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Old 01-19-2015   #1
Silverthorne, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 7
Advice on March 15 GC trip

I am putting together my itinerary for a 20-day trip from Lee's to Pearce and pretty much have the highlights embedded into the itinerary for the park (first time down the river for me, so doing the best I can). I melded memories/itinerary stops from a friend's summer experience with another friend's bitter cold winter experience to create a possible March itinerary. Is there any place anyone suggests stopping in March over other times of the year?

Also, I'm having trouble with the tail end of our trip and wonder if anyone has suggestions. I have a 30-mile day built into the itinerary from Parashant to Travertine Falls on Day 18. It's by far the longest day on the trip and it worries me, probably rightfully so. The longest day in the rest of the trip is 21.6 miles; most days are in the 15-mile mark. It looks like there are some good hikes between Parashant and Travertine (205 mile canyon hike; pumpkin spring) and I'm not sure about the current in general, let alone in March. Is this WAY too long to be on the river at the tail end of the canyon? Or is this doable? (and, is it recommended to do, even if it's doable )

Just FYI and if anyone has any suggestions, I have us following that day up with 15 miles to Spencer Canyon and then 35 miles night float out to Pearce. Should we extend our night float and even out the days between Parashant and wherever we stay before the night float? Anyone have suggestions?

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Old 01-20-2015   #2
flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 09
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 155
welllll this is always something of a point of contention..... where to camp, how far to try to go in a day. Most lopsided mileages I ever worked .... TL wanted to do a layover day at Tuck Up. Fine. Tuckup Canyon has a few lovely places to hike. But we were at the time two days before take out. Hmmmmmm. If memory serves (and it doesn't most times) we rowed something like 80 miles in two days with the Separation to Pearce night float after..... In this light your measly little 30 mile day does not seem so awful.
Other thing is, you can lay out all the itinerary you want... it seems as though in near on 300 miles and three weeks of rio it never quite works out like it does on paper ... good to have a target to shoot at tho..... and campsites get sparse below Diamond.

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Old 01-20-2015   #3
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
"The best planned itinerary does not survive first contact with the water."

Write that down. Stencil it on your gear. Print it on your menus and packing lists. Tattoo it on your forehead.

Make your plans, submit them to the authorities, and go with the flow. No need to stress, the river Gods will see to it that whatever you think you will be doing, they will change.
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Old 01-20-2015   #4
BCJ's Avatar
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 523
Ha! I'm with Schutz. Only 7 trips but each one where we "sweated" over an itinerary was LESS memorable than the ones where we just has some general ideas and then "went with the flow" simply keeping track, generally, of where we are. Miles can always be made up. There is always another camp. Weather, moods, everything changes every day. Surprises are great! Change is good! Leave "cutting in line" and "being first to get to the stoplight" at home.
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Old 01-20-2015   #5
BCJ's Avatar
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 523
PS Precisely-managed itineraries that include lots of side hikes, etc. are certainly OK, but the TL has to crack the whip and have everyone on board to make that happen.
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Old 01-20-2015   #6
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1965
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 175
I'll be launching on the 5th so I'm sympathetic with the process. My personal strategy is to make an itinerary but be VERY flexible. My 1st march trip I was the PH but we had a 5x veteran TL who kept pushing us to stay longer in the inner canyon and plan on long (25-30 mile) days at the end. He was right
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Old 01-20-2015   #7
Las Vegas, Nevada
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 97
Such a fine problem to have! We launch March 8....

I have done trips both ways now. March 2013 I was the PH/TL and we had an itinerary. We were generally able to stick to it, but there were times we had to crack the whip a bit. YMMV. The caveat is that we had a backcountry permit for an overnight hike, as well as an exchange we had to make. Plus, being my first trip, I was trying to cram as much into those 21 days as I could...

This past June I went along on a much different style of trip. We had a day we had to get to Diamond to take out and that was it. We generally talked about what we wanted to do everyday and where we wanted to go and just made it happen. We didn't take any layovers either. Night 13 (of 15) we stayed at Fern Glen. The next night we were just above Parashant and the last night was at 220. The river trip really became about being on the water below Lava.

This year, I am not the PH, but could be considered the TL. I have made a rough itinerary that I used when putting the menu together. The point of this was to identify the day we exchange at Phantom and the day we pass Diamond. It was pretty easy to figure out the big water days (upper Granite Gorge to Phantom, the run from Horn/Granite through the Gems, The 'Aisles' and Lava Day). I was able to plan some easy breakfasts and dinners on the appropriate nights after long days, or before long days, etc. I am not set on any particular camp (except 1), so we have built in plenty of time above Lava (18 days I think). So we will still go with the flow, but I have figured out how to coordinate that with the big water days and likely layovers. I think we are going to take maybe 3 layovers.

I'm not going to sweat staying at one camp over another, and I am not going to sweat skipping a layover for a couple of longer hiking days. It's just not worth it. The one main difference with this March's trip versus 2013 is I can't justify 3 nights below Lava. I believe 2 nights is plenty if you do not have any specific hiking goals down in that stretch. So I guess that will mean a couple of 25+ miles days before we cross Diamond. So something like Fern to above Parashant (likely Whitmore Area) to 220-222, then down to Spencer to night float. Don't sweat it, if you fall a few miles short one day, just make them up the next day.

Now, since this is your first trip, I'm sure you know you can't see it all. On that first trip, we had an A, B, C camp with hiking options from each along with a list of things to see between each camp. Poll everyone at night during dinner, or in the morning once the boats or rigged. You will likely all be getting on the same page about:

1. Where is lunch
2. What rapids
3. Any Scouts
4. Where are we going to hike?
5. Where is our target camp?
6. What is our second choice camp?

You should use this time to see what everyone wants to do and make a decision from there. If you target 14 miles one day and do 16 instead, then take a shorter day later, etc. Go with the flow man. You will never see it all in a single trip....
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Old 01-20-2015   #8
trickpony's Avatar
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 65
A 30 mile day isn't that big of a deal down there as long as:
a) There's no upstream wind
b) People are healthy (no hurt backs, shoulders, etc.)

Honestly - I get a little leery about itineraries that put long days at the very end. In my opinion - putting some long days in at the beginning is no big deal - you'd rather have more time to screw around at the end of the trip than at the beginning. "Going with the flow" is a good idea if you have a motivated crew... but can be a total pain in the ass with a crew that would rather default to doing 10 mile days.

Pumpkin springs in a worthwhile but short hike... and travertine falls is a must-do (but again, only 45 minutes or so if you don't want to hang out in the waterfall). You can certainly schedule things that way, but I would be inclined to bang out some miles in the beginning and leave yourself more time at the end. Also keep in mind that it may be windy in March - so counting on the night float could end up being a bad call if the weather turns sour.

Annnnddd... just remember that the river map isn't gospel. What is considered a "good camp" on the map might suck when you show up, and what they call a "small camp" might be awesome if your crew is more compact.
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Old 01-20-2015   #9's Avatar
lafayette, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1961
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 491
I did a March 23? launch 2010, 19 days to diamond 22 to Pearce with 3 days of layovers, all easy river days in my opinion. We could have pushed a little and done 4 layovers easily.
Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life on or off the river. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-21-2015   #10
flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 89
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 148
30 miles below Lava

30 miles is Way doable and the key is time spent on the water. The water travels 3-4 miles an hour depending on flows. It will most likely be low 8-12K. So, you could think about it as 3.5 mph minimum. It will take you 8.5 hours of uninterrupted on river progress. It would help to get the troops out of bed, off the beach, and on the water by 8am. Make sure you build your lunch in the morning at breakfast or night before, to make it easy.

Yeah you may miss something but You Can't Do it All in one trip. It's gonna take a lifetime only doing one trip a year.

OR the Lunch boat can make lunch for everyone while on the float. Peeps have to be easy and not have alot of picky eaters for this method. PBJ's or Everybody gets everything. Make it easy for the sammy makers.

Anyway if you kick off at 8 you will pull into camp at 4pm like clockwork barring any flips and major wind events. One reason to get off early is due to the wind which can come up in the afternoon about 3. And of course wind can come in at anytime from anywhere disclaimer.

Although I wouldn't suggest it because of all the goods you miss, we recently(Thanksgiving) did a 4 boat 10 day trip to Diamond with 3 first time rowers, 2 with one trip under their chastity belt and a crazy russian. We were off the beach by 8am and pulled into camp by 4pm netting 30 miles/day for the first 3 days at 6-9K. We did many other 30 mile days past Phantom. We only scouted 3 rapids House, Hance, and Lava and it was a quick peek. Generally speaking after we made our 22.5 mile goal each day we would keep paddling and bank it for later where we would take time for a hike, or fishing.

At the end of the trip I asked the guys if we could do a 20 day trip next time? Yeah, 10 layovers will be cool! was the response. The Crazy russians response was that we were all pussys and next time he will bring 3 cartons of smokes instead of 1, more vodka, go left at Bedrock, smash the wimpy crystal hole and give a proper russian boat kiss to the Ledgehole.

No fuck shit!


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