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Old 07-08-2012   #1
Buffalo, New York
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 109
Safe kids age for Deso?

I am about to be a new father and have very few boating buddies with small kids. I have guided and boated the San Juan a bunch and think I can take my baby down there safely when she will be 7 mos next spring. I have not yet done a Deso/Grey trip and am wondering if anyone has taken small kids down, if so, what ages, and if the class III's are walkable? Any info from people with small kids would be appreciated?

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Old 07-08-2012   #2
Montrose, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 128
I would not do it until a kid is old enough to comfortably float in a PFD and communicate well.

Many of the rapids in Deso do not lend themselves to easy walking. While most of the class III's can be scouted, they typically require extra effort to try and go around them.

Even a class II can turn a boat, and it is just not worth the risk to take a swim while trying to save an infant.

Deso is isolated enough that if something goes wrong, it can escalate to something really bad before help arrives. While it is a good "kid" trip, I would not take an infant on it.

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Old 07-08-2012   #3
Buffalo, New York
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 109
Thanks, I know I will be appreciating the Grandparent factor the first few years for sure.
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Old 07-09-2012   #4
The Russian
kazak4x4's Avatar
SLC, Utah
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,380
7 month old is too young in my opinion. I started my son at 5 years old on Deso. 4 years old on flat rivers.

Deso will be very hot and windy this time of the year. Which means you will need to get going VERY early in the morning and bake at camp in the afternoon. Babies don't do well with heat usually. At this flow, you will have long days on the river rowing against the wind.

Rapids at this flow are much more technical, a lot more rocks are exposed. Any swimmer would most likely get banged up good on the rocks.

I'd personally leave the baby at home for a couple more years. Make sure your kid knows how to stay afloat and comfortable in a life jacket for a long time (and helmet).

Take this time and make your boat family friendly, so when your kid is ready to go so will you be as well.

Family friendly boat: Bimini, easy access captain boxes for snacks and putting away hats/clothes quick. Comfy paco pads on the front. An easy accessible box/bag of toys. Make your gear pile flat, so it's easy to walk around your boat (kids don't sit still). Proper weather gear for kids (I usually pack dry suit, shorty and long wet suit for my son). Kid games at camp (bocce, ladder ball, horse shoes). If you have a girl a tent pee bucket with a lid (your wife will love you for that

Hope this helps you, but when you are ready to go, Deso is a great kid river with large beaches, fun rapids and pretty scenery. As Hunter said, most rapids are easier ran than walked. Joe Hutch is the only one you can walk it easily, but it's too fun to bypass for kids.

-ALEX [ youtube ][ my boat ][ ]
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Old 07-09-2012   #5
Buffalo, New York
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 109
Thanks so much for the info guys, that definitely opened my eyes a bit!
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Old 07-09-2012   #6
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Gunnison, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1970
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 86
We've had 2 year old kids on our trips down Deso/Greys. They did great. I have a friend who's kid has boated since an infant, doing San Juan at 7 months old at Thanksgiving no less with ice on the river. This kid is an exceptional boater though. It all really depends on the child.
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Old 07-10-2012   #7
santa cruz, California
Paddling Since: 93
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 2
Kids love deso

I took my oldest daughter when she was 3 and it is still her favorite trip. I started her sister on deso at 18 months. They both love being out there and we walked Joe Huthch the last 3 years with the kids and they ran it this year(6&3 yrs old). Every kid is different. I have taken numerous other kids in the same age group as well, and they all had fun and were safe. As others have suggested, there are many ways to make the trip easier or more fun, captain boxes, games, comfort,shade....but it's still deso, and yes it was 103 everyday, wind blew hard up stream, eliminating any chance of shade, oh and there is no(low) water. So be ready for a great trip...year after year.
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Old 07-10-2012   #8
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Summit County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 435
My daughter has been boating and duckingsince she was 17 months old. Of course I am a swift water rescue tech and work as a full time professional rescuer. I made sure the safeties in place were/are vast and redundant. If you do it right, equip yourself with plans b,c,d,e, and f and have the visions to recognize the path of mistakes and stop it without getting tunnel vision, correct the course.....u too can do it safely. My daughter is an incredible swimmer, swims rapids with me training for the river and loves the river. She has run Browns, Shasone, Upper C and soon West water. I did the same for her skiing... At 4 years old she was one of just a few skiing the diamond and double diamonds of Breckenridge with 41 days this year and she had over 400k vertical feet, along with skiing the 22 ft pipe.

Moral of this story: prepare and practice the worst case scenario with your child what u could encounter on the river. If she calmly responds well then keep developing the desired skill safely. I think it makes for a tough kid well prepared for life. Also make sure your response to flips, swims etc has a plan b,c,d,e etc etc

Just my 2 cents!
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Old 07-10-2012   #9
Eagle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 185
Here's the thing... If your doing it for you your kids enjoyment, go for it. If it's for your enjoyment, you should probably do something else.
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Old 07-11-2012   #10
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 22
Kids on Deso

We took our son down Deso when he was 18 months old and will probably wait a little longer for our next child. It'd would've been a much more enjoyable trip if he had been a little more mobile (walking across cobbles and uneven terrain by himself instead of always having to be carried) and if he had been able to communicate better.

However, my wife an I both guided on the Colorado and Green Rivers and we are very experienced with the canyon, the rapids, and the safety aspects of boating with young children. Our main concern was making sure that our kids were having (safe) fun, and at the end of the 6 day trip we agreed that a little older than 18 months would've been a little more fun for everyone.

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