Grand Canyon Adventures

On the Bucket List

The first time anyone first sees the Grand Canyon in its total vast “beingness,” is truly monumental.  Mooney Falls Grand Canyon AdventureThat is why it is on the Bucket List of many people who live in far corners of the world.  It’s almost inconceivable that a place could be so beautiful, while revealing a rich geological history of our Earth.

In 1983, Mark and I hiked to the bottom of the North Rim, down past Mooney Falls, and then a bit past Havasupai Falls.  There we camped out with 29 other hikers known as “The Nomads.”

Nomads at Bottom of Grand Canyon

You need to be in good shape if you engage in a hike like that. Because you’ll be wearing a backpack that will weigh at least 25 pounds with all the essentials.  This includes tent, sleeping bag, clothing, food, cookware and of course the obligatory bottle of wine and flask of brandy.

The “Lush Couple”

Mark and I became known as the “lush couple” because during the first evening at the campfire, we shared the brandy with the “night owls” and enjoyed a slice of coconut cream pie we had bought at a cafeteria just before the hike.

Somewhere along the way I sprained my groin so we paid to have a mule carry my backpack on the return journey up to the top of the rim.

Jody Slips Away

Unfortunately, not all 31 of us returned to the top of the rim.  A 31-year-old doctor named Jody Mack fell into the Colorado River while on a day hike from the Havasupai camping spot.  She stepped out onto a polished Muav Limestone ledge to touch the water, and she slipped in.  Without a life jacket she was barely able to keep her head up as the river carried her away.

River Rafts Grand Canyon AdventureBruce Simbala, whose boat was tied in the mouth of the Havasu, jumped into his boat, cut the bowline and rowed out to chase her down.  She was last seen rounding the bend in the river.  Simbala was unable to catch up.  16 days later, Jody’s body was found floating in the river 40 miles downstream.  You can read more of this story in a book called Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon.

Jody’s death cast a pall over the remainder of the Nomads’ journey.  But we realized that although we believe in the preciousness of life, we must always respect Nature for she can be unforgiving.

Flying Over the Grand Canyon

A couple of years later, when our friend Antoinette, and her son, Andreas, came to visit us from Switzerland.  They, like so many other curious Europeans, really wanted to take a look at the Grand Canyon. So they hired my father-in-law, Rolf, who at the time had a small Piper Cherokee, to fly them there. So I joined them in the four-seater Piper Cherokee and shot a documentary of the occasion.

As a video producer concerned about the disintegration and subsequent loss of 20-something-year-old VHS masters, I started digitizing some of the videos we shot, and rediscovered this one. At the time, linear editing was such a brutal process, that most videographers just performed “in-camera editing.” I spent some time re-editing it to some excellent tunes with my non-linear editing software, so grateful for the technology that would allow me to share this special (and vintage) time in my history…

It’s one of the first documentaries I ever made – circa 1985.  I hope you enjoy it!


Patty Mooney is a VP, Video Producer, Sound Technician, Teleprompter Operator and Video Editor at San Diego’s award-winning video production company, Crystal Pyramid Productions.