Grand Canyon Trip Coverage – Colorado Sun

Steve Baskis got off line while kayaking in House Rapid, the first serious whitewater in the Grand Canyon. He veered left into the maw of a truck-sized hole he couldn’t see. It swallowed his kayak. He rolled up. It flipped him again. He rolled upright again.

He heard faint yelling from his friends — “Hup! Hup! Hup!” — barely audible over the roar.

He couldn’t see his fellow paddlers.

But that wasn’t troubling. Baskis hasn’t seen anything — not even light — since a roadside bomb tore through his Army truck in Iraq in 2008, sending shrapnel into his face and killing Victor Cota, a friend sitting next to him.

A decade later, Baskis was digging his paddle into the Colorado River and following his ears — chasing those “Hups!” — back to his pod of kayaking guides. They were hooting and congratulating him on his exceptional paddling through one of the rowdier rapids in the canyon.


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Vanessa Jones

Committe Co-Chair

Vanessa A. Jones is a dynamic force dedicated to fostering
inclusivity, encouraging discussion, and promoting a culture of
belonging in the outdoor sports community. Hailing from
Washington, DC, she brings a wealth of diverse experiences and
perspectives to her endeavors.
As a US Army veteran and ordained Chaplain with a focus on
seniors and caretakers, Vanessa is deeply committed to serving
others. Her work as a patient-caretaker advocate reflects her
passion for supporting vulnerable populations and ensuring their
voices are heard.
Currently, Vanessa is employed by a resettlement agency, where
she confronts challenges head-on with resilience and
compassion. As a single, Black woman veteran, she embraces
the unique hurdles she faces, viewing them as opportunities for
growth and empowerment.
In her downtime, she wears many hats, including that of a
missionary, spreading hope and positivity wherever she goes.
Weekends are spent paddling, immersing herself in West African
dance and finding solace and joy in nature’s embrace.
Vanessa is committed to equitable principles, ensuring that
everyone’s opinions are valued and heard. Through her
unwavering dedication and inclusive leadership, Vanessa is
paving the way for a more equitable and diverse outdoor sports