Last January, members of Demshitz and their friends and family paddled down the Grand Canyon on a 14-day, self-supported trip. They experienced adventures, endured some trials, enjoyed many laughs and took some great photos during their voyage. Canoe & Kayak got a chance to talk with Dave Fusili about the trip and learned what he had to say.

Canoe & Kayak Magazine: Coldest winter in 25 years, eh? How was that?
Dave Fusili: Well, I would have to say the cold made things a bit more challenging for sure, but we had great group morale so it worked just fine. The coldest part was not on or off the water, but the transition from our river gear to camping gear. This was the only time that really sucked, and it was mainly the cold on our hands. I would do it again, though, at the same time of the year—assuming it would not again be the coldest temps that the canyon had seen in the last 25 years.

So why self-supported?
The challenge of seeing what you could fit was really cool. It’s just an amazing feeling having everything you need for that amount of time in your kayak. Plus, you don’t have to load and unload huge rafts, and you are living for 14 days just out of your kayak!

What were the challenges of self-supported?
I had two real big challenges. First, every morning I was wondering how the hell I got all this stuff into my kayak the day before, but it would not fit now, especially after I had drunk about four beers of space out of the way? The second problem, which may have created the first problem, was getting enough beer in the boat for a two-week float.

What did you gain from the experience that you may not have if it hadn’t been self-supported?
It gave me strength. I think it is a bit more rewarding doing a self-supported trip. It feels a bit more badass! More accomplished, I guess.

Any crazy moments?
Yeah. So Carly (my sister) had a rough time on day four. It was still cold as hell out there, and we were in a tight section of the river where you couldn’t scout or portage. She swam two times that day and got really shook up and cold. Going down, I looked back and saw her upside down for the third time, and was like “Oh shit here we go again this is going to be bad.” Then … I watched her roll up! I almost cried in excitement and relief for her. It was one of the coolest things that happened for me on that trip.

One other thing that’s not as crazy or cool: I was taking a picture of camp at night high up on the cliff, and as I started my descent back to camp I realized I had sat on a cactus. So my good friends Matt and Jessica had to pick cactus out of my cactass for a while that night.

How did it feel running this trip with your brother and sister?
It was an amazing experience doing a self-supported trip with my siblings! The Canyon itself is hard to put into words for me. Being able to see their faces and to experience such an amazing place as the Grand Canyon with your family members is something we all wish we could do. So saying that, I’m just thankful to have a family such as the one I have. They kicked ass!! Dad, you’re next!

Tell me about paddling with the rest of the crew, any particularly special moments on the river or trails?
We had an amazing group with us! Craig was our tour guide. Craig had been down the Canyon four times prior to this trip. Matt and Clay tied for the most stoked people in the group. I’m not sure if either of them ever stopped smiling? Jeremy (J Dog) was the permit holder and also won the award for best food on the trip. Tommy was our photographer. Graham Nation Seiler was our comic relief! No matter what time it was or how cold it was, we could have had icicles hanging off of our helmets, and Graham had us laughing. Rob a.k.a. Referee Rob was always looking out for us all.  Drinking our beer if we had too much to drink that night. Or making sure we didn’t fall in the river that night. Andy was eating butter by the stick to get as many calories as possible. Ty ran more rapids twice on the Canyon that anyone of us. Paul won best dressed. Every night at the camp fire, Paul had on these amazing sort of rainbow pants. Jessica was wondering how the hell she ended up on a 14-day kayak trip with Demshitz. We can be a bit ridiculous at times … or all the time?

As brother Rob said and I quote, “ Many times out there you couldn’t help but feel like real life ‘Goonies,’ just a pack of kids wandering about, hiking up creek beds, climbing up waterfalls and jumping off cliffs. This same feeling is a big reason why I think that so many of us continue to kayak and explore the outdoors.”

I think that quote really puts the Canyon into perspective and reminds me of a word I use a lot … Demshitz.

The Crew setting up for a group shot. Photo credit: Demshitz