Grand Canyon Rafting Trip
Before I go

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

My bags are packed and I’m about to board the plane for my Grand Canyon rafting trip.  But the truth is it feels weird.  It’s been almost a year since my last real adventure when I went to Istanbul, Lebanon, and Egypt.  COVID-19 cancelled my April trip to Vegas, LA, and Sri Lanka and I’ve been a bit of a shut in since- though not entirely by choice.

As someone who is accustomed to taking 3 or 4 international trips a year (hazard of the travel blog lifestyle) it’s safe to say I’ve become adventure and travel spoiled over the years.  I made myself a promise years ago that I would visit one new country a year until I died – unfortunately, that appears to be out the window through no fault of my own.  Honestly, up until even yesterday I kept waiting for my Grand Canyon rafting trip to get cancelled as well.

But it didn’t.

And just like that, in a N-95 mask, with a pocket full of Clorox wipes, and I’m back on a plane flying direct from Kansas City to Las Vegas (where the trip departs from).  When I booked this trip back in 2018. I had no idea what a shitshow 2020 was going to be. I only knew I’d been wanting to explore more of the States, loved white water rafting, and saw an opportunity for a once in a lifetime – bucket list type trip.

The closer and closer the trip came the more I realized I may be in a little over my head with no clue what I’ve gotten myself into.  Luckily, in the past those have turned out to be my favorite type of adventures.  If you don’t count Burning Man, the longest ‘outdoor’ trip I’ve ever done was the 5 days of backcountry hiking and camping I did in the Grand Tetons a few years ago and this Grand Canyon rafting trip is more than double that length.

So needless to say this is going to be interesting and make for a great story – assuming I live to tell the tale.   

I know what you’re thinking, if the goal is to survive 11 days of blistering Arizona heat, deadly scorpions, and class 5 rapids…

What in the hell inspired me to go on a Grand Canyon rafting trip?

Why didn’t I bail with the whole global pandemic going on in the world right now?

Well there are a few reasons:

Honestly, I’m a bit of a psycho

I like doing adventurous stuff. I like challenging myself. I like trying new things. I enjoy having to figure out if I can handle something and pushing myself to do things I never thought I could do growing up. 

If I never pushed the envelope I never would have started to travel or started this blog. I’ve found that each time you push yourself outside your comfort zone, it grows and less and less phases you. You begin to be at home being under pressure or when things are falling apart.  My Grand Canyon rafting trip seems like a great way to feed the part of my soul that needs to be challenged- not just physically but mentally.

 

It sounded cool & the timing was right

Call me old fashion, but I like doing cool shit.  It’s one of my favorite past times. What its life if not for the living and all that.  If I hear about something and it sounds jaw dropping cool or can barely comprehend it fun it captures my imagination and I can’t think about anything else until I have a plan to make it happen.

I got the idea to do a Grand Canyon rafting trip stuck in my head in 2018 and when I reached out to the amazing people at Crate – the best Grand Canyon Rafting Company (Bonnie and Vicki are superstars by the way) to learn more about the trip, dates, and what my options were they were days away from posting the information about the one paddle only trip for 2020.They told me they would hold as many of the 12 spots for me as I wanted.  If I had reached out to them even a week later the 12 spots would have filled up. Clearly, it was meant to be and when the stars align you don’t close your eyes.

“I travel because I become uncomfortable being too comfortable.”
– Carew Papritz

It combines a bunch of things I like but don’t get to do often enough.

It’s simple. I like water water rafting. I like hiking. I like camping. A Grand Canyon rafting trip combines them all into one badass experience.  What more could a guy who loves adventure travel and spending time outdoors want?! 

I’ve been living in Kansas City since I moved back to the States and while I enjoy it, it doesn’t have the same access to outdoor activities that places like Colorado, Utah (most underrated State in the USA by the way), and California do. I know I’m not Bear Grylls or going on Naked and Afraid anytime soon, but my Grand Canyon rafting trip is a way for me to indulge in my adventurous side and seeing how ‘outdoorsy’ I really am.

Excursions > Vacations

I read quite a bit about about other people’s experiences on their Grand Canyon rafting trips and one phrase that stuck with me was ‘it’s not a vacation it’s an excursion”.  I loved that.  There’s nothing wrong with going to Jamaica or Costa Rica and spending all your time at a resort- but that’s not who I am or what I like to do. 

As I mentioned earlier, I like to challenge myself.  If I don’t come back from a ‘vacation’ completely wiped out and exhausted then I didn’t do it right.  Don’t get me wrong, I am exhausted (haven’t taken a vacation day in over a year), but there are different types of tiredness. Few things beat your head hitting the pillow after a long but fulfilling adventure.  As much as I love a drink on the beach, watching the tide, and enjoying the sunset I didn’t want that to be what could be my only trip this year.

Technological Detox


I spend a lot of time on the computer and my phone.  It’s not by choice, but between my full time job running one of the best web design and digital marketing companies in the country (shameless plug and shoutout to Lifted Logic), creating content for Of Whiskey and Words, and also trying to grow its global reach I log a lot of screen time.  Even when I take international trips I spend time answering emails, writing posts, or setting up the next thing.  On this Grand Canyon rafting trip that’s not an option.

Being inside the rim of the Grand Canyon means no service.  Floating down the Colorado River means no computer or tablet. Having to fit all my supplies in a backpack and a dry pack means no unlimited power supply.  This will be my first trip since my cruise ship days where I am completely off the grid and I’d be lying if I said I was mad about it.

 

But what about COVID-19?!

-Obligatory Response about the COVID-19 Situation

To my non-medically educated mind, rafting the Grand Canyon seems like a relatively ‘safe’ trip.  I know how that sounds, the trip where I could get heat stroke, bitten by a snake, or drowned is considered “safe”? 

Of all the things I could go do, spending 11 days outside with only 10 other people seeing one of the world’s greatest geological wonders while sleeping under the stars (6 feet apart of course) seemed like to good of an option to pass up.  Factor in the likelihood that my Grand Canyon rafting trip may be the only real trip I take this year, thanks to all the travel bans, and I wasn’t going choose to sit at home.

 


Please note in no way am I trying to disregard or downplay the seriousness of the current COVID-19 pandemic. I’m aware of what’s going on in the world, the suffering that millions have experienced, the misery its brought to countless families, and the affect it’s having not just on the medical world but also on the world’s economy.  I believe by taking precautions (N95 masks, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, social distancing, and being conscious of your surroundings you can minimize your exposure and risk. With all of this in mind, I weighed the risks of the trip and decided to proceed as planned.


 

I’m aware that this excursion is going to be different than most of the other trips I take, but honestly I think that’s what appeals to me most about it.

I get to live in the moment and practice truly being present.

I should have no worries about the past or future.  No anxiety about which email to answer next, how behind a project is, or how I should have written more last night.

It is a refresher in my motto:

This must be the place

Which is something all of us could use a reminder in every now and again.  As important as this trip is for challenging myself it’s equally as important to help me reset so I can face whatever else 2020 has to throw at me.

Stay Gold.

Todd Smidt

About Todd Smidt

Todd is a man of simple tastes: traveling, words, whiskey, & dad jokes. He enjoys first-rate banter, long walks along the coast, Jameson, and Vonnegut. He spends his free time traveling the world and writing about it.

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