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Old 09-15-2011   #1
Crested Butte, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 298
Grand Self-Support tips, suggestions

I'm looking for suggestions and tips from people who have done this trip without raft-support. I've seen the Liquid Logic blog and have done many self-support trips on other rivers. The Grand requires groovers and spare PFD's which I have never taken before on other trips. What is a must do / need to have / not necessary. We have a late Oct. launch.

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Old 09-15-2011   #2
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,302
I'm planning a similar trip a month after you. One note on the PFDs, the head ranger gave our group the okay to have slightly fewer spare PFDs than what is listed on the regs (1 extra for every 3 kayakers). They said we could bring only 2 for a group of 12 instead of the mandated 3. You might want to call them and politely explain your situation and ask (and probably bring extra to the put-in).

I think the extra PFD is a ridiculous rule for a self-support kayak trip (though makes since with rafters that actually take there gear off on the raft). I would probably flip over before I ever managed to take my PFD off in the river so it won't float away, and the throw bag and pin kit makes it way too heavy to ever blow off the beach. I don't think the LL crew actually brought spare PFDs, since they never showed any rigged in the photos, but I could be wrong.

For our trip we are thinking drysuit mandatory... but you will have warmer temps and more sun.

Kyle McCutchen
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Old 09-15-2011   #3
Colo Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 597
To start with, read the regs carefully:

Be sure to read the fire regs on page 15. Since you are launching before Nov 1st you are not required to have a firepan, but if you intend to burn driftwood after Nov 1st, then you need to have it, with a fireblanket underneath it. Carrying a firepan in a kayak might be tricky; I don't know how you would do that.

The ranger phone is 928-355-2232. They have better info than the general river office.
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Old 09-15-2011   #4
summit, Colorado
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 159
One note about the extra PFD rule....the only time I've seen an extra pfd used is not because one got lost, or floated away, but because one of the shoulder tightening buckles broke while we were scouting a rapid, so the shoulder strap no longer worked. Don't forget that equipment CAN fail....and the last thing you want is to be out on the Grand without a pfd!
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Old 09-15-2011   #5
rg5hole's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 06
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 450
One of the River Rangers on Cat wrote us up (this just after all of us styled the big drops @ 70K cfs thus at the END of our journey) for not having a spare PFD's on our self support.

We carried our shit for Christs sake, I mean feces, like real shit in our kayaks. What with that alone when he said "I believe you have good intentions and you are obviously qualified to be here" I finally realized that some rules are meant to be broken.

we discussed this in depth at camp and decided that if one were to carry a spare PFD, you may be able to fit a PFD in the BOW in front of your foot brace. I think that may be the ticket.
I've never boated before, but I have posted a lot on Mountain Buzz!
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Old 09-15-2011   #6
Crested Butte, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 298
Yeah, the PFD thing will just have to be dealt with and firepan is a maybe for us. What boats are you guys using Cutch, I'm thinking about using a Remix XP-10 but everyone else is probably in a creek boat. I wonder if we can carry 12 days of food and groover space in creek boats.
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Old 09-15-2011   #7
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,302
We made it longer boat mandatory for speed. We have a few XP9s going, a lot of XP10s, and two of us in Fusions. A few TBD. I would bring a big boat just for comfort and ease of packing with a hatch, even if the rest is in creek boats.

I usually use the space in front of my bulkhead for two groover tubes, but I'm working on coming up with something more efficient to have that space for drybags.
Kyle McCutchen
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Old 09-16-2011   #8
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Baja, California
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 18
self support

I self supported the Grand a number of years ago. 2 of us did a 20 day trip. It was fantastic. Did a bunch of hikes, caught trout until Lava, and read 3 books. There is so much extra time each day without the loading and unloading of rafts. Plus if you pull it off, you'll never have to eat crow again when a rafter tells you that you could never do an overnight without him, so do as he says and be a good little lowly kayaker, etc...
I'm not sure about the current regs or enforcement of them. We carried turkey basting pans bought at the grocery store as our fire pan. They have the right height lip, are collapsable, and weigh almost nothing. For the groover we had large plastic storage bottles and wag bags. We used the plastic bottles to store food in and never pooped in them. Be discreet and smart about it when you camp. Hike far away from the beach before you go, or poop at ramdon spots between camps where no one else lands. I forget what we did about the extra pfd's. We probably showed them to the ranger at the put-in and then stashed them back in the car later before launch. Because of the length of the trip, we mailed extra food to us to be picked up at Phantom Ranch. Good luck amigo.
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Old 09-16-2011   #9
Crested Butte, Colorado
Paddling Since: 82
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 202
come on now, kayaker poop is still poop and does not belong in the grand canyon! If you are really self support, go all the way!
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Old 09-16-2011   #10
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Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 384
I did a trip last year the first week of November. It was my first trip down and I would have trouble going with rafts after our experience. We had more than enough food and cold drinks and lots of time for hiking and enjoying the camps. We all had creek boats and I'm not sure sure what else you would need with a raft that we could not bring in our boats, except women. Just pull the boat up on the sand, and relax. Here is some advise.

-We chunked the spare pfd back in the van after the ranger checked us out. It did not seem necessary but that is up to you.
-My friend welded us a sweet firepan that was designed for self support kayaking and packed up in the kayaks with ease. I can contact him to make one for you or sell you the one we used. The rangers loved it.
-We all took creek boats and removed the back pillar, it made it real easy to get our stuff in and out. We figured there was not risk of a pin in the GC.
-We made PVC groovers to regulation, actually a little smaller but the ranger like them. They fit in the back of the boat with ease.
-Remember the moves are wide open and big water, load the boats up you don't have to hike over any passes or make any monster boofs. We had 40+ beers, 2+ bottles of booze per boat and steaks, fruit, vegetables. Day 1 and 2 the boats are heavy but they keep getting lighter. Party big on night 1.
-I packed 1 bottle and half my food in the nose of my boat. That way I only got in there once and switched trash for the second half of my food and a fresh bottle.

We ran all rapids completely blind and I recommend you do the same. Scouting in the Grand is for wienies. Have fun!

Creek Boaters Like Tight Boxes
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