Massage in the Canyon
It was mid December when my wife casually mentioned that Emily had just obtained a permit for 6/23 for the Grand Canyon. “What?” I exclaimed. A Grand permit is a big deal, boaters wait years for a private permit known as a “DIY” trip. Emily is a Chemistry teacher at the small private high school in our small NH town . My wife is the accounting/payroll person there. The School emphasizes outdoor education and activities including white water kayaking. The prior year Emily had taken a group of students on a short section of the River and was so taken by the Experience she immediately entered the lottery for a permit.
Emily had been to see me a couple times for a stubborn knot in her right shoulder. Half joking I said to my wife, “Ask her if she needs a Massage Therapist on the trip”. Almost forty years ago I had lived in Colorado, worked at a ski resort and went on a few white water trips, the longest was six days. Ever since I kept saying to myself and others, someday I want to do the Grand. Thirty eight years flashed past, filled with career, marriage, one daughter, divorce, second marriage, step son, more career, massage school, health issues, etc.
A couple days later my wife informed me I was on the trip. What? Just like that I was on a private trip and had an assignment. I gave Emily a deposit for my share of permit and out fitter fees, began research on gear. I purchased a smaller lighter massage table and hunted for a waterproof bag for it. Emily began filling the trip with other participants and tending to the thousand details of a trip leader. Then COVID 19 arrived.
In December here in NH covid was a whisper from China. “Its just a different flu and will be over by late June we all said. The virus arrived, took off with shutdowns and economic disruption including State orders for Massage Therapists to suspend practicing.
The National Park Service, administrator of the Canyon put all river launches on hold until 5/4, offered permit holders similar launch dates in 2022 or refunds. We held our breath and our launch date. Then another hold till 6/13. Again we crossed our fingers and continued planning. June 3d they said we could launch on original permit date. Requirements were temperature logs, masks, and distancing . On June 18th Emily and I loaded my minivan with gear, food, beer and a massage table and headed West.