Most of the Grand Canyon’s accidents don’t occur on the river, though—they happen at camp. Our group was no exception.
The trip’s first concussion happened after “Nurse Ratchet” stood up and bonked her head on a ledge. She came down with nausea and vomiting, which caused extreme concern amongst our crew. She also faced a long hike, where half the members got lost for the better part of a day leaving those who ferried boats down river in a prolonged state of anxiety.
Lessons learned: Stick together and watch your brain cage.
The second concussion happened at an aptly-named camp called Ledges. Despite our caution, the eldest member of our group took a digger in the dark. The next day he looked like he’d lost a bar fight with Rhonda Rousey. He felt fine, but only because a lack of mirrors helped him from realizing how beat up he looked.
The third concussion happened on the home stretch of the trip. It involved a tumble off some loose conglomerate rock above Lava Falls: the largest, most bowel-churning rapid on the river.
The fall was merely a misstep in the wrong place. As “Hotwing” plummeted head first, she caught herself with her wrist, which broke, and then her skull, which hit hard enough to call for five expert stitches by Nurse Ratchet (fully recovered from her own concussion).
Luckily, the head bonk did not fracture her skull which was the main concern. All things considered, Hotwing was a trooper and now has a finely decorated cast.
Attitude and travel insurance are everything. We voted to end the trip three days early as a group to get the broken arm and head medical attention. Nobody complained, and in fact the carnage brought everyone together even more. Our four oarsman crushed Lava Falls, despite the S.S. Party Minnow single-oaring the gnarliest line on the river like the Grand’s one-armed pioneer: John Wesley Powell. We then rallied a few 20+ mile days to Diamond Creek and the end of the trip.
Our final day on the river blessed us with sunshine and high spirits all around. Even the wounded didn’t want the trip to end. We exited the canyon with our own culture; like scrappy neighborhood kids worn out from our own laughter, we reveled in our wildness.
If you have the chance to raft the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, drop everything and DO IT. Don’t ruin your life over it, but just know the river will forever change you. If you have any questions for me, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.