Two years ago a was lucky enough to be able to be a part of a trip down the Grand Canyon with a a group of German Kayakers. This group/school/club/team came over to experience one of the greatest river runs in the world and I was hired by Arizona Raft Adventures to be a safety kayaker/instructor for the group. They had such a great trip in 2009 that this year they came again and I was lucky enough to be along in the same capacity.
The group contained the full spectrum of skill levels, from expert expedition/creek boaters to play-boaters and racers to some who had been kayaking less then a year and were just solidifying their combat rolls. It was great to be able to share one of our greatest rivers with them and see everyone support each other as they learned how to boat in class III big water.
An extra bonus (and challenge at times) was that we had some extra water this year. Because of complex water law and politics, the storage systems between Lake Mead and Lake Powell were going through "equalization", giving us a constant 25,000 cubic feet per second. This was about 10,000 cfs more then normal summer flows and the flows on their last trip in 2009. The surfing was not quite as good overall as in 2009, but being able to see the canyon and its rapids at this water level was a treat.
The S-rig rafts carried our gear, beer and all the food and equipment for the trip and all we had to worry about was kayaking all day everyday for two weeks and then eating good food and visiting some side canyons and waterfalls when we took a break from the water. We worked on surfing, squirting, rolling and how to read water in these kind of conditions. Everyone helped and learned how to rescue others.
Yes, that is all beer.
A lot of them were intimidated at first but everyone rose to the challenge and made big strides in their boating. I remain convinced that a Grand Canyon trip is one of the best ways to progress from a class III to class IV boater. There is nothing like spending that much time paddling in relatively safe, but challenging conditions to make you feel more comfortable in your boat and with your roll.
One of the other highlight was being able to paddle some of the tributaries. It was good to mix things up and get some micro-creeking in for the better paddlers to contrast the river experience.
Tapeats Creak Gorge
Tapeats Creek Gorge
Havasu Creek Fun
Beaver Falls, Havasu Creek
At any water level Lava Falls is amazing, but at 25K it was awesome, especially the crashing wave/hole that was the ledge hole. It was a great way to spend two weeks of the summer. Forgetting the outside world existed and just concentrating on helping people progress their boating, getting some good surf, and playing in the big water hydraulics.
Jens finishing off Lava Falls
24.5 mile rapid