There are no two Grand Canyon trips alike. Whether on the river for six days or three weeks….few people experience the Grand Canyon without going home with dreams about the next time to get back — whether possibly as soon as the following year, or many years later. This summer two separate groups hit the Canyon—both trips included good friends—but more importantly, their own kids!!
These special trips included quite the crew of kids. The youngest of the kids, Jesse, at 10 years old and the oldest, Evan at 25. There were two sets of twins, two father-son teams, and two brother and sister teams. These were truly trips that typified the dream Grand Canyon trip: sharing one of the most amazing places in the world with the most special people in your life—your kids.
Does bringing your kids along change the dynamics of a trip? Imagine that rather than beer rafts, there is a “library raft” carrying homework assignments, school books and Kindles full of books to read; at the same time that the kitchen and groovers need to be set up, so do kids need to be settled in, sun screened, hydrated, fed, encouraged to write in journals and eventually put to bed…
Rarely do any of us have the opportunity to see such an amazing place from the perspective of young people—so let’s see what these young guns have to say about their trips!
How many times during a Grand Canyon trip would anyone talk about his or her favorite homework spot on the river!? Here are some of the favorites of this crew:
Jessie’s favorite spot to do homework was reading on the raft. For her twin sister Lily, it was when she settled in to do focus on homework– preferably in a lawn chair in a shady spot at camp. Our second set of twins– Cole & Carmen, agreed that their favorite spot to do homework was on the “library raft” with BR (aka: Billy Richards), and in camp where they would find any rock or chair…. Rye and Copper did not have to do homework during his trip, but their favorite spot off the river was sitting on a ledge, overlooking the kitchen at Randy’s Rock Camp. For Rye’s sister Callie, Poncho’s Kitchen Camp was definitely her favorite spot to read. Oli sat down one night to write in his journal that he found “more big horn sheep. I got to look at them with the binoculars. Later I started to row the raft. I got so sweaty I had to jump in. after I jumped in I felt cold water run up my nose and I got a brain freeze and was very cold. Later we stopped at a spot called the Book of Worms. It is a book that was written by worms.”
Whether it was because of missing school or heading back into the new school year, homework assignments/reading were a prerequisite to being able to go on these trips!
For Rye and Callie, their favorite book to read was “Grand Canyon” (and the next day’s river map with Stevie Liebig) and it was cool because they both had Kindle’s along to read –and especially Callie read a couple books before the trip was over. The Monkey Wrench Gang wasCole’s pick as favorite book to read on the Canyon (and future book report material). Jessie’s favorite assignment was doing her daily trip journal (included drawling and a daily recap). Carmen’s favorite book was The Secret Life Of Bee’s. Carmen also loved drawing for her journal. And for Lily, it was reading the book: The Penderwicks (a summer tale about four sisters, two rabbits and a very interesting boy). For Oli, it was learning some archeology in front of the Anasazi handprint.
For this group of young kayakers, the biggest rapid they had seen to date was Nantahala Falls on the Nantahala River. So getting on the Grand Canyon at 16,000 cfs +/- was a totally different experience. Everyone has a favorite rapid when they finish the 236 miles of the Canyon…including this gang.
Oli wrote in his journal a great summary of their second day on the river “Today we had lots of fun. We went through lots of rapids. We went through 3 rapids that we had to scout: Hermit, Granite, and Crystal. Hermit was really fun. It had BIG waves and a long wave train. Granite wasn’t as big but it was my favorite rapid so far. Crystal is HUGE. We missed the big hole but it wasn’t as fun. There was a smaller rapid called Saphire and it was the best. Cole and I were bull riding and Cole fell in and I flew backwards It was fun. For Lily it was Horn Creek because it was her first-ever big rapid. For Jessie her favorite rapid was Granite…big waves and really fun! Hermit was another (but she walked it). Rye’s favorite rapid was also Hermit. And Callie’s was Hance …in the words of Stevie Liebig, “A gorgeous rapid with beautiful, rolling waves…” Probably the most memorable rapid on the river goes to Cooperwho fell into and surfed Nankoweep—earning the title “stud.”
And then there is the perspective by a “tweener” – the kid who is no longer a kid, but not quite settled into the next phase of his life. That would be Evan!
So Evan – what was your favorite part of the trip?
One of my favorite parts of the trip (and there were many) was the night sky. Never before had I been able to see the Milky Way so clearly and never had I seen so many stars. Sleeping under the night’s sky is one of the coolest things I think I have ever done and in just one night I saw more shooting stars than I had seen in my entire life.
Graduating from college…trying to figure out what to do next…did the Canyon prove therapeutic for you?
My family waited about twelve years—which is about half of my lifetime, to be able to go, so of course it was a much anticipated and terribly meaningful trip that completely lived up to my expectations and will never be forgotten. For me the Grand Canyon was an eye-opening experience that provided the perfect medium for a soul-seeking adventure. Nothing could have been better than spending 16 days in a kayak surrounded by breathtaking scenery and amazingly colorful walls of stone as far as the eye can see. Such an amazing place! The long flat water stretches between epic whitewater runs allowed for a substantial amount of quiet contemplation and admiration for such a special place.
What was it like seeing young people having to do homework while on the Grand?
It was interesting having the kids on the trip because for everyone else, the trip was pretty much a temporary escape from the real world. Aside from reading books for pleasure and maps for necessity, the majority of the group had no connection with the outside world during the whole trip. The kids, however, had it completely opposite. Since it was September and school was back in session, they were required to complete homework assignments every day.
Looking back on the trip, Evan, if you were a teacher and had some students heading to the Canyon, what would your homework assignment for them be?
To write in their journal about what they did each day, how many miles they traveled on the river and describing the size of these rapids, drawing sketches and taking pictures of what they saw, and explain what the Grand Canyon meant to them. And then to return and present and share all this with their classmates and make a fun, engaging activity of it all.
Good call Evan! From the content of journals and notes shared here, it sounds like just what some of these young guns did! What will be fun is to compare their 2011 journals with the journals they will most likely keep the next time they go on the Canyon!
Thanks to all the adventurous young guns:Oli, Cooper, Rye, Callie, Jesse, Lilly, Cole, Carmen, and Evan for sharing with us!