The winds howled in the night and rain sporadically fell in large drops, but we were well protected under our tarp which we had tucked into the mouth of a cave. When we rose to pack up camp it was cold but the skies had cleared and the winds had calmed. The river water had also dropped, resembling more of the typical flow of the Colorado and revealing large slabs of stone that allowed us to walk further down this side of the canyon. We followed the newly exposed route about another mile down river until we were stopped again at a "hitching beach". We settled into the cold sand, layered in all of our clothes looking upriver for any approaching rafts, happy that at least our waiting area would have different scenery today than the day prior.
About an hour into our wait Shilo dog began to get excited about something approaching. We thought at first it was our long awaited raft ride but realized quickly it was Jen and Dan hiking up the shore. We happily greeted each other, warned them that it might be a long wait and settled back into the sand together as they pulled out all of their clothing layers to stay warm. Our warnings about the long wait to come however were unnecessary, not long after we were startled to see one yellow raft floating towards us. We jumped up in excitement and I ran to the rivers edge to flag the boat down.
The raft pulled ashore and two guys hopped out to say hello to the smiling hikers, still a bit confused as to where we came from and where we were headed. They were happy to ferry us across the river so we all hopped in their boat just as the rest of their rafting party approached, four more boats filled with smiling, confused people who welcomed us to their party.
Together we floated across and slightly down river to the confluence of the Little Colorado River where all of the boats pulled ashore and we were able to meet the rest of the party and answer a few of their questions about our mysterious appearance. As we talked we were handed fresh fruit, beer and bloody marys. The crew explained that they were taking a short hike up the side canyon and if we would like to join them we could then raft the rest of the afternoon in their boats. I was quick to jump at the offer and together we hiked a short distance up the Little Colorado impressed by the unique white and turquoise colors of the river.
After our side trip we parted ways with Jen and Dan who decided to continue the route on foot and piled onto the front of one of the rafts. We floated through a combination of calm waters and white rapids throughout the day and after our first soaking from the icy whitecaps I wished that I was wearing a dry suit like all of the other rafters. When we stopped on a shady beach for lunch I quickly stripped off my wet clothes and jumped into my sleeping bag to warm up. Goose heated a hot water bottle to warm me further and my shivering soon stopped. We shared in the pasta lunch with the group and returned to the water for another stretch of splashing rapids. It was an amazing experience, but I was ready for the warmth of dry land when they dropped us at a beach just before sundown.
Rafting down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon is by far the coolest hitch I have ever gotten and this was the easiest twenty mile day I had ever had on trail...we were happy hikers!