Oct 16

Rafting the Colorado River Through the Grand Canyon

Raft the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in the spring with periodic stops to hike in remote locations along the way?  Yes, please!!!  And so I invited my friend Evelyn to come along and we made reservations seventeen months prior to our departure date.  Yes seventeen months in advance–these trips sell out early!  When I was researching companies I came across C.R.A.T.E. (Colorado River And Trail Expeditions) and their five-day spring hikers special, while only travelling through half the Grand Canyon, caught my eye as it fit my calendar and my budget.

So after church on Easter Sunday we jumped into my car and headed to Marble Canyon where we would stay the night and then meet up with the group at Lee’s Ferry on Monday morning.  Below is an overview of each day with some of my favorite pics.  Enjoy!

Day 1: Lee’s Ferry to North Canyon–20 miles

On Monday morning we met up with our group at Lee’s Ferry. There were two rafts motorized rafts called S-Rigs. The guide powered the raft from the back. Food and drinks for the week were stored below the deck while all our gear was loaded in the mid-section and around the perimeter. Each raft carried 13-14 people and we rode in the front on top of the platform using the gear bags as seats.

 From the very beginning the views were spectacular. The farther we travelled along the river the deeper the canyon became.  As it deepened new layers of the canyon were exposed. One of the crew members was a geologist from the Smithsonian who pointed out interesting details and gave short talks explaining the formation of the canyon.  Having never taken a geology class I found it fascinating!

The first day was fairly rapid free. When we pulled up on the beach to camp for the night the first order of business was to claim a sleeping location somewhere along the beach. Evelyn and I were a little slow getting off the raft so when we went to find a place to camp all the good, close places were taken.  So we had to hike a little farther inland  laden down with our gear bags and the promise of a more “wilderness experience”. We would not make that mistake again!

The company provided us each with a cot, foam mattress, a sleeping bag, two gear bags and an ammo box.  The first gear bag held the items previously listed.  The second gear bag was filled with our personal items.  The ammo box was for our carry-ons which we wanted access to during the day (sunscreen, camera, rain gear, etc.).  There were no tents. If it rained we had a sheet of plastic to put over us. Everyone slept cowboy style under the stars. This was a first for me–and it was beautiful!

Our first night wilderness experience–hoping no large critters would come slinking down the canyon in the middle of the night.

The crew cooked dinner (Salmon the first night!) and then we were off to bed. We fell asleep to the sound of the river under a blanket of stars.

Our guides and cooks.

Day 2: North Canyon to Eminence–mile 20-44

After breakfast the day began with a 2 mile hike in North Canyon. It was an out and back with a small pool at the end. Swallowtail caterpillars covered a small tree.  The cactus blooms were magnificent!

One of my favorite pics!

Once on the rafts we were in rapids immediately.  The first 10 miles (miles 20-30) were known as the Roaring 20’s. At mile 32 we came across Vasey’s Paradise where fountains of water burst forth from the rock.  It was so beautiful!

We had lunch at Redwall Canyon which was an amazing cavern filled with a sandy beach.

While here our friend the geologist pointed out some fossils…

At mile 39 we stopped for a short hike up Redbud Alcove.

At mile 41 we came across a group waiting for a helicopter rescue. One of the guys in their group had broken his ankle scrambling over rocks.

At mile 44 we pulled off to camp at Eminence. I decided to wash my hair that night and wow was the water cold–a scalp numbing 46 degrees!  Truth be told, this was the only day I washed my hair!

Day 3: Eminence to Carbon Canyon–miles 44-65

After breakfast we rafted a couple of miles to Saddle Canyon where we stopped to hike and eat lunch. The trail was a single track technical climb for two miles to a waterfall once blocked by a large boulder. The boulder was blown out by a huge storm providing easy access to the gently cascading water in the narrow canyon.

Another one of my favorite pics! Love this waterfall!

After lunch we rafted past the Puebloan granaries located high on the cliffs above.

I zoomed in to get this shot. the granaries were located high on the canyon wall. Native Americans used them to store their grain centuries ago.

At mile 62 we found the Little Colorado River to be flowing blue (after storms it often flows brown due to silt runoff). Since the water was clean we beached the rafts, grabbed our floatation devices turning them into floating diapers and floated through the small rapids in the warm water–so fun!

It was so cool to see the contrast in colors where the Colorado River met the Little Colorado River.


Evelyn floating down the river through the rapids.


That night we camped at Carbon Canyon where we had a view of the Desert View Watchtowers (sorry, no pic!).

Day 4: Carbon Canyon to Zoroaster–mile 65-85

We began the day with an amazing 4 mile hike in Carbon Canyon. The first mile required scrambling over an old rockfall. Next we hiked through a slot canyon with a narrow stream flowing through it. This opened up to an area where the rocks had been turned ninety degrees due to the fault lying below it. We hiked along the fault line with amazing views of the North Rim before heading back to the Colorado River at Lava Canyon.

At lunch we stopped at Tanner where one of the guys in our group who had been sick most of the time was helicoptered out. The afternoon was spent running numerous large rapids–I was drenched!  As I wrote earlier the water was 46 degrees so being baptized by a wave was quite an exhilarating experience.  We wore rain gear when going through the rapids to help keep us dry.  The platform we were sitting on had ropes which crisscrossed the mat wear we sat.  As we prepared to enter a rapid the guide would let us know if it was a one-hand or two-hands rapid referring to how many hands should be used to hang on.  I sat in the front and center so I took a few in the face–so fun!


That night we camped at Zoroaster.

Day 5: Zoroaster to Phantom Ranch–mile 85-88. Then hiked out to South Rim.

We had an early start and rafted the three remaining miles to Phantom Ranch. There were four of us getting off there. Everyone else was continuing on for another week to raft the entire canyon. It was a beautiful hike out and up covering 9.5 miles with 5000 feet of elevation gain. We arrived at the South Rim around 2:30pm ready for a shower, a real bed and dinner!

One last thing on a bit of an awkward topic but if you’ve read this far you will probably be okay with it. People often ask me what you do for a bathroom on a trip like this. So here is how it works. First, if you are simply peeing you pee right into the river. That’s right girls, we had to get our feet wet; so much easier for guys! For other business you used the “groover”. Actually you had a choice between two groovers. One was an indoor groover. The crew set up a little tent with a lined square box topped with a toilet seat and lid. In the old model there was no toilet seat thus the box it would leave a groove on ones behind, thus the name groover.

Then there was the outdoor groover preferred by most. For this one the crew would find the most scenic private location and simply set up the box with the seat. The view from the outdoor groover was the topic of many dinner conversations, “Have you seen the view from tonight’s outdoor groover?!! It’s amazing! You really need to check it out!” I know! Probably too much info but…people wonder about things like this!

Outdoor groover!

The view from the outdoor groover on the last night of the trip! 🙂

We had a great time and I would highly recommend CRATE to anyone who was looking for a company to raft with in the future.  The cost for our five-day trip was $1600 and it was well worth it.  The guides were very knowledgable and skilled.  The food was great.  The trip was well-organized.  And the people were a lot of fun!

Oct 29

Thursday Morning Thoughts Week Two: Refusing to Conform

(Once again, while anyone is welcome to read this post, these Thursday Morning Reflections are meant specifically for those who are in the Bible study I am leading on Wednesday nights.  And thank you to those of you who come out–I love being there with you all on Wednesdays!).

Last night we were inspired by the courage of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, three young men under incredible pressure to conform to the culture of Babylon.  In fact they were threatened with an excruciating death if they would not bow their knee,  Yet, they stood their ground and made one of the greatest statements of faith in the Bible: Our God is able to save us.  He is willing to save us.  And even if He doesn’t save us we are not going to bow!

Wow!  Where did this courage come from?  I believe it was rooted in their faith in God and supported by their knowledge of who they were.  Babylon had changed their names and tried to strip them of their identity.  The world could call them whatever it wanted to call them, but they knew who they were–they were Jews, followers of Jehovah.  When they were first taken as captives they made a decision and resolved that they would not defile themselves.  In a sense they drew a proverbial line in the sand and said they would not cross it.  That resolve was still evident years later.  They would obey God and God only, even under threat of death.  It is one thing to say “God I trust you.”  It is another thing to have actions which support that statement.  They knew they could trust in God’s goodness and power and his willingness to act on their behalf.  As you know from our study last night, God came through for them in a mighty way!  And also as we discussed last night, this God is the same God we serve.  And he is still good, he is still able, he is still willing to act on our behalf.  Have we drawn our line in the sand?  In the Old Testament, Joshua did this when he said that as for he and his house, they would serve the Lord.  In the New Testament, Peter and John did it when they said they would obey God rather than man.  It is our turn now.  We are the ones on center stage and we have incredible examples of faith to inspire us.  When our faith is rooted in Christ it gives us access to incredible courage in difficult circumstances.  Where is your line?  What is your statement?  Trust him and then let your actions fall inline with that confession.

As we closed last night there were two verses to consider memorizing.  The first one focuses on trust followed by obedient actions.  You might consider this one if you are up against some difficult situation and you are wanting to handle it God’s way.  Here is it:

Isaiah 26 8

The second one focuses more on the peace God provides when we keep our focus on him.  There is no Bible study next week so I am going to write a supplementary post next Thursday specifically on having peace in crazy or alarming circumstances.  You might consider memorizing this verse if you are currently in the midst of a trial or fiery situation and need peace.  Here you go:

Isaiah 26 3



Nov 15

Boston for A21: From Couch to 5k – There’s an App for That!

For those of you looking to do a 5k and especially those of you just starting out and looking for tools to support you in your training, there is an app for that.  In fact there are a few (thanks for the heads up on this Patty!).  While I have never trained with these I did look through what they offer and here are two to consider if you have an iPhone.  I am sure if you have a different type of smart phone you will find similar apps.

Go to the App Store and put c25k (stands for “couch to 5k”) into search and this page will come up.


On this page are two different free apps.  I looked through both and they seemed very similar.  The first one is the c25k app.  Here is what it looks like when you open it.


The second is called 5K Runner and here is a pic of its screen.


From what I can tell both programs provide a run/walk program with an audio coach which alerts you when to run or walk.  The training program is 8 weeks long with three trainings per week and each session lasts 30 – 35 minutes.  As you progress through the weeks the amount of time split between running and walking supports your increasing fitness level.  I believe you can also listen to your own playlists within the app and the audio coach will just speak above your music when it is time to switch from running to walking.

Overall they both look like great tools for starting out.  While we are still a few weeks out from starting our official Boston for A21 program I would encourage those who are doing 5K’s to test these tools out so you can find the one that works best for you.  If anyone knows of any better apps or if you try these and have comments please be sure to share your thoughts by posting a comment.  🙂


Nov 04

Empty Cups: Fighting Hunger One Cup at a Time

Cup one

Here is a unique fundraising event that raises both money and awareness in the fight to end hunger.  Students from APU and Citrus College have donated hand crafted ceramic cups/mugs to be used in an event called Empty Cups.  The cups are available for purchase on Friday night, November 8 from 5pm – 7pm at Classic Coffee in Glendora.  When you purchase a cup Classic Coffee will fill it up with a hot beverage.  Afterwards you keep the cup as a reminder of those whose cups are empty in our local community.  Each cup is unique and one of a kind. Here are some examples.

Cup 4

Cup 2

Cup 3I also attended their spring event, Empty Bowls.  Here is a pic of the bowl I purchased.

Proceeds from the event support local hunger relief programs including Shepherd’s Pantry, St. Vincent de Paul, & Glendora Police Department food vouchers. This event is hosted by First Christian Church of Glendora who also hosts Empty Bowls.  Other sponsors include Classic Coffee, Citrus College, and students of Azusa Pacific University.

I have held my 20/20 Bible study group at Classic Coffee for the last three years and really appreciate the heart of these folks and love their coffee! In many ways Classic Coffee is like my second office.  They are also the sponsors of the running club I am part of–Glendora Ridge Runners.  I will be down there Friday night supporting their event and I hope to see some of you as well.  Below are all the details in case I missed anything. 🙂

Empty cups poster



Oct 29

Yelow Jackets 101: What I Learned From the Attack

After yesterdays yellow jacket attack I decided to give myself a quick education on the little critters so as to keep from having another painful encounter.  And it was painful! My friend Amber and I accidently stepped on a yellow jacket nest (they build their nest underground) on Upper Colby and disturbed the colony.  Lest you think the way to avoid them is to stay off trails, think again.  Yellow jackets nest in lawns and gardens and are great lovers of picnics and barbecues.  I have been stung a few times by bees but it was nothing in comparison to the yellow jacket sting.  I was stung three times and Amber seven times (later that day she became sick from the venom) and all ten stings were through our clothes.  These little guys are aggressive!  So I thought I would post what I learned in hope that it would help someone else.  The following paragraphs in italics were taken directly from various websites with my comments following.

“If you’re stung by a yellow jacket, wasp or hornet, run! The insect may leave behind a chemical that marks you as the enemy, inciting other yellow jackets to attack. Don’t swat at the insects, just get away quickly.”  Yellow jackets can mark you with a scent!!!  It’s as if they paint a target on you.  This is exactly what it was like yesterday.  Once one stung us we were bombarded–swarmed.  We had been hiking up a steep section of trail but it was amazing how ones fear of falling on a steep section can be quickly overcome by fear of yellow jackets.  Picture two grown women running full speed down a trail letting out a scream each time they were stung and then laughing uncontrollably because it was so insane.  Incredibly horrible and incredibly humorous at the same time.

“Yellow jackets are more aggressive than other stinging insects such as wasps, hornets, mud daubers or bees. Yellow jackets can sting and bite. Since they don’t lose their stinger, they can sting numerous times, and will do so.”  Did you get that?  They can sting and BITE!  Unlike bees they do not die after stinging.  They just keep coming back for more.  In fact one hitchhiked under Amber’s pack on the back of her shirt and then, just when we thought we were safe and it was over–BAM!  Got her.  So perhaps you are thinking, “Kill them!”  Oh no!  Please read on.

“Don’t smash or crush a yellow jacket. They give off an alarm pheromone that alerts others in the area to attack.”  If you smash them, step on them, etc. the scent will call others to come and avenge their death!  What a crazy little community they have going on there.  I only hope I can be half as loyal to my friends as they are to one another.

“Avoid scented perfumes, hairspray, lotions and brightly colored clothes. Yellow jackets are attracted to them.”  Amber was in bright pink, I was in black.  She was stung seven times, I was stung three times.  I think I will be staying in black.

“Wear heavy clothing when walking in wooded areas. Lightweight clothing may not be tough enough to protect you from a sting.”  No kidding!  As mentioned before, all our stings were through our clothing.

So I learned a lot yesterday.  When it was over I told Amber that if we ever ran into a mountain lion or a bear I would stand with her, or anyone else I am with, to face it–and I mean that.  But when it comes to yellow jackets I am out of there–and I mean that, too!

Oct 09

Back to the Blog

I am sitting at a Starbucks on a fall afternoon in Connecticut and the trees are just starting to change.  It’s beautiful and a great environment for writing.  So its back to the blog.  I put the blog down after finishing Vineman knowing I would go back to it at some point.  I guess I needed a break from it like I needed a break from heavy training.  But like all good things that you love there comes a time to pick it back up again.  I am going to continue to utilize the blog to post the stories and pics from trail running adventures with friends (hint, hint to my friends that we need to plan some now that the weather is no longer 100 degrees!) and share pastoral musings from those experiences, but I am also going to use it as a place to coach, mentor and disciple the college students who I am working with in The Timothy Project.  So for those of you who are regular readers of the blog I thought I would write this quick post so you would know the context of some of the upcoming blogs that are marked #TheTimothyProject.

The Timothy Project is a 10 week journey supporting college students (age 18-23) from Faith in the deepening of their faith and the unleashing of their God-given potential.  So when you see a blog with #TheTimothyProject as part of the title you will know the post was specifically written for that group.  Of course you are more than welcome to read and comment on the blog, I just wanted to provide some context. 🙂

Jul 21

Opportunity to Win Some Cool A21 Gear…7 Days to Vineman!

Vineman is 7 days away!!  Seven days from right now (as I write this) I will be somewhere in the vineyards of Sonoma cycling 112 miles on my bike. 🙂 Truth be told, I am a little nervous, but also VERY EXCITED!  As many of you know I am racing this event on behalf of The A21 Campaign in their endeavor to rescue, rehabilitate and restore the lives of girls shattered by human trafficking.  I have personally visited the shelter in Thessaloniki and was so moved by the stories of the girls and their recovery.  It is an honor to be partnered with A21.

A21 also has some pretty cool gear to help spread the word about trafficking.  So here is what I am going to do.  Each person donating a minimum of $10 through my Crowdrise fundraising site http://www.crowdrise.com/dawnjackson/fundraiser/dawnjackson will be entered into a drawing to win A21 product.  (If you have already donated you will be automatically entered.)  To be eligible donations need to be posted into the Crowdrise site by 11:59 pm Sunday, July 29, 2012.  The drawing for the A21 gear will be filmed and posted on my blog and/or YouTube by Friday, August 3 (maybe sooner if I am not too wiped out from my race).  I will announce the posting of the video through Twitter @RunDawnJackson and Facebook.  I will also contact the winners to get shipping info and sizing if the prize is apparel.  Here is what I will be giving away:

Two “Because” T-Shirts

Three “Key to Freedom” Necklaces

Four of the new summer look “Because” armbands

I am also hunting for another cool shirt which I saw a few months back.  If I find it I will add it to the list.

When on my Crowdrise fundraising site they will add in a suggested processing fee.  You can delete that fee if you choose.

Evelyn will have access to my twitter account next Saturday and will be sending out pictures and updates all day long.  You can follow me on Twitter @RunDawnJackson.  It’s going to be a long day…and I greatly appreciate your support!