I just returned from a really wonderful two weeks on the Colorado River. We hiked side canyons, gazed at ancient cave paintings, plunged into waterfalls, and slept under the stars on beaches of silt. By 7 am each morning, we were on the river, letting the current pull us along. We travelled through the entire Grand Canyon, running hundreds of rapids and stopping a couple times a day to explore the amazing landscape.
It's easy to see how people fall in love with the Colorado River. During stretches of flat weather, we drifted along lazily in the hot sun, listening to the rhythmic sound of the oars and the occasional pleading call of the canyon wren. During the rapids, I hung onto the raft, one hand in the boat and the other out, clinging tightly as we rode up and down waves higher than my head, with icy cold water sloshing over me until I was soaked and knee deep in muddy water.
The canyon does seem to go on forever. For fourteen days, and over 200 miles, we followed the river, always moving downstream, with cliffs of rock towering over us on either side. Every side canyon is different: some wide enough to hold acres and acres of land, filled with prickly pear cacti, mesguite and tamarisk, while others were so narrow I could touch the wall on either side as we scrambled up waterfalls and swam through pools to make our way upward.
By the end of the trip, it seemed natural stare up at the stars as I fell asleep and to wake to the sight of those tall cliffs of rock. It will seem strange tonight to sleep in a bed, inside a house, with the whole sky on the other side of glass.