Originally Posted by fletcherul
If we can do Desolation canyon ourselves, are we ready for GC?
Welcome to the Buzz and congratulations on getting a permit for the Grand Canyon!
From a technical whitewater perspective, running Desolation Canyon to prepare for a Grand trip will be kind of like going straight from being a freshman in college to grad school. It's still a good experience to be in a beautiful canyon for about a week, the whitewater will be mostly easy and fun, and you'll be amazed at the campsites and some of the hikes you can go on there.
Most folks that run the Grand Canyon have at least a few years of boating under their belts, if they're not life long boaters who are passionate about the lifestyle. That said, there are lots of folks whose first boating experience was a Grand trip and did just fine.
You may be able to get on a Deso trip with a group that has room on a permit. Start looking now and you may be able to get together with a group that's doing a multiday trip either there, or on another great river like the Main Salmon, San Juan, or elsewhere. Another alternative would be to float from Grand Junction to Moab on the Colorado. Whatever you do, you'll be able to rent gear and get lots more experience on the oars. Boating season in the Southwestern desert country can be a wonderful experience through October and starts up again in March.
Also, you've been awarded a "permit" for your trip, not a "ticket." You have gained access to a highly-sought opportunity to experience an amazing place with a long and fascinating geologic, biologic, cultural, and political history. For many this is the dream of a lifetime. If you go on a Deso or other trip and realize you don't enjoy the experience, you should really reconsider whether you should go on the Grand.
Enjoy your planning and preparation!