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Old 04-26-2012   #11
Avatard's Avatar
portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 2,188
Do you think she might be more comfortable in a dry suit? I know if you fall out or flip you avoid the shock of ice cold water

Practice running a lot of pool drop rivers. Have her walk the scary ones while you are scouting. Take a good waterproof two way radio

Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it "guaranteed", I will. I got spare time.
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Old 04-26-2012   #12
Fallingup's Avatar
Summit County, and Idaho
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 261
Definitely invest in a drysuit if you can, well worth the money to not be cold and scared. I would get out on a couple of places and flip if you can, so she can experience it.

I hope she can pull it together, it would be a great experience for you both. But..dont be afraid to leave her at home too. If she truly is scared, she wont enjoy it and it will a long miserable trip for everyone. Everyone has a few fears they just can't overcome.

Good Luck

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Old 04-26-2012   #13
mtriverrat's Avatar
Lewistown, middle of MT
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 222
OK - I have rafted for years and well sitting up front looking into a two story drop into terrifying rapids that you are completely out of control to effect is not for the faint of heart. I wanted to be there, I begged to be there and I was loving it, but it is terrifying. It's different sitting in the rowing seat. You have a completely different perspective. Lava and Crystal were fun - it's the 240 others that you have to worry about. We flipped not in Lava but in easy Badger. I got absolutely maytaged and it put the power of the river in complete perspective for me. Yes it is pool and drop, but had I not kept a cool head, pointed my feet down stream, grabbed air when up and had someone hit me dead on with a throw rope and hung on = well I'd be dead. It is beyond worrying about scaring her - it's about her REALLY wanting to risk her life to go with you.

Now, beyond the river -this is an epic adventure. Most of the injuries on our trip were out of the water. You are away from help and at the mercy of the people you go with. It's a very long camping trip with some rafting thrown in - so if you're taking her make sure you do some luxuries in the camping end.

Last, if she goes - make sure she's warm. I am a very warm person and there were days in a wet suit and splash gear that I froze. I'm not talking about the day I swam - that was a warm day. There are days where you go from one rapid to another and riding up front and not rowing you get very cold. I didn't want to make the investment in a dry suit, but that was my choice.

It is the most wonderful trip I ever made and I can appreciate you wanting to share it, but it is a seriously dangerous endeavor.
If you lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known. Winnie the Pooh
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Old 04-26-2012   #14
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,928
Tough one.

First, I would not recommend a dry suit for May unless she tolerates heat extremely well. You are talking temps averaging in the low 90s. Throw in a personal sauna and you could be talking heat illnesses galore. Wetsuits are nice for the summer because you can dip into the river to cool off a lot more effectively. I find dry suit start to be a bad option once you hit the 80s.

I would not recommend walking around the big Rapids. Flipping is bad enough but flipping and missing the eddy to pick up your passenger is even worse. I couldn't imagine the anxiety of watching my rig flip and knowing I was no where near it. Miss the perfect line in Crystal and you wife in on one side of the river while you are floating a half mile away on the left side of the island.

As well, as has been mentioned, there are a ton of "small" rapids that flip just as easily if not worse because people get complacent. If I remember properly we had a close call in 271/2 (Tiger Wash) because of the massive spiky waves. There are plenty of other rapids that are visually intimidating. I don't look forward to my wife seeing Horn for the first time next year as there isn't really anything else like it up river. Half the flips I know of from friends or have seen first hand in the Grand have been away from Lava, Crystal and Hance.

People get worked up about Lava. If you don't end up near the Ledge Hole (and really why would you) then a swim there is no worse than most other places in the canyon. Its over before you realize it.

Most recommendation: plan on running her in every rapid. Take the most conservative lines. Minimize the big, fearful talk before rapids. Minimize the time you spend at scouts as that is when people get the most anxious it seems. Spend time on the boat chatting and distracting her from the hazards of the rapids. It seems you have been preparing well already.

Either that....or leave her behind. If she is that afraid of rapids that Grand Canyon may not be the appropriate place.

Hard choice and wish you well. It has taken me a while to get use to my wife crying after a big rapid. It has happened 3 times in 4 years and was disconcerting at first. Now I just know she handles stress and anxiety differently than I do. She cries and in ten minutes is laughing through the next rapid.
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Old 04-26-2012   #15
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,908
I've got a few questions, like what size boat are you taking her on, etc., however the most important one is whether she is she going because you want her to come and she feels she'll be letting you down or because she actually wants to do it.

For someone who's terrified of a whitewater swim, getting psyched up to run a few scary rapids on a day trip or overnight is manageable and there's an end and reward in sight. To do that daily for 16 days could be a real grind for her.

If she really doesn't want to go, but is coming to meet your expectations, then you'll be putting her through 16 days of hellish fear and anxiety.

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 04-26-2012   #16
snakester's Avatar
Mesa, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 161
David I can relate to your situation. A G.C. trip is my lifeís goal but I donít think Iíd take my wife down there. I wouldnít want to be worried about her the whole time. But thatís down the road for me anyway, my immediate goal is to row Westwater. My wife would like to go on W.W. but she said not in my boat. I havenít rowed it and I havenít even been down it in almost 20 years. We got busy raising a family for the past 17 years & I didnít get back into rafting until 2 summers ago. My kids love it and we love camping on the river.
I really want to try Westwater but Iím nervous about it too. I need some people to go with to show me the lines and to help me flip my boat back over . But my other dilemma is all I own is an old 16í bucket boat which has been fine for us so far but if I took it down Westwater Iíd need some brave passengers to ride with me and bail.
I know this is totally different than your deal, but I know what itís like to go rafting with somebody thatís scared of falling out of the boat. You wonít have as good of a time if youíre always wondering how your mate is doing, itís selfish but true. Relationships are tricky. But just think about this, whatís it going to do to your joy of the thrill of the rapid when you catch a glimpse of her out of the corner of your eye scrambling through the boulders on shore and then sitting there waiting for her time & time again? More importantly, how is she going to feel about that?
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Old 04-26-2012   #17
GC Guide's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 520
"It is beyond worrying about scaring her - it's about her REALLY wanting to risk her life to go with you."

Isn't that pushing it a bit? I took my 75 year old Mom and my sister last year. Everyone else in my family is more afraid of a groover and camping for "so many days" (mostly the groover).

I fully believe it can be as life changing and invigorating as anything you can do on this planet!

THIS is a trip that can give someone the confidence to do nearly anything!

I agree with the folks who say "talk up the hikes, flat water and scenery"! Rapids are a small part of the trip, and if you are rowing and not experienced in big water, put her in the biggest boat with the most experienced boatman for the "big" stuff.

Either way, have an awesome trip!!
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Old 04-27-2012   #18
Wadeinthewater's Avatar
Walterville, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 558
Originally Posted by GC Guide View Post
If you are rowing and not experienced in big water, put her in the biggest boat with the most experienced boatman for the "big" stuff.
Best advice yet. She doesn't have to ride in your boat. I have taken many passengers who didn't want to ride elsewhere.
Real adventure is only one bad decision away.
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Old 04-27-2012   #19
Dipshit with the most.
carvedog's Avatar
Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,496
Originally Posted by David Miller View Post
PS that's here in the picture. Zoom Flume Browns Canyon. She's smiling.
She doesn't look scarred at all in this picture. Maybe it's not close enough.

Someone once told me that the business part of the GC rapids if you added them all up together account for five minutes of action. But it is all that anticipation isn't it.

I have taken people down the river who, it turned out, did not want 100% to be there. Not very fun.

Agreed about the flip potential almost anywhere. Our trip had a flip in 209, which completely snuck up on all of us, but we might have been drunk so who knows.

Keep her happy. But also you need to be fair to the rest of your trip. For you to pull over, get her walking and get back in the flow and repeat at bottom will put you a good 10 to 20 minutes behind your group if it goes great. Some of those eddies really suck to get through, or you calculate wrong and get to go around again. Then someone is either eddying out with you to run together or waiting at the bottom.

You get the idea. Find out her true feelings on the matter, not just that she 'agreed' to come with you. Better to come back stinky and tired after boating it by yourself, into her happy and loving arms, than to have her be resentful of having to be scared for 16 days. You will do the right thing. Together.
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Old 04-27-2012   #20
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ebbing, flowing..., CO, NM
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 239
Originally Posted by DocDC View Post
I'd say keep her in the boat, then keep her in the boat.
She'll be fine, she'll have a blast. & besides, every single rapid in the grand has been successfully swam hundreds of times! Heck, Georgie White swam all of it on purpose at like 40K! Oh, have her read this AWESOME book called "Breaking into the Current" (by Louise Teal) It's about the first handful of women guides in the canyon.

Journeys of a River Mamma Blog "Ever onward, ever forward, ever down the River!"- Ed Abbey
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