It is true that it is hot on the Grand Canyon in July. It is also true that the river is cold, but not that cold. It started off at 47 degrees at the put in and was 59 degrees by the take out. The heat when you were off the water wasn’t an issue for most people, except for a couple of extra warm nights and on some hikes. Dipping in the water to cool off was always an option, and swimming/bathing was a daily experience worth taking before bed, and after paddling.

Dumping water on the hot sand after the sun dipped behind the canyon walls cooled the sand off immediately. Making the mistake of putting your Pacho Pad and tarp on the sand when hot was where you got in trouble. They both insulated the heat and while the entire beach had cooled off, your bed was still super hot; not good! I slept in a tent only one night due to pending rain, but opted for the blanket of stars the rest of the time. Scorpions were found at some of our camps and everyone did the check before getting in bed and putting on the gear in the morning. Dane shook his gear and a Scorpion came right out of it, re-affirming to him to check each time.

Tony Lunt, who is an equal partner in Jackson Kayak with me, spent some quality time with me having some beach side meetings over a bottle of Single Barrel Jack Daniels that I brought for his birthday, or some cool beer (can’t say cold, since it was the temp of the river). Many things were discussed, but primarily we covered the good and bad of my leadership of Jackson Kayak to date. As the company grows, and the size and quality of our management team grows, I am constantly challenged with leading on grounds I have never been on before, personally. There are numerous people in our organization with much more experience and skill on a variety of fronts. No organization can succeed long term with a leader who can’t lead great people to their capacity and nobody makes this transition instantly. I believe I am past the critical point, and Tony has really helped me along the way. So may great people in our organization, so much potential!

When the “conch” horn was blown for dinner, Tony and I would break up and realize that we were being anti-social and get back to our families and friends. I am very thankful for having that one on one time with him in a proper “board room”. We created Jackson Kayak on my trampoline at Rock Island, officially having our first “board meeting” there. To have these meetings in the heart of the Grand Canyon was fitting.

I was able to participate in several “World Championships” of horseshoes. Every camp we went to had a sandy beach perfect for this game. I set one pit up that rivaled the most scenic holes of Pebble Beach for golf. Extreme, untamed horseshoes. A small sandy pit and then granite rocks to another elevated pit with the canyon walls behind it. The view going downhill was the Colorado River running by, sweet! Saul, Bill Lunt, Chad, and Alex and I played a lot of one on one. We also played teams and Dane, Alex, Tonguy, and Annie played a lot. Phil and I played as well and he is really good. I stunned the world of horseshoes with my unorthodox techniques, such as the “hand grenade” where you pull an imaginary pin and throw it over your head like you throw a grenade. I figure that “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades” so I might as well combine the best of both for bigger scores. I also was quite successful with “under the radar” technique of throwing it with no arc straight into the pin at high speed. Finally, my baseball approach of throwing it overhand was quite successful in knocking down leaners and playing defense, but it even scored some ringers adding another element of shock and dismay to anyone playing at the time. Of course, the standard method of play was developed for a reason and it seems to score the best, but mentally, you have an edge when your opponent isn’t sure what is going to happen next. Fun stuff, I lost a lot.

We got a jet boat out of the canyon on day 13 that took us 60 miles down to lake Meade. It was an incredible trip that I highly recommend. If you are a kayaker, don’t go with a motor raft! Noisy, too fast to be able to stop and play, and the groups who go on those are less into the paddling than an Outdoors Unlimited trip. Ask for Phil Boyer for your guide and you’ll be very pleased!

EJ out!