Gear on the ground at Lees Ferry Launch

Unloading frames for the rafts

Installing frames for the rafts

Rafts inflated, loading gear

Ready to run at Lees Ferry

Eight souls meet, some for the first time. We’re running on the confidence of friends. We’re running on the promise of adventure. Two of us have never run before. The rest know the run they are in for. We’re going to run the mighty Colorado River for its sweep through the noble, ancient, spiritual depths of the Grand Canyon. We’re running on empty, some of us. We’re running blind, some of us. We’re running into the sun, running for fun. We are a committed group. None of us has run away.

We meet in the lobby of a hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona after piling our personal gear outside of the front door. We casually greet each other, modelling enthusiasm. We circle and take turns introducing our hopes, expectations, reasons and experience. Small conversations follow.

On time and on queue Beth, our agent from Professional River Outfitters PRO, arrives in a panel truck with river rafts, an inflatable kayak, life vests, oars, equipment, provisions, and coolers packed with ice and frozen food for our sixteen day journey in canyon river wilderness. She supervises as we load our personal gear into the truck, then puts us in the hands of Big Ed.

Big Ed herds us into a van for the two hour drive to the river launch site, Lees Ferry. Getting to know you chit-chat ensues. On the way Big Ed provides us with a couple of rest stops– one to buy some lunch and last minute provisions for the trip. It is the last chance Stop & Shop.

We talk about the landscape, the geology, geography, plant and animal life, history, people and places.

At Lees Ferry, Beth supervises as we inflate the rafts, install galvanized steel frames in them, and load them with the supplies and our gear. We strap everything securely that it doesn’t wash into the river when the river washes over us.

At last we are ready. After dinner at the only restaurant around we retire each of us to our camp bedroll or cot for our first night of sleep under the stars. The next day is launch day, day one, departure day for our two-hundred and twenty mile, one way trip down river.

Find more and larger photos from day zero in the Day Zero Gallery.