The Journey | 2018 Grand Canyon Veteran Wilderness Expedition


TAKE THE JOURNEY

GRAND CANYON VETERAN WILDERNESS EXPEDITION


EXPEDITION SNAPSHOT

  • Location: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  • Eligibility: Veterans with verified service and a VA disability rating, who currently reside in Alabama, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas
  • Duration: Nine days total, including seven days on the Colorado River
  • Dates: Oct. 19-27
No Barriers Expedition FAQs: View other Frequently Asked Questions here

EXPEDITION DESCRIPTION

The Grand Canyon Veteran Wilderness Expedition, sponsored by Raytheon, is set on the Colorado River, running through the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

No Barriers co-founder and world-renowned blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer kayaked the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 2014, chronicling his journey in the book, No Barriers: A Blind Man's Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon. Four years later, a team comprising 14 veterans and four leaders will retrace half of Erik’s route from Lee’s Ferry to Phantom Ranch and hike out the Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Along the way, the fellow battle buddies will build lasting connections and learn they have no barriers that can’t be overcome.

The experience begins when participants arrive at Phoenix International Airport and meet their expedition leaders and fellow veterans before traveling to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. That evening, river guides from Arizona Raft Adventures will review the trip while the team gets to know each other, preps personal gear and packs equipment in dry bags. All meals, food and group camping gear are provided. Personal gear is available to borrow (see our FAQs for more details). Team members will depart Flagstaff before daybreak and travel to Lee’s Ferry, where they’ll launch into the Colorado River.

The team will float 87 miles over seven days, following the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon National Park. Days will be filled with reflection as they navigate the quiet stretches of river, preparing for the rapids to come. Participants will explore side canyons during day hikes and discover hidden historic sites along the way. Evenings will include gourmet meals, campfires, and thoughtful discussions with teammates.

The canyon experience concludes with a 9-mile hike up the Bright Angel Trail that gains 4,500 feet in elevation. Team members will share one final dinner together and travel back to Flagstaff for the night before departing for Phoenix the next day.

Throughout the experience, expedition leaders will facilitate No Barriers curriculum and remind team members that what’s within them is stronger than what’s in their way.

After the expedition, alumni are welcomed into the No Barriers family for ongoing support from our community and the possibility to be eligible for future opportunities with No Barriers USA.

ITINERARY

  • Oct. 19: Arrive in Phoenix, Arizona, and drive to Flagstaff
  • Oct. 20: Begin expedition with river launch at Lee’s Ferry
  • Oct. 21-25: Raft the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon
  • Oct. 26: Remove the rafts at Phantom Ranch and hike the Bright Angel Trail up to the South rim
  • Oct. 27: Depart early morning for Phoenix

Meet the Warriors

Anne Staley

Branch of Service: U.S. Air Force State: New Mexico Bio: Currently ...

Daniel Razo

Branch of Service: U.S. Marine Corps State: Texas Bio:Daniel Razo was ...

David Long

Branch of Service: U.S. Army & U.S. Air Force State: New Mexico Bio: ...

Edward Robles

Branch of Service: U.S. Navy State: California Bio: Edward grew up in ...

Gary Tetreault

Branch of Service: U.S. Army State: Arizona Bio: While in the military, ...

Justin Mithers

Branch of Service: U.S. Army State: Arizona Bio: Justin joined the Army ...

Kenny Taveras

Branch of Service: U.S. Marine Corps 

State: Texas

 Bio: Kenny ...

Moises Jasso

Branch of Service: U.S. Navy State: Texas Bio: Moises joined the military ...

Orlando Tellez

Branch of Service: U.S. Marine Corps State: Texas Bio: Orlando served 20 ...

Raymond Davis

Branch of Service: U.S. Navy State: Arizona Bio: Raymond was born in ...

Shawn Schwantes

Branch of Service: U.S. Air Force State: Texas Bio: Shawn served 20 years ...

Teresa McFarland

Branch of Service: U.S. Army State: California Bio: Teresa spent 10 years ...

Expedition Leaders

Derek Esposito Headshot

Derek Esposito

Warriors Manager | Expedition Leader, No Barriers Warriors

For Derek, pursuing transformative experiences in the mountains is his passion. ...

Hipolito Arriaga

Expedition Leader, No Barriers Warriors

The wilderness has been a deeply therapeutic place for me post-military ...

Jill Millkey

Expedition Leader, No Barriers Warriors

We are all a collection of moments, experiences, emotions, and decisions. We ...

Katelyn Sheehan

Expedition Leader, No Barriers Warriors

Katelyn is a USAF veteran who loves the way mountains humble and inspire; ...

Rachel Lauderbaugh

Expedition Leader, No Barriers Warriors

Rachel served in the Air Force at the age of 20, for 6 years. She grew up a ...

The climb doesn’t build courage and confidence. It’s already there. The climb is just a reminder. - John Toth, Director, No Barriers Warriors