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Grand Canyon Rafting

P1010118In Utah, my roommate for a year was a confirmed bachelor adventure-seeker. We first got to know each other over a Halloween in New Orleans where he was dressed like a vampire. Through the haze of New Orleans partying, costumes, drinks, and common interests, we sparked a new great friendship. When I started to hear his life story, it was like meeting a man behind a legend. He has rafted the Grand Canyon, motorcycled the US, works at the medical clinic at Denali every year, skis, boards, free climbs etc etc etc…. We instantly became friends, and he was the perfect guide for exploring Utah. During that short year, he introduced me to off-piste, back-country skiing, ice climbing, motorcycling, and many more adventures. Toward the end of that year, he called to excitedly tell me that he won the lotto to raft the Grand Canyon again and I was going! “Clear your calendar for the summer after you finish residency, you’re coming.” And so I did.

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Summer 2011, we commenced on a self-guided, three raft, seventeen day trip rafting trip down the Colorado river. There were 8 of us, and it was a mixed group of awesome people. Three members had rafted the canyon previously and were oaring the rafts, four of us were adventure-seekers who knew someone else on the trip but little else, and one poor soul (a girlfriend) who had never even camped in a tent before… It was an incredible journey. Admittedly, at times I thought I must be crazy for joining in knowing so little about what I was about to embark on. At one point, I was staring face forward into the vortex of an enormous churning water hole while my raft guide pulled us out just in time. Later, I watched Youtube videos of groups that were not so lucky. At another point, I got lost on a hike and had to spend the night with no food without the group and no communication. Although it was a short trip, it was so disconnected from the rest of life. The sheer size of the canyon, the power of the water, and the humility of realizing your helplessness without technology at your fingertips is so impressive. At the end of the trip, it felt numb and surreal to turn on the iPhone and hear ding after ding after ding of unanswered emails and neglected texts. The time on the river was just a few weeks of playing outside, exploring side canyons, reading the river, baking in the sun, and playing poker. No Google, no Facebook, no phone calls, no Google maps. Just trusting other random people, having some faith, and relishing in a good old sense of adventure. I wish I was back in the Grand Canyon.

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Emily Birdsall

About Emily Birdsall

Emily Birdsall has written 1 post(s) for Slices of America.

Born lucky, enjoying it. Wanderer at heart, love exploration and adventure. Born and raised in southern Louisiana. I think the world of my home town, Cut Off, and adopted home, New Orleans! I visit as often as I can. After med school, I decided to move "out west" to play in the mountains and experience other areas of the U.S. Spent three years in Utah skiing, climbing, riding motorcycles, my bike, and exploring new adventures like canyoneering. After residency, decided to move to Seattle to explore the NW which was lots of fun. The Pac NW was like a different planet from the east coast. While in Seattle, I was lucky enough to have a job which maximized my time off, so I traveled lots. Recently decided to switch up career paths a bit and accepted a new job in Philly! Philadelphia is a great city so far. I'm enjoying exploring a new part of the country. Trying to find a life that feels right to settle into.