Young Generation of River Runners

Kathryn Conn | Grand Canyon, Arizona

During my sophomore year of high school, my mom received a call notifying her that after fifteen years on the waitlist for the Grand Canyon, she had finally been selected for a permit for the summer of 2015. Shortly after my 16th birthday my family, cousins, uncles, aunts, and family friends began our fourteen-day excursion down the Grand Canyon. We were avid rafters, being from Colorado and Arizona, but those of us from the younger generations had never experienced a stretch of river so profoundly wild as the Grand Canyon. I remember feeling powerless, completely at the mercy of nature, as I swam Crystal Rapid with my uncle and cousin, following our raft flipping. While in this moment I felt terrified, performing a river rescue like ours and successfully completing our Grand Canyon adventure felt empowering like no other experience had felt before. Our trip down the Grand Canyon strongly influenced the lives of each cousin and friend in the picture I provided, so much so that four of us pictured are current or were previously, white-water river guides on a stretch of the Colorado River several hundred miles north. We are so grateful to have been raised to respect and understand the rivers and the experience of rafting, such as the Grand Canyon, which allows us to spend our summers as guides, sharing our passion for the river with others.

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