After a surprisingly good lunch at a hole in the wall restaurant in Boulder City, Arizona we arrived at the Peach Springs Resort in Peach Springs Arizona.
The resort is run by the Hualapai Indian Nation, which they spell Walapai – it’s the federal government that spells it Hual instead of Wal. Some linguist having fun at the expense of the first inhabitants.
The resort is basic but comfortable. We had a good and generously portioned dinner then retired ready for an early morning departure for the Grand Canyon and some white water rafting.
I hadn’t been whitewater rafting for years. I’d done a number of rivers in California – the Stanislaus, the North and South forks of the American, the Tuolumne when I was in my twenties and loved it. I hate roller coasters so whitewater was the closest I came to a thrill ride. When our daughter was about twelve we did the American river again with her. She was a natural in the water – always has been. She handled the whitewater like a pro.
This trip we were going to be on a motor driven boat. I thought that meant an easy ride. Not!
Our river guide/boat driver had something else in mind. He rode us straight into the heart of each rapid we encountered. Within minutes we were drenched with 45 degree water. The wind whipped us as we raced down the river. By the time we stopped for lunch on the sunny, beautiful sandy beach we had run a dozen rapids and were chilled to the bone. As we waited for lunch to be ready we soaked up the sun. We took off as much of our soaking wet clothes as decently possible. The beach became littered with cast off clothes set out to dry. The lunch was excellent. The compost toilet was functional. The beach was a godsend. Before we knew it, we were dry, fed and loading back into our boat for a two hour motor driven ride to our take out point. If not for the wind, we would have laid out on the boat to take in the gorgeous scenery. As it was it was too chilly to really relax.
We arrived at the take out point eager to embark on the next adventure. We loaded onto helicopters – three of them were in constant motion taking guests out of the canyon and returning to bring up the next batch. It was an efficient, impressive operation. I’ve been in helicopters before and each time I’ve been motion sick. So while we waited for our group to be weighed – holding everything you’d be holding with you on the flight – and divided into two or perhaps three helicopters, I quickly chewed a couple of motion sickness meds. Within ten minutes we were loading into the helicopter. I and one other smaller person in our group were designated to sit in the front. I climbed in next to the pilot in rather cramped conditions. Three of our group climbed into the back. We’re all pretty light weight by comparison to other groups waiting to fly. One of our group had never been in a helicopter and wanted to keep it that way but she had no alternative but to climb on board. She sat in the middle in the back put her head down and saw nothing on the journey but her own feet while the two either side of her rubbed her back to comfort her.
The ten minute ride was amazing. It was like floating. We rose ever so gently almost straight up. We hugged the canyon side as we ascended. I was able to look around and enjoy breathtaking views. This was night and day from my previous flights. Those had been aggressive, speeding flights with rapid turns and I had always sat in the back seat. I’m so glad to have had this helicopter experience because now I know I CAN enjoy a ride in a helicopter.
Once we were out of the canyon we stopped into the GCW building to use the bathroom and pick up some souvenirs. Then we hopped in a van to make the one mile drive to the Sky Walk!
I had prepared myself for the Sky Walk. I’ve been on high rises in Hong Kong which had glassed in a single panel to provide that vertigo inducing look down. You get that tingly feeling that starts in your feet. The sensation travels up your body, as if you’re falling. I know it’s all in the head so I wasn’t going to let it stop me from having the experience.
We donned booties over our shoes, shades of Taj Mahal, and stepped onto the horseshoe shaped, plexiglass, cantilevered walk. We were 7000 feet over the Colorado River looking down into the Grand Canyon. The walk used to be all clear but people were too freaked out by it so they made just the center clear and added an opaque white strip on the right and left. I wished they hadn’t done that. I found there was not enough area to look through. I didn’t get that tingly feeling, I didn’t feel the dizziness of the height at all. However, the view out was terrific – well worth the walk. Sadly one of our group didn’t have my same experience. They just couldn’t bring themselves to even step out on the walk to see how it would affect them. If you’re in that position – push yourself to give it a try. The one who didn’t walk out spent the rest of the afternoon regretting they hadn’t tried.
It was a wonderful, long, sometimes challenging day but well worth it.
For more information : http://www.grandcanyonwest.com/