Grand Canyon Rafting Trip: Planning and Preparation

Two years ago I got the idea to go rafting in the Grand Canyon when I saw a friend’s post on Facebook. Soon after, I had one of my “I have an idea” conversations with Tim and suggested we go. I usually save these “ideas” for a Friday night over a bottle of wine 🙂 As usual, “I’m in” was Tim’s response, and a plan was hatched! We booked the trip for a year later in late July, 2021, a perfect adventure to celebrate my 50th birthday.

Next was the matter of the kids. Between our 4 kids, they cover the entire spectrum from super adventurous to “keep me in the air conditioning”. That said, Tim and I decided we would all go, that getting a little uncomfortable was good for all of us. We picked a 7 day motorized raft trip with Arizona River Runners where we would cover the entirety of the canyon on the Colorado River, 187 miles. The motorized raft meant we wouldn’t have to paddle, and wouldn’t have to hike in or out of the canyon. It would allow us to see nearly the full canyon and have enough time for several side hikes. This seemed to suit us well so we booked it and spent a year planning and anticipating the trip.

With Ryan now living in Colorado and Ben in Southern IL, we hadn’t seen them in 6 months and were excited to be back together, headed off on this new adventure. We boarded our flights and headed to Las Vegas where we would spend a day and a half before heading off to the river early the following morning. It was blazing hot in Vegas and we killed time on the strip. By the evening, Ben wasn’t feeling well. In the night he had a full blown fever. We spent the next day getting Covid tests and were devastated to learn that Ben was positive. I made the sad call to ARR letting them know we wouldn’t be joining them the next day.

Thankfully, we bought the trip insurance. Pro Tip: BUY THE TRIP INSURANCE!! We got our money back and rebooked for 2022. Ryan, Tim and I all got Covid too. Sadly, I spent my 50th birthday with Covid instead of out on the river in the Grand Canyon. As sad as we were, we knew these are first world problems and our adventure vacation would come another day.

Fast forward to a year later, we were once again carefully packing and planning for our trip. Packing for a trip like this is very specific, and for an over-packer like me… a challenge. We had a strict weight limit of 25 lbs. I questioned my judgment of why we would choose to go into the Grand Canyon in late July where we were certainly going to be in 100+ degree temps. Katie, Nathan and I are all fair skinned and sunburn prone. Katie has a tendency to overheat and faint. ARR assured that the river was what would keep us cool and they knew how to deal with the heat. We would be on the river, hiking, and camping. Clothes would be reworn and dirty, pants, sunshirts and hats were needed for sun protection. We needed rain gear because even though the temps were hot, the river was cold, ~50-55 degrees, and morning rapids could feel cool. Their motto for packing was: “it is better to have and not need, than to need and not have”. I subscribe to this way of packing 1000% but put a weight limit on me and well… I stress.

Here is what I ended up packing, with a few adjustments:

The big day finally came, all of us holding our breath that we remained healthy while each secretly questioning every little tickle in our throat in the days leading up to it. We landed in Vegas, shared a fun birthday celebration with my Dad and Debbie, and prepared to head out!

50th Birthday Celebration…. take 2!

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