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Grand Canyon Float: Friends and Adventure—Two Things That I Love

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Group picture at the Nankoweap granaries; Photograph by Joe Riis

My life moves from one trip to the next, typically a solo adventure documenting the last wild animals that we share this planet with. It’s a dream come true for me, without a doubt, and I feel very lucky to do what I do. However, the more time I spend alone, the more I realize how important my friends are to me. They keep me inspired and ground me as a human. It’s been five years since I graduated college, which is the last time I had an extended amount of time with folks my own age. This Grand Canyon trip is the type of adventure I’ve sought after since I was ten years old. I dreamt of having friends from all over North America, with like minds, coming together for pure fun.

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Erik Boomer rolls through another section of whitewater on a SUP board. He SUP boarded the entire Grand Canyon; Photograph by Joe Riis

We’re off the river now, back to our normal lives. I’m sitting in a remote cabin in western Wyoming waiting for the snow to stop falling. Andy Maser is back in Portland editing. Sarah and Eric McNair-Landry are in British Columbia for a talk. And Erik Boomer is headed that way. The rest of my Wyoming friends are back in Laramie, others are back at their jobs on the East Coast. However, we’re all bouncing emails back and forth since we got off the river a few days ago, all wishing we were still on the river. Sometimes society is difficult to swallow, especially after 21 days removed.

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Pirate night at camp; Photograph by Joe Riis

The question that is always hovering around me is–should I stay in one place and get to know it deeply (South Dakota and Wyoming), or should I bounce around this Earth and try to understand the whole thing? I don’t know. For now, I’ll daydream about being in the big ditch with 15 friends on the best trip of my life. Actually, after I write this I’m going to make a list of rivers that I’ll apply for permits for 2013. That’s what I want to think about, an expedition with a bunch of rad friends who love to explore, maybe through the mountains on a large volume glacial river this time. Yep, that’s what I’ll think about today—bright aqua water, ice chunks, big loaded-down rafts, snow-capped mountains, bears, friends in costumes, smiling, beer in hand.

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Fairy queens catch a ride through Lava Falls; Photograph by Joe Riis

Shout out to NRS, as well as GlobalStar and Brunton for making it possible for us to send out these blog posts and pictures from the river.