Life at the Bottom of the Grand Canyon: 25 Days in Winter

Mile 11.3: Staring hopefully down the Colorado River at Soap Creek camp – the first night spent on our epic 25 day trip down the Grand Canyon. Here, the rock formation is the red Hermit Shale, a crumbly terrace-forming unit that would later be thousands of feet above us.


Mile 33: A view from the belly of the Redwall Cavern. This giant cave extends several hundred feet into the cliff-face and is an excellent place for a game of kickball. One major benefit of a winter trip: you get Redwall all to yourself. 


Mile 65.1: Long trips mean extra layover days, which means more epic hikes, like this one up Carbon Canyon. The dynamic dance between shadow and light drew our gazes skyward towards the towering canyon walls.


Mile 87.7: The Granite Gorge, a distinct section of the Grand that flows through the dark and mysterious Vishnu Schist formation, is an abrupt departure from the neatly ordered horizontal strata of the sedimentary units above. The more weathering-resistant schist and granite produce steep, jagged canyon walls and some of the most powerful hydraulics and rapids on the river.


Mile 92.8: One of the primary objectives when making the daily camp, is picking the opitmal spot for the Groover – the camp toilet system used on many river trips. While Groover duty rotates between our work groups, there was trip-long competition to choose the best location to enjoy when nature called.


Mile 126.1: After a winter tempest on Christmas Eve, our spirits were lifted when we awoke to calm, blue (and COLD) skies on Christmas morning. Santa’s left a dusting of snow on the rim, an absolutely beautiful sight to behold while enjoying morning coffee.


Mile 144.8: Packing, unpacking, and repacking become second nature on river trips. Here you can see our “junk show,” as we finish collapsing camp and prepare to hit the river on day 17.


Mile 153: The low-angle winter sun leaves the canyon floor frequently cloaked in shade. But when the canyon bends just right, the warmth is bliss. Here, we prepare for several minutes of precious sunlight before being once again cast into the shadows.


Mile 157.3: The azure waters of Havasu Creek are stunning in contrast to the golden brown canyon. Instead of trekking up to the famous Havasu Falls, we enjoyed the lower part of the creek for a half-day, marveling at the bright blue waters. 


Mile 222: After sullenly packing up the boats for our final morning on the river, we decided to float the final four miles in total silence to reflect on the past 25 days. Diamond Peak, the distinctive conical tower in the background, wished us a final goodbye in the silence of sunrise. 


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