Sunrise at Lee's Ferry. A couple inches of snow fell here the day before we arrived!
Seth unintentionally placed his kayak in the perfect spot for this photo. The muddy Colorado meets Havasu Creek.
Seth Swallen and Daphnee enjoy the unique hard rock slot canyon of Clear Creek not far above Phantom Ranch. Clear Creek and Vishnu Creek, both in the inner gorge, are quite different from most of the slots you can hike from the river; they cut through hard rock -- schist and granite -- and take on a much different shape the limestone canyons downstream.
Crashing through the tail waves at Lava Falls.
Paddling into Crystal Rapid on a cold, sunny day.
Jackie Selevan checks out a cool notch at the base of a side canyon somewhere in the first ten miles -- definitely can't fit a raft in here.
Coming into Deer Creek through one of the most beautiful corridors in the entire canyon.
Looking upstream from Deer Creek Falls through the narrowest section of the Grand Canyon.
Daphnee Tuzlak and Jackie make the cold swim across the pool to access the slot at North Canyon.
This view at Silver Grotto is reminiscent of Zion National Park's Subway. The water is frigid in these pools at this time of year.
Daphnee Tuzlak warms up as we leave our sunny lunch spot at Redwall Cavern.
Looking down at Rattlesnake camp on our way up to the Tabernacle. This camp clearly gets a lot of use, but it's a new favorite!
Jackie looks out over the canyon from the top of the Tabernacle. This hike is newly at the top of my list -- it's fairly easy and you top out on an isolated butte 2200' above the river.
Rattlesnake camp is a stark contrast from Tanner not far upstream. The canyon walls really begin to close in here as you approach the inner gorge.

Light and Fast: Kayak self-support in the Grand Canyon

How Nick Gottlieb has done seven Canyon trips in eight years— the kayak self-support.

Photos and words by Nick Gottlieb

There’s a surprisingly common debate about what’s the best way to experience the Canyon. When I tell people I'm doing a 10-day Grand Canyon trip, I often get a response along the lines of, "Why? I'd want to spend as much time in there as possible."

The answer is, of course, yes, we'd all like to spend as much time in there as possible. But there are a few things missing from that assessment.

First, doing a self-support trip allows you to go just about every year. I've been on seven trips in the last eight years—four kayak, three raft. Winter permits are a dime a dozen and taking 7-10 days off work is a lot easier than 28. Self-support kayak trips are usually logistically easier to pull off than a big rafting trip, which makes it possible to go on short notice. In other words, apply for those cancellation permits!

Second, kayaks move fast. Really fast. On my most recent trip (this past Christmas), we would typically get on the water between 10 and 11, do a lunch stop, paddle a bit more, go for a hike, and end up at camp before dark after traveling 25-30 miles. We did some shorter days and one longer day, but we had time for one or more hikes every day. We passed a couple raft trips that were doing a lot less hiking than our group was, despite being on much longer trips. The overhead of setting up and breaking down camp, the slower pace on the water, and the typically larger group make it hard to make miles on a raft trip.

The more you go, the more you get to be in the Grand Canyon. I’m just trying to get as much time in there as I can before they put in that tram to the LCR!

More on C&K

–The Confluence: The sacred, threatened heart of the Grand Canyon

—Grand Canyon Escalade: It’s back

—Digital Feature: How You Will See the Canyon With Fresh Eyes