June 1996

Most of the pictures expand when clicked on

The 6 day trip starts at Lee's Ferry and ends at Whitmore Wash where a helicopter picks you up and flies you to a ranch for a plane flight back to Las Vegas.  

In between you cover 200 miles of wilderness, run the biggest whitewater in North America, camp in unbelievably beautiful places, and have truly the adventure of a lifetime.  

Starting out a Lee's Ferry.  You see the Western Rivers 30' J Rig raft in the background.  You come to appreciate the design of this raft as the trip continues especially compared to rafts used by other outfitters.
Starting down river the highway bridge is the last sign of civilization until you come to Phantom Ranch 

You hit some pretty good sized rapids right away.  At least you think they are good sized rapids.  Actually some at 7s on the class 10 system but the class 10s, Crystal, Lava, and Hermit are something to behold.
The first night of camping.  It is strange sleeping in the open with a bunch of people you don't know.  Some camps allowed you to spread out, others packed you in a bit.  As you see we slept on cots.  It was very comfortable with no insects at all.

The trip is filed with hikes up side canyons to beautiful, magical grottos.  The hikes are not always easy as you can see.

On the second day we passed Vasey's Paradise an interesting place with waterfalls coming out of the cliffs.  Camped across from the Little Colorado.  We hiked upstream and floated downstream on our life jackets.  Lots of fun.

The meals cooked by the guides were outstanding.

The guides also clean up.  It's a full service trip.
The question of bathrooms always comes up and seems to be a stumbling block for some people.  Here's the bathroom, an aluminum box with a toilet seat on top behind whatever bushes can be found.  You take a sign in with you so others know the box is occupied. 

The next day we hit some big rapids then took a hike up Clear Creek to this grotto.  You climbed up the back and jumped out the front.  It was a grand place.

I took a hike and took this picture looking down on our camp below.  It was very pretty up on the plateau as you can see from the panoramic picture below.  You wonder how often, if ever, humans and set foot in some of the canyons.

On the fourth day you hit the the big rapids, Specter, Hance, Hermit, Granite, and CRYSTAl.  After Crystal you have an ABC party, Alive Below Crystal.  Anyway, it's hard to capture what it's like riding the pontoons through the big rapids other than to say it will be the most exciting thing you have ever done in your life.
As you see you sit in three rows of three on the pontoons.  The person in front takes the big hit.  We had some college aged guys up front but I wanted to try it once.  The wave blasts you right out of your seat and all you can do is hang onto the ropes or you go overboard.  Once was enough.  On most of the big rapids Peggi sat in the middle position 
Unfortunately, I'll always remember the hike up this canyon.  I dislocated my right shoulder on the hike and had no choice but to finish the climb.
Stopped at Havasu Creek, and absolutely beautiful place.  A panoramic view is below.

That night you have a toga party.  The guides dress in formal shirts and shorts and everyone drinks champagne and eat shrimp.   

This pictures says a lot.  I'm smiling but my shoulder is dislocated and I can't move my right arm.  I just stuck a glass in the paralyzed arm for some reason.  In fact you can see the arm is oddly positioned and the shoulder strangely slumps.  
At the end of the trip a helicopter descends into the canyon and picks you up and flies you to a ranch to catch a small plane back to Las Vegas.  
This is a ranch airport. The sign says Whitmore International Airport, North Terminal, Gate A.  You can still see my oddly formed shoulder and strangely long arm.  I must hold the record for the greatest variety of transportation modes to get to the hospital, on foot, whitewater raft, helicopter, plane, bus, and car.  I was glad to get to the hospital as 30 hours with a dislocated shoulder was no picnic.  
After a long evening in the hospital and a short night in bed, we drove to Long Beach and stayed on the Queen Mary.  It was an unusual hotel.
We had a very nice dinner on the ship and enjoyed the view of Long Beach.  The next day we caught the ferry to Catalina Island for a 2 night stay.  We spent most of the following day on a bus tour of the island.  As you can see below it is a lovely place.

Back to San Diego for a couple of days.  Went to the Zoo, the Spanish Arts Center, and Heritage Park to see some Victorian houses.  Just like home.
Had to go to the beach.  Notice the normal looking right shoulder.  
We ended the trip with a drive through the desert to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park before driving to Las Vegas.  The drive from Palm Springs to Las Vegas was through some incredibly desolate countryside.