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Shift in Perspective: Stepping Up on the Grand Canyon

a man riding a wave on a surf board on a body of water

I’ve been on a lot of river trips in my life and have transitioned from raft to two person kayak with my parents, to my own kayak. I’ve just returned from kayaking the Grand Canyon with raft support. As I celebrated my recent 13th birthday, I decided to write an article on how river trips are different as you get older. I’ve noticed that things are different when you are younger compared to when you are older.


On a river trip, I’ve realized that you are expected to help a lot more as you get older. Jobs include helping to pack up, rigging the rafts, cooking, derigging the boats, and helping set up. Day one on the boat ramp is when you have to do the most work. This is the first time that you rig the raft and it is a lot of work. It is also in the Arizona heat, which makes it even more difficult. While helping out is usually hard work, it helps you sleep better at night knowing that you are pulling your weight and being part of the team. It makes people like you more and you are trusted with more things. In the end, helping out does more good than harm.

Hannah paddling the famous Lava Falls

Hannah paddling the famous Lava Falls

Not everything about being older is about helping. It can mean picking your own lines on rapids, deciding to run certain rapids, or leading someone else down a rapid. On this particular trip, there were lots of people prepared to lead my sister and I down rapids. When we were scouting a rapid, we could choose whoever’s line sounded the best. On this particular trip, there were many rapids that were a step up from my usual boating. There were some really difficult rapids for me. Every time we looked at a rapid, I made sure that I knew exactly what I was doing and that I had a backup plan. This made me more confident because I had chosen the line best fit for me.


This can also mean monitoring your own health and wellbeing. When you are younger, a parent is usually telling you to drink water or apply sunscreen all the time. This definitely still happens, but less so. On the second day, my dad got heat exhaustion and I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to me. For a few days after that, I was making sure my dad wasn’t getting too hot and drinking enough water. The Grand Canyon is in very extreme conditions and you have to be on top of your own well being. This can also mean deciding to skip hikes. In order to preserve my energy, unfortunately I had to skip a couple of hikes. This was upsetting, but it was necessary if I wanted to keep paddling.


On this particular trip, we rotated out the days people cooked. I quite like cooking, so this was fun for me. Obviously, in cooking as well as everything else, you are trusted with more things when you get older. At home, I cook dinner quite a lot. It was really fun to be allowed to cook in a camp setting. Cooking with the magnificent views was a once in a lifetime experience. I really loved cooking different meals every night and finding more recipes that I could take home with me.


Being older also means you have to keep track of your own gear. I have had to keep track of my gear at home, but in the Grand Canyon, it’s much more difficult. I like to keep my gear in a mesh bag so that it’s all together. However, when my sandals are not unpacked, I keep my kayaking shoes on my feet which means I then have to remember where I took them off. This caused a few problems. On the trip, there were a few times where being disorganized became a problem. I’m happy to say that by the end of the trip, I was much more organized than when I put on the river.


In conclusion, being an older kid on a river trip means you take on responsibility for your own health and start to notice the wellbeing of others, take on jobs that you wouldn’t have been asked to do before and you need become more organized and generally help out more. That’s not necessarily all bad, sometimes taking on responsibilities can be fun.


Author and Jr Ambassador, Hannah Musgrove, is quickly becoming an integral part of Cali Collective in addition to being an honor roll student, skier, swimmer and gymnast.

All words and images copyright California Watersport Collective 2020. all rights reserved.