Catclaw Acacia

Catclaw Acacia

The Curved Spines of the Catclaw Acacia

The Catclaw Acacia(Acacia greggii) is commonly found in the Grand Canyon.  From a distance it is hard to differentiate from the Western Honey Mesquite Tree.  Up close the Catclaw Acacia can be identified by its small catclaw shaped prickles.  The Catclaw also has smaller bipinnate leaves than the mesquite and the seed pods are constricted between the seeds unlike the mesquite.

For anyone who has done a side hike from the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon you have surely encountered the Catclaw Acacia “grabbing” your clothing as you try to make a turn on the trail.  When Grand Canyon rafting the Catclaw Acacia first appears around the proposed Marble Canyon damsite and continues throughout the canyon.

13 Experiences For 2013

 

#1.  Walk on a Glacier

Walker Glacier

On the Walker Glacier with the Alsek River in the background.

Positioned below the Tatshenshini and Alsek River confluence is the Walker Glacier.  Though the Walker Glacier has been receding continually since the first Colorado River & Trail Expeditions trip in the late 1970′s,  it still offers a relatively short hike to its base where it is possible to get on top of the glacier and hike on it amongst miniature ice rivers and waterfalls, deep blue crevasses, and huge boulders it has carried on its back for thousands of years.

 

#2.  Captain Your Own Boat 

Preparing for the rapids

Enjoying the calm between rapids on the Green River.

Join Colorado RIver & Trail Expeditions on a Green River rafting trip through Desolation Canyon and pilot your very own one-person or two-person inflatable kayak through over 50 mild to wild Class II and Class III rapids.  No prior experience is necessary, as the guides will give you instruction. Each day the rapids get bigger to match your increasing ability.

 

#3 Take a Leap 

Jumping at Elves Chasm

The Elves Chasm Leap

One of the most beautiful places in the Grand Canyon is Elves Chasm.  The chasm is full of ferns and a lovely waterfall in a setting that is as spectacular as any on Earth.  During the times the Colorado River is flowing muddy, Elves Chasm is especially inviting because of its cool clear water.  The only way to truly experience Elves Chasm is to swim through its inviting pool and climb up behind the waterfall where there is a perfect place to take a jump into the pool below.

 

 

#4.  Sleep Under a Blanket of Stars

Star Pattern Captured at Grapevine Camp in the Grand Canyon

For most of our human existence the stars have been our compass, our calendar, and our source of myths and legends.  Unfortunately, over the last 100 years the light pollution from cities and towns has made it hard to see the sky as our ancestors did for thousands of years.  A river trip down any of the rivers in the Southwestern United States is a great way to see the moon, stars, and planets in a setting free of light pollution.  The Colorado Plateau is recognized as one of the best star gazing areas in the United States because of how sparsely populated it is.

 

#5.  Enjoy a Thunderstorm in the Desert

Mikenna Clokey’s photo of Rimfalls above the Marble Canyon Dam Site

It is rare for it to rain in the desert, but when it does, it is incredibly exciting.  The Monsoon Season usually starts in mid-July and ends about the third week in August in the Colorado Plateau region.  The normal scheme of things is for the clouds to start building shortly after lunchtime leading into wind, thunder, lightning, and finally a downpour of rain in the afternoon. The storm is usually short lived and clears up by dinner time.  During the months of July and August the storms are usually a welcome cool down from the hot dry summer.  If one is really lucky they might get to experience rim falls.  Rim falls are waterfalls that pour off of the canyon walls into to river.  They are formed when it rains hard enough for the water not to soak into the desert soil.

 

#6.  Choose Real instead of Virtual 

frog on max arm

Trade Virual For Real Memories

In today’s society it is hard to escape the virtual world.  Everywhere you go, people are zoned in on their smartphone partaking in Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and watching Youtube videos.  2013 is a year to get back to real friends, real family, real games, and real experiences.  The best way to do this is to go to a magical place where these devices don’t work.  Multiday rafting tours are an excellent way to accomplish this. Once a couple of days have passed, real adventures and memorable experiences will far outshine the virtual world.

 

#7.  Peruse an Ancient Gallery

Ancient Rock art in Canyonlands National park

Rock Art in Canyonlands National Park seen on a Cataract Canyon Rafting Trip

The ancient rock art left behind by the Fremont and Ancestral Puebloan Cultures of the Colorado Plateau is some of the most interesting and beautiful found anywhere.  No one can definitely say what the art means, but most agree it was an important part of ancient culture.  The rivers of Southeast Utah and Northern Arizona offer a great way to experience these magical, mysterious rock art panels.

 

#8.  Float into the Wild West

Abandoned Ranch Equipment at Rock Creek Ranch

 Desolation Canyon is in a remote area of Eastern Utah.  It is Cowboy Country in every aspect of the word.  Access to the area is the Green River, which offers the perfect highway to see the sites and ruins of the old West.  Desolation Canyon has been home to homesteaders, ranchers, wranglers, outlaws, and Native Americans.  All along the banks of the Green River are reminders of this, including herds of wild horses.  Highlights of the 5-day Desolation Canyon adventure include stopping at historic Rock Creek Ranch, hiking to an old bootlegger hideout, and stopping at Flat Canyon to view a spectacular petroglyph panel.

 

#9.  Watch the Grand Canyon’s Walls Rise and Fall

Watch the Canyon Walls Rise and Fall Raft all 278 Miles

To know the Grand Canyon is to travel through all 278 miles of its grandeur.  This means rafting the Colorado River from Lee’s Ferry to Lake Mead.  There is something special about seeing the canyon’s walls rise at the beginning of the trip and gradually fall away at the end.

 

 

 

#10. Un-runable Rapids? Then Helicopter Portage

Helicopter Picks up the First Cargo Net of Gear for Portage Around Turnback Canyon

Experience a thrilling helicopter ride over a section of Class VI rapids when you join Colorado River & Trail Expeditions on their Alsek Rafting Expedition August 4-15, 2013.  At Turnback Canyon the Tweedsmuir Glacier has pushed the river up against a solid wall of granite, creating a 5 mile section of whitewater that is un-runable for rafts.  The night before the portage, the rafts are de-rigged and prepared for portage.  Then the next morning the helicopter swoops in, picks up the gear and passengers, and transfers them below Turnback Canyon.  The portage takes about 10 helicopter trips.

 

#11.  Rejuvinate with a Power Nap

Rafters Power Nap After a Delicious Lunch

Maybe the best thing about getting away for a few days on a river trip is the ability to leave your troubles at home.  To have a mind that is worry free is one of a river’s great blessings. After a few days of living with the Earth and the wind playing with your hair, relaxation will come easy.  This relaxation will lead to the great pastime of taking a noon time power nap sprawled out on the sand after a yummy lunch!

 

#12.  Capture True Wilderness in the Soul

Wild Alaska Rafting

Mindy Mackay’s Chaco Tanned Foot next to a Grizzly Bear Track

On Colorado River & Trail Expeditions’ last Alsek River trip, the group saw over 30 Bears (Black and Grizzly), 2 Wolverines, a Wolf, Mountain Sheep, and countless Eagles.  The wildlife is the just the beginning! Besides the animals, there are glaciers, icebergs, craggy peaks, dense forests, giant unnamed lakes, and a huge river with a couple of Grand Canyon style rapids.  Sitting around a big fire in the midnight sun telling stories and soaking up the wildness does wonders for you soul.

 

#13. Do Something You Never, Ever, Ever,  Dreamed of Doing

Swimming in the Little Colorado River

 There are countless stories of people who had never camped a night in their life until they took their first river trip.  For most of them, the river trip was life-changing, and they claim it was the best thing that they ever did.  Many have come back for other trips.  So don’t let a fear of camping or living outside deter you.  The meals, camping equipment, and bathrooms are better than any campground, and the river is always there for washing your hair.  Besides, Colorado River & Trail Expeditions will take great care of you, as will the the Rivers and Canyons.

 

Colorado River & Trail Expeditions offers rafting trips through North America’s most beautiful locations.  To learn more about these incredible experiences visit their website www.crateinc.com or call 1-800-253-7328.

 

Take Action Now to Save the Grand Canyon Again!

Save Grand Canyon From Uranium Mining

Save the Grand Canyon From Uranium Mining

A new bill, that would be detrimental to the Grand Canyon, has been introduced by Senators McCain(AZ) and Hatch(UT), among others, that would block the United States Department of the Interior from implementing a 20-year moratorium on new uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park. It is absolutely necessary that everyone spreads the word about this terrible bill. Write letters to your Senators, post this blog to your facebook page, write an editorial in your local newspaper, and let everyone you know see what is going on.

To Take Action:

A letter with a personal touch can be written through The Grand Canyon Trust. This letter can be reached by going to http://gct.convio.net/site/PageNavigator/homepage and following the let your Congress know you support Secretary Salazar’s wild lands policy link. Once the letter is written you can e-mail it to your local senators and representatives. The letter can also be printed out with your senator’s address, and then mailed to them.

Our View:

Colorado River & Trail Expeditions
is mystified and disgusted that Republican Senators John McCain and Orrin Hatch, among others, have introduced a bill that would block the United States Department of the Interior from implementing a 20-year moratorium on new uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park. In June, after months of studies and deliberation, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar decided that “expanded uranium mining around the canyon could threaten water supplies, air quality, wildlife, desert vegetation and priceless scenery.” Once lost, Mr. Salazar said, “those assets can never be reclaimed.” Salazar also announced his support of a full 20 year withdrawal of 1.1 million acres of public land watersheds surrounding the Grand Canyon to new uranium mining claims.

Speaking from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Salazar spoke of John Wesley Powell and Teddy Roosevelt in his speech:

To be here—for John Wesley Powell or for any of us—is to be overwhelmed and humbled by the scale of geologic time. The minutes, hours, and days by which we measure our lives are hardly an instant in the life of these canyons. Yet, all of us—by the decisions we make in our short time here—can alter the grandeur of this place…As Teddy Roosevelt famously implored from this very place: “Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.”

Colorado River & Trail Expeditions completely agrees with Salazar’s decision for a full 20 year withdrawal of 1.1 million acres of Public land watersheds surrounding Grand Canyon to new Uranium Mining claims. To learn more about this Uranium Mining issue and how it could potentially affect the Grand Canyon, please check out the editorial our guide Walker Mackay wrote for the Salt Lake Tribune. It explains the importance of keeping uranium mining out of the Grand Canyon for our Grand Canyon rafting business and for the public in general.

What our September Grand Canyon River Trip Guests Told Us

Dory in Grand Canyon Rapids

Grand Canyon Dory Ride

We finished off our river season with two rowing/paddle hybrid trips. One was a total of 13 days, including an exchange of folks at Phantom Ranch, and Whitmore Wash, before reaching Lake Mead. The other was a charter trip of 12 days to Diamond Creek. The crew was told on both trips multiple times how awesome the trip was and that we should be marketing our use of Cots and having a Dory along.

We have taken Cots on almost all of our Grand Canyon Rafting trips for the past 5 years. We have found them to be a nice addition to trips for a couple of reasons. First off, they get our guests off the ground. This makes for a comfortable nights sleep free of sand. Secondly, they allow for air to pass around our guests for a cooler night sleep during the summer months. Finally, due to Glen Canyon Dam, the beaches of Grand Canyon are shrinking, making it harder each year to find big sand bars to camp on. In 2012, Cots will be available on all of our Grand Canyon Motorized, Non-Motorized, Ranch & Raft, and Paddle Trips. We have had a lot of guests ask about our Cots. They are made by Roll-a-Cot. We use the wide model on our rafting expeditions. We also provide cots on all of our Cataract Canyon rafting expeditions. If you are joining us on a Desolation Canyon or Westwater Canyon rafting expedition, just ask, and we will provide a cot for you.

Cots on Grand Canyon Rafting Trip

Sunset at the Ledges

The second thing that both trips commented on was how great it was to have along a Dory. Both of our September rafting trips included oar rafts, paddle rafts, and a Dory. The Dory was a nice addition to the trips and gave a completely different ride than the rubber rafts. Everyone really enjoyed being able to paddle one day, ride in the dory the next, and relax in a rubber raft the next.

2011 Grand Canyon Rafting Season a Great Success!

On October 1 our last Grand Canyon whitewater rafting trip of the season ended at Diamond Creek. The trip was twelve days in length and was a charter trip of friends from Canada who get together every five years to do an outdoor adventure. They have rafted the Firth River, Coppermine River and Nahanni River over the past decade. The trip enjoyed fabulous weather, never needing tents. The trip consisted of 3 oar rafts, 1 Dory, and a paddle raft. The boats all enjoyed good runs. The trip also did a lot of great hikes and saw a plethora of wildlife including Foxes, a Coyote, Ringtail Cats, Rattlesnakes, Big Horn Sheep, Mule Deer, lizards, Ravens, Red-Tail Hawks, and a Peregrine Falcon. On night nine of the trip we had ‘The Miracle on Sand” as the top Canadian team of Joe and Dave shocked the CRATE team in a best of three washers championship game. It is sad to see the Grand Canyon river rafting season come to an end, but we look forward to a great summer shaping up in 2012.

Grand Canyon, a poem by

Amil Quayle

Grand Canyon

I speak now of that Grand Canyon
which lies within each of us. There
are pre-Cambrian rocks at the center,
the core, and talus from yesterday’s fall;
marble and granite grown hard from the
pressure and heat of heartbreak and
passion; crumbling sandstone, layer on
layer of sediment, sentiment piled on
over a lifetime’s experience. The sun
bursts on us each morning then dies
and we are in darkness, but moon shadows
tease our walls. We listen to the pulsating
rhythm of time’s river lapping at our
shores. The sandy places slide, diffuse,
move closer to the sea. A billion years
of erosion is magnifed, demagnifed into
sixty or seventy years as we measure time.
Perhaps in a million years your shinbone
will be a fossil in another Grand Canyon,
cold in a bed of rock next to mine.

This poem is from “Grand Canyon and other Selected Poems,” by Amil Quayle, who has run the Grand Canyon for most of his life. The book is available from our office at a cost of $15.00. If you would like one, give us a call at 1-800-253-7328.

In 25 Words Or Less . . .

Why would anyone want a slightly-less-than-perfectly-printed hooded sweatshirt from Colorado River & Trail Expeditions? We recently announced the give-away of a limited number of  imperfect Crate “hoodies” on our Facebook page, and invited our Facebook friends to tell us in 25 words, or less, why they would like to have one. Today, we are happy to announce the winners and share their sentiments.

Karen Jones said she wanted the hoodie to “wear when the weather turns cool, as a reminder of my past (lived at the Canyon for 20 years, and what is yet to come!”  As a post-script she noted, “we all have imperfections and are born with flaws, that is what makes each one of us so special!”  Thanks, Karen. These hoodies are, indeed, special. No one, other than our river guides, has owned one until now. They aren’t even for sale!

“I would like one for my son,” wrote Dreama Secrest “He has never been much of an outdoors type of guy and needs to become more active.” Colorado River & Trail Expeditions is an advocate of “No Child Left Inside,” regardless of age or size, and so we are really happy to give Dreama’s son a Crate hoodie and encourage him to enjoy some fun outdoor activities in the months to come.

Anyone that tells us we are “awesome,” is bound to gain some favor. So Jimmy Cook will have a hoodie coming his way. Jimmy also noted that he is 6’7″ tall, “and it’s hard for me to find cool hoodies in XXL.” Nice to know he thinks our hoodies are “cool.”

Paul Mullins figured that “advertising for CRATE is the least I could do after falling out of the boat in the middle of Lava Falls and nearly giving Walker a heart attack.”  Giving Paul a hoodie is the least we can do when he followed the guide’s instructions to “swim towards me as fast as you can!” “You don’t ask questions. You swim.” We like obedient passengers.

Judy Morrow kidnapped one of our Crate mascots after her Grand Canyon rafting trip this summer. Why did she deserve a hoodie after that? “Can I say the reason is that I might be tempted to hold Swampy hostage until I get one? LOL!jk…okay, how about I’ve been talking up CRATE to all of my rafting friends?”  We appreciate word of mouth advertising. It’s the best! We still hope for Swampy’s safe return.

Keith Wiseman said the reason he wants a Crate hoodie is “because the most recent Crate item I have is a yellow mug that I got in 1994 and I need something more up to date.”  We think that a person who can hold onto a  souvenir mug for 17 years has a compelling reason for getting a Crate hoodie. We hope he wears it in good health for at least another 17 years!

We are happy to send a Crate hoodie to Victoria Airey, who has “four framed pictures of the Colorado River in my living room that I look at every day from my trip in the mid-80s, also did the Tatshenshini!”  Victoria has had her pictures on the wall longer than Keith has kept his mug. She definitely deserves a hoodie.

If, like Mary Bridget Kane, you promise to take a repeat river trip with Colorado River & Trail Expeditions, you’ll win a hoodie. Mary Bridget wrote, “I need something to keep me warm when I walk to the groover in the middle of the night on my next trip.”  That’s a good reason.

Nikki Cooley has worked as a river guide for another company, but she “respects CRATE guides as they’ve always been very nice to me on the river. Also, like your sweatshirts, I am slightly less than perfect and I try to make the best of every day, AND a CRATE sweatshirt would be good advertising for you guys.” What can we say? Flattery, humility, and publicity are a winning combination.

We love it when people take one of our trips and have a “life changing” experience. Cade Satterfield will be wearing a Crate hoodie, because we liked what he had to say:  “Trip of my life was a break from all that doesn’t matter and awakening to all that does; family, love, laughter, nature, and adventure.”

From Lina Berman in Israel: “I fly over 9000 miles one way to enjoy your rafting trips and I guess I take the longest flights, that’s why I “deserve” one…”  Lina has traveled with us on multiple river trips, and we have to agree that an 18,000-mile-round-trip flight to take a week-long river trip definitely merits a Crate hoodie. She can cuddle up in it on those long overnight red-eye flights.

Last, but not least, we are sending a Crate hoodie to Okan Gurdil in Ankara, Turkey.  Okan realized that he would probably be ineligible for writing a two page letter and living so far away, but his letter was so nice and compelling that we could not turn him down. “Even if I don’t get a hoodie in return, I wanted to thank all of you for letting me experience nature at its best [on my 2005 Grand Canyon trip]. Much love to everyone who works at CRATE and who have experienced CRATE.”

We feel very fortunate to be in a business that is fun, exciting, adventurous, and attracts such a wonderful clientele. We are flattered that so many people wanted one of our “less than perfect” sweatshirts, and we appreciate all of the entries we received.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Canyon United States Quarter

View From the Nankoweep Granaries

Grand Canyon US Quarter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2010 the United States began minting “The America the Beautiful” quarters featuring National Parks.  The Grand Canyon quarter features the view from the Nankoweep Granaries looking downstream toward the Little Colorado River.  The view is a favorite of Colorado River & Trail Expeditions.  We try to do the short, but strenuous, hike to the granaries and the viewpoint on all of our Grand Canyon rafting trips.

Nankoweep is located on our Upper Grand Canyon rafting trip.  It is located about 52 miles downstream of Lee’s Ferry.  The granaries were used as a storage site by the ancestral puebloan people who grew and gathered food on the delta below.  The view on the US quarter is a great representation of the Grand Canyon.

 

Grand Canyon Rafting & Ranch

Our last Grand Canyon Raft and Ranch trip of the season is slated for September 12-15, 2011.  This trip is a great introduction to the Grand Canyon for those who are short on time.  The trip includes round-trip transportation from Las Vegas, Nevada and will include a scenic plane ride to the Bar 10 ranch on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, a helicopter ride into the depths of the Grand Canyon, floating 50 miles along the Colorado River and its rapids via raft, hard hulled dory, or people powered paddle boat, a jetboat ride through the final 40 miles of the Grand Canyon past the famous “Grand Canyon Skywalk”, and finally, an air conditioned ride back to Las Vegas via passenger van or coach.

In addition to all of the exciting logistics, participants will have a chance to do a variety of western activities at the Bar 10 ranch including riding 4-wheelers, horseback riding, and sleeping in a covered wagon.  On the river portion of the trip participants will engage in a scenic off-river excursion to beautiful Travertine Grotto and challenge about eight Grand Canyon rapids rated 3-6 on the 1-10 Colorado River rapid scale.  Guests will camp at night along the river bank on cots with great dinner meals of Steak and BBQ Chicken.

If you have ever wanted to go Grand Canyon rafting, but just didn’t have the time to do all 278 miles this is the trip for you.  This final trip of the season leaves Las Vegas on September 12 and returns on September 15.  It is a great time of year for this experience.  Call our office now and reserve your space (1-800-253-7328).

Happy 95th Birthday National Park Service!

NPS turns 95 Today!

Happy 95th Birthday NPS

Today marks the 95th Birthday of the National Park Service.  The National Park Service Organic Act was signed on August 25, 1916 by Woodrow Wilson establishing the National Park Service as an agency of the United States Department of the Interior.  The act was sponsored by Representative William Kent (I) of California and Senator Reed Smoot (R) of Utah. The first appointed NPS director was Stephen Mather, who took on the responsibility of supervising and maintaining all designated national parks, battlefields, historic places, and monuments.  Prior to the signing of the NPS Organic Act National Parks and Monuments were managed locally, or by the US Army with varying degrees of success.  The act gave us the eloquent and famous passage on the duty of the newly formed NPS:

“… to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

Colorado River and Trail Expeditions is very thankful for the foresight of the individuals and organizations that fought to protect wild places and preserve open spaces.  We operate in three National Parks in the United States.  We offer whitewater rafting tours in Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, and Glacier Bay.  We also operate in Kluane National Park and Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park in Canada.

Our Grand Canyon whitewater rafting trips travel all 278 miles along the Colorado River through the heart of Grand Canyon National Park.  The Grand Canyon did not become a National Park until 1919 after a long fight to protect it.

Our Cataract Canyon rafting trips travel through the heart of Canyonlands National Park where the mighty Green and Colorado Rivers come together, separating Canyonlands into three distinct areas: The Maze, The Needles, and The Island in the Sky.  Whitewater bigger than the Grand Canyon abounds in the spring.  When the water drops and the temperatures cool down in the fall we do incredible fall hiking and rafting tours to see the sights of the hard to get to “martian landscape.”

Our Alaska rafting trips are the best way to see Kluane, Tatshenshini-Alsek, and Glacier Bay National Parks.  The land is true wilderness where wolverines, bears, moose, and wolves rule the landscape.  These rafting tours give plenty of time to see the sites and enjoy the experience of hiking on Walker Glacier and watching icebergs break off into Alsek Lake.

The National Parks were the United State’s best idea, and we are proud and lucky to operate our business in them.  We wish the National Park Service a happy 95th birthday.