Bummer Trip on Grand Canyon (from GCPBA list) - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-16-2007   #1
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Bummer Trip on Grand Canyon (from GCPBA list)

This was posted on the Grand Canyon Private Boaters email list - looks like a good example of how personal dynamics can sink a trip. It'll be interesting if the stories emerge about what happened to precipitate the conflict. Sounds like a trip from Hell - I'm sure it weren't many pleasant nights around the campfire (before and) after what happened.


---------------------------- Original Message ---------------------------- Subject: [gcpba] Yaker/rafter fisticuffs at Lava
From: "Mike Quigley"
Date: Mon, July 16, 2007 9:01 am
This is interesting. Hiked down Lava Falls trail to spend a day
loafing. A large private group of rafters/kayakers stopped to scout, when all hell broke loose. One of the rafters and one of the kayakers got into it as the rest of the group tried to brake up the brouhaha. The women were screaming at each other as the men tried to separate just about everybody. When all calmed down the kayakers went through first, followed by the rafts, two of which flipped. The kayakers
waiting at the bottom of the falls sat there doing nothing as the
rafts and occupants floated by down around the corner.
Yes, it was hot, hot, hot, but c'mon. Imagine waiting years for a
permit to have it come together like this? This is the second time I witnessed a private group come apart at Lava.

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 07-16-2007   #2
on your sister, ...
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Wow. Amazing.

It's really hard to comment beyond that though without hearing the different sides though.
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Old 07-16-2007   #3
Golden, Colorado
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Definately a bummer. But in some ways its a wonder more trips don't end up at each others throats on the Grand. Putting together a 1 week trip in Idaho or Utah, you don't get the politics as much because you're generally not together long enough to build substantial friction. But the Grand, or any other similar expedition takes it up a level.

A private trip through the Grand is the opportunity of a lifetime, but that said, getting the invite / permit is the easy part. It's a shitload of work to plan, purchase, pack, cook, clean, load rafts, unload rafts and de-rig for a group of 16 for 18+ days. Most boaters I've known are pretty laid back, and as long as the workload is evenly distributed and no-one is particulary eager to micromanage every detail, everone's happy. But if you end up with an uneven workload amongst trip participants you've got a recipe for trouble. And if you have a couple of type A's on the trip, the fireworks will be spectacular.

Then there's always the kayaker vs. rafter thing. Being a kayaker 80% of the time, and a trip leader/oarsman 20% of the time, I understand both sides of this coin. Usually it boils down to the above mentioned inequities between workload.

Ultimately, to ensure a smooth trip, a lot of the responsibility is on the trip leader. This can get tricky, because there are a lot of different leadership styles, but the leader needs to select people to go who indicate they will do their part, and in as diplomatic a fashion as possible, make sure they do so throughout the trip.

Don't know if that's what when down on this particular trip but these issues that have often arisen over river trips I've done in the past.

My $0.02
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Old 07-17-2007   #4
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I know of a trip where out of four couples three of them broke up (two divorces and one girlfriend/boyfriend split), over friction created by three weeks on the Grand.

I personally saw another trip loose all group dynamics until they were split into two incommunicado tribes of adversaries.

The one guy (kick ass kayaker from Tenn) told me that he wanted to kick another guy's (from Miami) ass. I couldn't blame him because right about then the Miami guy walked by and said "the kitchen isn't going to set itself up with you standing there."

Group dynamics are more important than the quality of the boatmen/women in my opinion (although the two are related.)

What makes me wonder if we are just a bunch whiny 21st century jerk offs is the fact that John Wesley Powell and his expedition had to suffer a hell of a lot more than a flipped boat, a wet sleeping bag, and over-cooked steaks.

You'd think those guys would have had some bad group dynamics (I think a couple of them climbed out of the canyon only to be killed by the native canyonites after all).

But it couldn't have been that bad because nobody kicked Powell's ass and he only had one arm. Unless Powell was more of a bad-ass than Chuck Norris.
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Old 07-17-2007   #5
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Originally Posted by farp View Post
But it couldn't have been that bad because nobody kicked Powell's ass and he only had one arm. Unless Powell was more of a bad-ass than Chuck Norris.
He was as bad ass as Chuck Norris, but not as bas ass as EJ!

Why doesn't hair grow on EJ's chest? Cause hair doesn't grow on STEEL!!!
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Old 07-17-2007   #6
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Originally Posted by benpetri View Post
He was as bad ass as Chuck Norris, but not as bas ass as EJ!

Why doesn't hair grow on EJ's chest? Cause hair doesn't grow on STEEL!!!
I have been boating for 7 years now and spend more than 100 days on the water each year. I have found that finding good people on long trips is one of the most difficult parts. We have all had spectacular trips and those that we would like to forget. All of the trips that I could do without the memory of were due to group dynamics or lack there of.

I agree with the person that stated the eveness of the workload is a huge factor. I know that I have type A tendencies and when I see people slacking, whining, and playing the me me me game I have very little tollerance.

My first GC trip was a year ago from last May. My wife and I got the invite late in the planning process from a friend in Boise and he and one other guy were the only two I knew on the trip. That will be the last Blind date I do on the big ditch. I should have known when the TL and his brother wanted the group to pay for the rental of two 16' boats after I offered to procure boats for them at little or no cost. I would not have any problem spliting the cost of equipment rental if we had needed it but we ended up having 12 boats for 16 peeps and one of them was a 37' motor rig.

We found a guy to drive the motor rig that has been down the run 40 times and obviously has his shit together. About 4 day in to the trip there was so much whining from the person that was swamping on the motor rig that I ditched the oars and got on the mother ship. I should probally mention that in May the wind is a bit more than a light breeze. So I was ok with not struggling. It also afforded me the oppertunity to drive that beast with some good coaching. I now own a snout and the expericnce I gained has kept me out of alot of trouble.

I ended up rigging the S- rig every day, still had my camp duties, and the person rowing my boat acted like I was still suppost to rig that boat also. So needless to say by the end of the trip ther was some tention in the air. I did a pretty good job of keeping my head down for the majority of the trip.

We did a layover about 8 mi up from dimond creek and de-rigged a bunch of the boats to make the take out a little less of a hassle. In the process My wife and I both roller our boats and stacked them on the S rig. It wasn't untill the TL decided that there would be no Coffe in the moring ( you have to get off the ramp by 0800 to stay out of the indians way so we had already decided on no breakfast earlier that day) that the shit hit the fan. At this point my wife had had enough of the groups BS and lit them up. All I could do is stand by and support from a distance. Now you would think that sounds like a pretty trivial thing to start a big shit fight about but 3 wks of listing to whining will set some people on edge.

So here are the things I learned from the trip
- No blind dates longer that 1 week
- If it sounds fishy from the begining then it will probally smell spawned out by the end
- A TL on a long trip must pick the pax wisely and lead by example with the workload.
- Every one has different strengths so use those the everyones benfit. If someone is motivated to do a certain task don't penalize them. Take some of there other chores off their plate and split it up differently.
- DON't [email protected]#$% with peoples addictions on the river. That is not the time to stop smoking or stop the flow of caffeine
- There is always time for coffe in the moring if the people that want it are willing to drag themselves out of bed 10min earlier.

Happy boating and pick your trip wisely.
PS. Yes I know that I can't spell
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Old 07-17-2007   #7
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Sometimes the respective proponents of "TASTES GREAT" and "LESS FILLING" prove irreconcilable.
I hope in the future Americans are thought of as a warlike, vicious people, because I bet a lot of high schools would pick "Americans" as their mascot. -Jack Handy
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Old 07-17-2007   #8
T ride, Colorado
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life changing

grand trips are truely life changing. Sometimes that happens a bit differently than normal( ie break ups, fights, etc) but you have to admit it is a learning experience no matter what happens with dynamics. Inner lessioons are taught. My first overnight trip on a river was 21 days on the grand. Hooked... Yes.... Almost gave up kayaking for good... not after the grand.... Friends for life.... every single one of us.... think that if you wait so long for a permit you should take almost as long to pic your crew. Where there tifs on our trip ( I think i recieved several just deserved wedgies), but peaceful people with common respect for each other work it out. Just like you work it out with the rivers when your learning to boat.
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Old 07-17-2007   #9
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I have been invited for a fall 08' trip, and we are already in conversations on almost a daily basis. some are long, some just quick questions. We are all friends, that are pretty much "new friends" 3 of us are SWR instructors that have taught together, and the rest are friends of "ours", that came to participate, or help with classes.

its going to be a challenge to deligate chores/and things to spearhead as far as logistics go.

seems like shuttle, is a done deal. I bringing about 80% of team gear, groover, filter, stoves, blasters, etc.

one guy is doing all the food, ( he is damn good) probably the best i've ever known......( don't tell him though)

The TL is doing his job as well. seems like so good so far. I hope it stays that way.

I have personally been involved with 2 trips when shit hit the fan, and it wasn't good at all. Both were on Deso, with a mix of unknowns. I hope by having more folks that i know, trust, and respect on the trip that we are setting ourselves up for success rather than failure.
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Old 07-17-2007   #10
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I would just like to throw this out there, invite me on a Grand trip and I will do what ever it takes. I get along with everyone, just ask Sunnis, Palestinians, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Gays, Straights, Rafters, Tubers, women , men etc.
970-217-21 six six
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