“I had just gotten off the river after my second Grand Canyon trip and returned to Flagstaff. I got it for so many reasons but a big one was to represent strength. I swam Bedrock rapid and got a pretty nasty injury on my left leg. I joked that it was a good thing you didn’t have to row with your legs. It’s a nice reminder to just keep rowing through whatever your going through I guess…”
Sarah shared her explanation with me when I asked about a post on her Instagram page that caught my eye. It’s not everyday that a tattoo of a Sawyer oar shows up in my feed, so I knew there’d be a good story at foot.
“It was April of 2017 when a friend of mine won a permit to raft through the Grand Canyon. As the trip leader, he only had about two weeks to prepare for a 14 day, 226 mile trip down the Colorado river. This seemed like quite the undertaking and he was wondering whether or not he should even go through the effort to make it happen. I had never been rafting before, yet I was trying to convince him that he absolutely had to seize this amazing opportunity. My enthusiasm and availability made me a good candidate for the trip so I was invited to join. I thought, “Yes, I have to start somewhere!” We ended up putting together a group of four people and two catarafts and prepared very quickly for this upcoming adventure.
The feeling of excitement I had during this time of preparation is something I will never forget. I was nervous about doing something I had never done before and anxious to learn as much as I could about rowing an oar rig through whitewater. One of my fondest memories of this trip was rowing through my first big rapid. As I wrapped my hands around the two Sawyer oars I felt like I was prepared to take on anything. My line put our boat right next to a big hole and I felt the water try to rip the oar out of my hand. Both oars miraculously stayed in my hands and before I knew it, the whitewater returned to calm, slow moving current. A feeling of pure joy swept over me and I was instantly hooked on rowing whitewater. I loved knowing that I had the best tools to navigate through the amazing amount of water running through the canyon. After experiencing feeling truly connected to the river for the first time, I never wanted that trip to end.
Lots of people say rafting the Grand Canyon is the trip of a lifetime but I didn’t want that to be true. It had been so magical and transformative that I promised myself at the takeout “I’m coming back as soon as possible, and for as long as possible.” When one of my best friends called and invited me on another grand canyon trip in 2019, I didn’t hesitate for a second before saying yes and paid my deposit right away. This time we would be rowing the entire 281 miles and had 30 days to do so. This month on the water turned out to be much more eventful than my first trip in so many ways. It was winter (Jan-Feb) so the weather was all over the place. We had one boat flip, and out of 14 people, 10 of us took an unexpected swim.
Towards the end of the trip, it was suggested that the group get tattoos to remember our time spent in the canyon. I had always wanted a tattoo and had many ideas of what to get but it was just something I had never done before because I was scared. When the suggestion of an oar tattoo was brought up, my decision was made instantly. I thought, “Yes, I have to start somewhere.”
For me, the oar represents so many positive things and reminds me of my time spent overcoming fears and navigating obstacles. It is nice to have a daily reminder that if you want something, there is never a better time to go after it than right now. The Sawyer Dynelite oar on my ankle is a simple image that brings back memories of great times with great friends exploring amazing places.”
Well said, Sarah. Until next time, Eddy Out.