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Old 07-30-2008   #21
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 152
Commercial Guides Boating Privately

I am hesitant to get into Grand Canyon politics and even discussion regarding anything except running the river because it inevitably gets heated. However, I have some input on this issue of "Who has a higher camping impact?". I will preface my thoughts with this bio: I was a commercial guide on several Western rivers for over 10 years, working both short and long trips. I never guided the Grand Canyon. I have done four Grand Canyon trips privately (1996-1999).

My first two GC trips were with other commercial boaters (none on the GC) boating as private boaters. I was a young boater and so I paid attention to the tenants of Grand Canyon specific camping. My next two trips were with commercial boaters (mainly guides in Grand Canyon and Cataract) boating as private boaters.

Without a doubt, the Grand Canyon guides (when privately boating) had a much bigger impact. No kitchen tarp, all ashes dumped directly into the river, no straining of dish water, multiple grease bombs, fireworks, flaming steel wool in a swirling coffee can, flaming watermelon boats down river etc etc. These admittedly spectacular stunts were all learned on commercial trips from other guides.

Now, there are at least several ways to look at this very small sampling of boating styles: 1) The commercial guiding style imparts a high impact camping style, or, 2) Commercial guides when boating privately, have a high impact camping style. Or, any other interpretation the reader wishes.

My conclusion was, and is, that as a commercial boatman, some people get complacent and don't feel like they need to deal with straining out the ashes etc, because "Man you should see what goes on on a commercial trip. This private boating is nothing!"

Aside from the question of guides, I pose this thought: How many of the cigarette butts you've seen on a river beach (GC included) some from Commercial Guides or Private Boaters? I suspect very few. I think that the majority of this small trash, that is everywhere when you really start to look, is from commercial passengers.

Again, these are the musings of a minimally experienced GC boater. Now let me have it...

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Old 07-30-2008   #22
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 498
EZ you lying sonof just kidding. That was an interesting post I would be real curious to know from which company those "Guides" came from I have my suspicions. I started my outdoor life as a backpacker, canoer so i have always been low on impact but alas not all are the same. And I think anyone who zealously points at one user group as the problem will end up with egg on their face. As no guide I have ran with before or since my canyon days has ever done any of the stuff you mention in your post. But some do i guess. sj
ps Tom was asking about your resume not to belittle but to get an idea of politics when you started

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Old 07-30-2008   #23
whip's Avatar
Salida, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 516
We snagged Pancho's

while some of our group was hiking over Thunder River. The ranger cried foul but the commercial guides ambled over after feeding/bedding down the clients and even brought the cocktail ice!
No amount of money is worth your free time!
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Old 08-01-2008   #24
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,347
I hate the private/commercial argument. It is really no different than male/female, white/black. In any "group" there are good people, and real losers. Why do we have to identify people (we are all people after all) as "other" when we know NOTHING about them. I am a private boater. I have friends who are guides. I know some private boaters that are real LOSERS (even in how they treat the canyon).

I had a recent WONDERFUL experience with a guide who helped me out in a tough spot last weekend, my first flip. He was the same guide I saw at the put in and chuckled at, for what he was wearing. It was yet another great reminder about judging others.

So why don't we all just stand off our soapboxes and focus on being nice people ourselves.
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Old 08-01-2008   #25
Park City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 700
Strange thread. I would assume a sort of zero tolerance by all, with alot of self policing in such an important environment.

On private versus commercial thing, the guides will control the attitude of the group. If they show and demand respect, the group will too.

On private trips in general, the hardest partiers I've encountered are guides. Probably more a comment on who heads that way for a lifestyle, and recognize it is a sweeping generalization. I just am envious I couldn't keep up with the all nighters between days on the water.
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Old 08-01-2008   #26
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 154
Heh... most of us just know that we won't sleep for two weeks, and if you go into it with that attitude and nap as much as you can during the day, you're fine.

Originally Posted by Canada View Post
On private trips in general, the hardest partiers I've encountered are guides. Probably more a comment on who heads that way for a lifestyle, and recognize it is a sweeping generalization. I just am envious I couldn't keep up with the all nighters between days on the water.

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