I am nothing if not efficient. Okay... I am one thing. I am obsessive. Every book I read is a guidebook. Every car I pass I evaluate for off-road ability. Last night, I dreamed of planning the trip. Not of the trip. Planning. I dreamed about taking notes.
This is good, right? This means I'll have all the necessary stuff squared away well ahead of time, and I can have the months before I leave to relax, bulk up my hikin' calves, and figure out what to do with my cats (the only aspect of this trip I dread thinking about).
But ta-daa! Today I called the extremely friendly people at Canyon Explorations, Colorado-River rafting guides and outfitters, to book my run down the Grand Canyon, which will take 16 days, starting October 6, 2011. They were recommended by my Lonely Planet guide, and so far, I really like the way they do things (or at least the way they tell me they do things). I like that the trip I booked is a "Hiker's Special," which allows hours per day to explore side canyons. I like that they encourage participation in the paddling, and even offer short lessons in a single-person inflatable kayak for shooting the rapids solo, if I get that comfortable. I really like that they work for sustainability, both because it's a good thing all around, and because the organic, free-range, and local food sounds delicious. It's also quite nice that they both pick you up and drop you off in Flagstaff, Arizona, which not only seemed like a cool town the one time I visited, but is also convenient for me to head back up into Utah.
Canyon Explorations is one of the few Colorado River guide companies that offers tours as late as October. My rough itinerary, which had me starting the Colorado Plateau in Utah in about October and working my way down, put me in the Grand Canyon in more like November or even December. It isn't that big of a problem for me to do the Grand Canyon as the first step in the CP rather than the last, especially if the drop-off point is Flagstaff instead of Vegas. I also kind of like heading up into Utah during full-on winter, given how glowingly the guides describe cross-country skiing around Bryce. Nonetheless, I wanted the Grand Canyon trip to be as late as possible, to give me enough time to explore the PN and MW through late summer and fall.
My next step is to stop ignoring my present life and go get a haircut and a gift for a friend's wedding shower. I don't want this obsession to get troublesome, because it's so fun!