A winter rafting and hiking trip along the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park is a gamble with the elements. While the days can be pleasant, the nights can be below freezing and the water is deadly cold. But the rewards can be worth the risk. Outdoors editor Rich Landers followed a group of rafters with a winter permit (see story
) for the first third of their 30-day trip in February 2014. These photos offer a glimpse of the expedition and the progression of the canyon. The trip starts at Lee’s Ferry, a National Park Service site 16 miles downstream from Page, Ariz., and Lake Powell. Gradually the Colorado River carves deeper into time as the canyon walls get higher and the river and its fabled whitewater rapids become more remote and gnarly. Landers ultimately leaves the group at Phantom Ranch and hikes out the Bright Angel Trail, finishing on ice and snow at the South Rim as the rest of the rafters continue floating into Middle Granite Gorge toward some of the most challenging rapids in North America.