The 2004 American Adventure Almanac (cont.)

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
whitewater rafting, grand canyon, arizona

"What a Grand….Canyon": The mellow side of Arizona's famed big hole

Raft the Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Trip: Spanning up to three weeks and 277 miles, through scores of rapids and 1.7 billion years of geology, rafting the Colorado River in one of the world's seven natural wonders is breathtaking—if you can get on it.
The Plan: Sign on early. The majority of the 169,950 user-day rafting slots go to commercial outfitters, and even with trips costing upwards of $200 a day, much of 2004 is sold out. Meanwhile, the waiting list for private trips has grown so long—more than 8,000 names and a 20-plus-year wait—that the Park Service has stopped taking names.
Crux Move: Outfitters will open up no-show slots to wait-listers, and if they can't get fill-ins on the original date, they'll set up an additional trip in September. Find outfitters through the Park Service (800-959-9164, and join their waiting lists.
Epic Factor: 6. Plan to paddle your heart out through most rapids, though the outfitters' gourmet meals sure take the edge off the exertion.

Climb the Grand Teton, Wyoming

The Trip: This iconic peak, looming 13,766 feet above Jackson Hole in the Teton Range, is one of America's hallmark mountaineering destinations.
The Plan: Get expert training on a privately guided climb with Exum Mountain Guides ($650–$700; 307-733-2297, Two days of climbing instruction—including skills such as belaying and rappelling—are followed by a two-day venture to the summit.
Crux Move: The biggest challenge: maneuvering along Wall Street, a tapered ledge. At its end the rock plummets about 1,200 feet to the valley floor.
Epic Factor: 9. Ground school will build up your technical know-how, but you can't crash-course your quads into shape. Train at home with day hikes and a lot of mileage on a StairMaster.

Hike the Appalachian Trail, Georgia to Maine

The Trip: The ultimate do-it-yourself summer adventure through the surprisingly wild Appalachians. Knocking off the 2,170 or so miles of the classic Georgia-to-Maine route takes anywhere from three to six months.
The Plan: You don't need reservations, and camping is free, but you do need a plan. Get a head start by beginning at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, in May. You'll hike north with spring's blooms, skipping the mid-Atlantic summer swelter and the August crowds in the White Mountains.
Crux Move: Dream up a good nom de voyage: Even section hikers use trail names, like White Blaze.
Epic Factor: 8–10. Burning up to 6,000 calories per day will make you fantasize about food, so spring for that ultralight cookset. For advice on how to pick a hiking companion, read Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods.