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Old 07-25-2013   #1
Steamboat, 80487
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 10
Grand Canyon Rafting Difficulty

Just pulled a Grand Canyon permit for June 2014 and I am thinking about rowing an 18 foot boat. Do you think I can I do it?

A little about myself...

I got into boating 3 years ago. I've been on Yampa Canyon, Gates of Lodore, Westwater to name a few. I didn't row on these trips but I've developed a decent understanding of reading water.

I did do a desolation canyon trip last may and got to row most of it including some of the bigger rapids down there. I know deso's rapids aren't big but thats the biggest water experience I have. I have tons of flat water experience on the upper C too...

I have taken a swiftwater rescue class and understand the dangers a river can have.

I am also going with very experienced boaters which I think if I listen to their advice I will be fine.

I have no problem not rowing a boat but as a trip leader I really want to row. Any advice for me? Can I do it?

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Old 07-25-2013   #2
kayakfreakus's Avatar
Steamboat, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 887
This is coming from a non-rafter who got to spend some time on the sticks on a grand trip. The nice thing about the grand is all rapids are pool drop and most only seemed to require one move.

However, depending on the flow, there are still a good chunk that take some moving of the rubber to get through. There is still pin potentials especially at a lower flow and lots of holes to flip up those offline which is fun to watch but hard work to get a 18 back over.

I personally would say go for it but have a backup oarsmen/woman who can take over if needed and give the really important gear to other boats until you decide your comfort level On our trip we had a newbie that got comfortable quick and ran lava and everything else without issue, I sure know that would not be me - rafters are crazy with those big ass boats.

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Old 07-25-2013   #3
The Russian
kazak4x4's Avatar
SLC, Utah
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,380
3 of my friends have done Deso and/or Ruby Horsethief and then their next trip was Grand on their own boats. I am going June of next year as well, as my first time, so I haven't done GC yet, but I have seen enough videos and read enough information on it to say GO!

A chance to hit GC is really once a life time for normal 8 to 5 people with limited vacation. So if you can make it work, GO. If you have decent buddies who will show you the lines, GO. if you can put a decent crew with gear and company, GO!

A lack of knowing how to run rapids shouldn't hold you back running GC. As kayakfreakus said, most of the big rapids in GC require correct positioning and some would require good pulls (to pull away from Cheese grader for example). If you positioned wrong up on top, you are screwed anyways and learn how to hold your breath

Make sure to hit Westwater on your own before GC or Cataract trip, this will show you if you know how to handle big stuff. Just point that bow into the wave and lay into the sticks

Good luck!
-ALEX [ youtube ][ my boat ][ ]
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Old 07-25-2013   #4
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
I've done the Grand twice. Both times I was on 18' boats and rowed. The first time I went I'd been a commercial guide for about 3 years, and had run the same rivers you have. Because I was commercial, I probably ran more, but otherwise my experience was the same as yours when I went.

If you take experienced people with you you should be fine. That is to say, you may die, but you will do it properly.

In my opinion, the real attraction of the Grand isn't the rapids. It's the side trips, the amazing scenery and just........the canyon. There are ghosts and stuff in the canyon and if you look you just might find them. Take a freaking camera! Take several.

To be sure, they got rapids. Big ones. Depending on water they can be awesome or awesome big. As noted, most are relatively straight shots. The difference between the Grand and anything else is that in the canyon you aren't dodging rocks, you're dodging holes. Big holes. Big fucking holes sometimes.

I think Granite, Crystal, and a couple other rapids are tougher than Lava, but Lava is the one you freaking think about until you get there. Then you do it, and either do it right, or you swim. It's just that simple. Do not let the Lava monster psyche you out. It's the same water you've been on for 180 miles, and the thing is only 90 yards long. How much can go wrong? (HINT; you have to have your entry point nailed perfectly. And, unless you pay very close attention, you can't see it from up river until you drop in. After that it doesn't much matter what you do)

You'll need more beer than you think. You'll need more sun screen and bug juice than you think. You'll crave Ice Cream. Try to leave a couple days extra so you can go to Las Vegas afterwards. The culture shock of going from two weeks in the canyon to the strip is like doing drugs.

Go with people you truly like. You have to live with these people for two solid weeks or so, and a trip with people you can barely tolerate is not nearly as much fun as it is with real friends. Really. Spend more time on who goes, and what you take, than panicking about can you do it.

You'll find out, just like a few thousand other people have, if you're up to it. At about mile 8 you'll know.
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Old 07-25-2013   #5
Dipshit with the most.
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Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
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Posts: 2,497
Originally Posted by boatshredder View Post
Just pulled a Grand Canyon permit for June 2014 and I am thinking about rowing an 18 foot boat. Do you think I can I do it?
Do it. You won't be sorry. Hit the shit straight. So many people try so hard to miss things. If in trouble straighten out and take it on the chin.

Do it.
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Old 07-25-2013   #6
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1974
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 140
Do it.

18's aren't really any harder to row unless you really overload the boat.

An 18' will let you carry a lot of gear before it is overloaded.
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Old 07-25-2013   #7
zbaird's Avatar
Paddling Since: 1994
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Posts: 884
The grand is arguably the best place to learn to row a boat IMHO. 18'ers are very forgiving. Do it!
zach baird
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Old 07-25-2013   #8
Woodland Park, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 127
I just got off the grand on a June 30th launch. We had a couple rowers that were experienced but hadn't rowed in 3 years. The really great thing about the grand is that the rapids progress in a really great fashion. By the time you reach lava youll be a pro. That being said I got my ass handed to me at the end because I got lazy after lava. if you've got some good people to show the lines you'll be a pro. Take extra camera batteries and shade. We had temps in the 110-120 range. I can't emphasize the need for cool people. That heat would have seemed twice as bad if people were complaining the while time.
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Old 07-25-2013   #9
prescott, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 276
you'll do fine. i can just tell. you're asking for advice!

trust in your experienced boatman. they will take good care of you. i have no doubt they will take you under their wing and show you the ropes. ask questions. soak it up. the first couple days are a little tough (watch out for house rock). but you'll be fine. it's mostly mental. scout, pick your run and just do it. if something happens (cause shit does) just stick with it, scratch and claw and never give up.

i don't know shit, but that's what's always worked for me.

i was told that in a rapid that you need three things: entry, momentum and luck. if you get in trouble and have two of three, you're usually fine. (luck has always been my fav).

as others have said enjoy the place and your buds and brews and the moment. it will be over all too quick.

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Old 07-26-2013   #10
whip's Avatar
Salida, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 516
It really just a great big class 2. If you see something big keep it straight and push hard. And find Linda Lou Lindemans guidebook.

No amount of money is worth your free time!
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