Seventeen days. Two hundred miles. Eight guys. Four boats.
This was all part of a Grand Canyon National Park rafting adventure that gave seven young men who grew up in Batesville, along with another friend, the adventure of a lifetime.
Organizer David Hortemiller, Indianapolis, guided rafts commercially in West Virginia one summer while in college. While talking to other guides, he heard the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon was an amazing trip. However, a noncommercial trip is exclusive to those who are chosen from a lottery a year in advance.
He entered the permit lottery in February 2011 and won a launch date for May 14, 2012. The permit allowed up to eight people to go and permitted up to 16 days on the river between Lees Ferry and the Diamond Creek Takeout. They went an additional day beyond that to Pearce Ferry Takeout.
The other seven adventurers included his brothers Tom Hortemiller, Batesville, and Jon Hortemiller, Bloomington; and friends Gordon Lang, Washington, D.C., Joe Vonderheide, Tuscaloosa, Ala., Ben Cooley, Muncie, Teddy Cooley, Batesville, and Jon Catlett, Kentucky.
Vonderheide recalls, “In preparation for this trip, we each had to get in physical shape because the trip was going to be extremely rigorous. We also read as much as we could about what to expect in the Grand Canyon.”
Ben Cooley adds, “Six months before the trip, we secured an outfitter who got us the boats, gear and food .... Then we spent time getting pumped up by watching YouTube videos of the major rapids on the river, going through our gear, e-mailing each other about the trip and planning our method of transportation to Flagstaff, Ariz.”
Their outfitter, Moenkopi Riverworks, Flagstaff, packed all the food. Hortemiller reveals meat was prefrozen into an ice block and put into the cooler. The group also had a dairy and produce cooler and a menu they followed for every meal, as food was packed accordingly. Water was filtered out of the river using a battery-powered water purifier.