyon National Park yearly. Of those, roughly 25,000 will see it via the Colorado River. That equals .005% of the total of Grand Canyon visitors. And when you break that percentage down into private trips versus commercial trips, well keep counting those zeros. So few get a chance to see one of the great wonders of the world for 16-22 days from such a stunning view.

I’ve been lucky enough to be on two private trips on the Grand. My most recent, was easily the best vacation I’ve ever experienced. I’ve tried to write this blog a million different ways, but then I read back the correspondence from my last trip and I feel like the words are already written. It’s just my job to share. Below are direct quotes from emails and Facebook messages from folks on our trip in July/ August 2012:

“Withdrawal is setting in. I’m wearing shorts and a bikini top as I write this. Wearing clothing on Monday may put me over the edge. I looked up the ole USGS hydrogrpah for the 16 days of our trip and it turns out Hermit Rapid was the biggest day! Check it out”


“Withdrawal is indeed setting in. Waking up to the glow of the morning sun reflecting off the monstrous house next door to us didn’t have the same effect as waking up to the glow on those canyon walls. Ironically, I am also missing that morning coffee call of the blaster. My little Zen chimes that I try to wake up to in ‘normal’ life no longer seem to have their same effect either. However, I have managed to sleep through an entire night without getting up to pee in the river, see how beached our once floating bed is, contemplating the solution, realizing its too late, and then crawling back onto my slightly slanted and no longer floating raft bed… (Much needed). As this ‘so called life’ resumes with its dates and times and appointments and decisions about what to eat and wear, the reality of what we just did sinks in even deeper. What a wonderful trip and a wonderful life!

Thanks everyone for all the smiles and laughter, and in the words of Heidi … ‘for being AMAZING!’”


“I don’t think I realized the effect of that trip on my psyche until I walked into my new job for a brief orientation. I suddenly felt like a human Zen center in the office. I had no idea I was that relaxed. Ah! Don’t let me forget that feeling is possible. I also have been routinely forgetting that clocks exist. I keep staring at the sky and asking Dan what time he thinks it is- at which point he checks the clock and I remember that I too, have access to time keeping devices now. Alas!”


“Ah yes, the sadness set in when we drove into South Lake… Thanks everyone for one of the best experiences of my life. In spite of the mundane return to civilization I’ve just uploaded my first video. So for those who have the time to reflect on our trip and see what Tapeats creek was like to kayak enjoy the link. More videos on the way…

Miss you all already.”


“ooohh mannnn… how I’d love to be back on that ol’ grand canyon with all you fine folks! Thank you so much to all of you for a trip of a lifetime. What a wonderful experience!! I’m stoked to see all of the pictures and videos… and relive a little of it.”


Colorado River, Grand Canyon

Colorado River

So there it is, a story I had to share, because you see, one of my closest friends and co-workers is sitting on a raft enjoying that view as I write. And another crew of ACE guides and staff just got back not too long ago and their photos looked AMAZING. And another good friend and ACE Gauley guide is about to launch next week… And well, I find myself day dreaming of that magical place. Yes, with a little jealousy, but more because anyone that has been down once, wants to go back. And by you going, a piece of me gets to go back too.  Enjoy a trip of a lifetime friends and I can’t wait for you to share your Grand Canyon stories too.

What else is on the top of a raft guide’s bucket list?

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