January 29, 2016–
Steve is a much-loved member of our Southwest Program staff. This season Steve applied for funding through the Staff Development Fund for his expedition to raft the Grand Canyon. If you would like to support the Staff Development Fund (or the school in general), you can make a donation here!
I served as Trip Leader for a 22 day rafting/kayaking expedition in the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River. We launched at Lee’s Ferry and boated 277 miles to Pearce Ferry. The expedition started with 15 people of varying experience. Water levels were considered “medium”, ranging from 11,000 – 18,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). The difficulty of the rapids ran up to a Class X on the Grand Canyon scale. For reference, a Grand Canyon 10 is a Class IV elsewhere, but accounts for the size and destructiveness of the Grand’s “big water”.
Navigating a new stretch of river, one of this length, was an exciting endeavor (I feel the emotion is not present in that statement. I do not know how to write how elated I am to have just rafted the Grand!). While this expedition was exciting, it came with many aspects of managing safety. Primarily, I saw it as my job to ensure on-water safety. Seeing new whitewater that I was unfamiliar with gave me an opportunity to freshly look at situations and “run safety” in a variety of situations and gain insight from the other experienced boaters in the group. Safety calls that stand out were situations when I called camp early for group fatigue/cold/energy, facilitating boater conversations on running order for challenging rapids, and deciding on designated groups for long side hikes.
I feel extremely confident in planning long river expeditions for the future. I feel this experience will aid me greatly in my role as a mentor to other staff in addition to my role as a Staff Trainer. The most tangible skill I developed through this expedition was my ability to row and manage a pod of boats in “big water”.
Thank you for contributing to my development in the above areas. This experience was life changing and truly a confidence builder. I hope all of the donors to this fund know that their contributions directly help COBS by developing staff to do their jobs better, and by also helping staff get out into the wild and change our own lives through challenge and discovery.
Thanks to Steve for the write-up, the photos, and the amazing passion and dedication he brings to COBS!