You are in the midst of your week-long rafting escapade that requires quite some brawn and a lot of preparation. White, foamy rapids gush around and crash into the inflatable body of the raft, spilling inside it. The river, roaring beneath looming cliffs of puce tinges, seems uncontrollable, a force of nature to reckon with, rather than tame. And this is what you do – gliding down the ferocious Colorado River as it claims its centuries-old path in the upper Grand Canyon. Down the stream, its menace wanes, turning into a calm stream, but here it surges with all the force there is, making for a thrilling and unforgettable rafting adventure.
THE GRAND EXPERIENCE
The Grand Canyon National Park covers nearly 2,000 square miles of north-central Arizona. Its gorges, towering rocks and ancient ruins are the stuff of a fascinating geological past that, today, forms one of the world’s most renowned destinations. The canyon features on many lists that tourism mavens assemble regularly – from ’50 places to visit before you die’ to ‘the most affordable family vacation in the US’. It invites hikes and bicycling and mule riding and, of course, rafting that pumps up the adrenaline. Many rafting companies that provide guided tours also offer extensive advice on what to bring, but, of course, they do not pick your gear. You read that you need sturdy, waterproof rucks that can pack up to 25 pounds of personal belongings and trip gear.
You opted for the Hex Wet/Dry Backpack, whose durable waterproof nylon body makes an ideal companion on the water. Its internal dry clothes storage area, padded laptop pocket and insulated front pouch keep your necessities from soaking on the rapids, but offer easy access to them on land.
A single pack, however, is hardly enough for a seven-day, daunting getaway. You need a ruck able to lug what seems like a ton of garments – shorts and shirts when the sun beams on with a sweltering might and blazers and pants when temperatures dip at night or rain splashes down. Arcteryx Carrier Duffel, which comes in 40L or 55L, can do all the hard schlepping. Constructed using an advanced composite technique, it boasts sealed seams and ripstop fabric that offer unmatched water resistance. Meanwhile, the grab handles and the adjustable shoulder straps make this boulder of a pack exceptionally easy to carry.
EXPLORING THE CANYON
As you speed down the whitewater currents, with your possessions secured, your mind, quite naturally, churns to comprehend the majestic environs that infuse life with a sense of connectedness to the river and the eons it has already washed away. It is a grand experience by all means – one that puts trust in an environment that harbors more secrets than you will ever grasp, one that obliterates the vanities of modern living, at least for a week, and one that comes back to you to snatch you into reveries in the middle of the work day.
While the river molds most of the rafting outing, as it should, short hikes reveal a whole another universe of details, textures and, well, ordeals. Camping at designated grounds offer an uncanny bond with your fellow adventurers, nurtured on late-night chats in the amber gleams of a fire. Yet, short detours into the backcountry or even down the shore afford a new way to rely on your peers while exploring the canyon in a different manner.
Those impromptu treks call for a slim, small backpack that has just enough space for must-haves like a water bottle, snacks and sunscreen – and of course, a camera (you do want to capture the dramatic cliffs and scenic river). The Hex DSLR sling is the perfect contender to rise up to the task. Its sleek, canvas profile features several custom storage spaces with functionality that defies any terrain.
The sling serves you well on the final day of your foray into the Grand Canyon too as you leave the rafts behind and venture on the Bright Angel Trail.
While many rafting trips commence at the easily accessible Lee’s Ferry campground, which is the only stress-free opening to the Colorado River in hundreds of miles, most days-long water adventures end with a somewhat demanding trek out of the canyon. Yours is one of them.
You wind through the pathway for hours (it can take an entire day) before you emerge at the South Rim of the canyon. Here, your Grand Canyon undertaking concludes but you can still hear the roar of the Colorado River and picture the rough facades of the steep cliffs. When you look up, the blue sky spreads unobstructed, without the gaze-guiding perspective of the looming brown ridges. Yet, the skyward views from the river bed are etched on your mind. They will continue to flash before your eyes for days – perhaps years – to come.
PEOPLE DON’T TAKE TRIPS.. TRIPS TAKE PEOPLE.JOHN STEINBECK