Poach that - Mountain Buzz

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Old 02-24-2006   #1
JCKeck1's Avatar
Seattle, Washington
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Poach that $hit

Anyone have any info on poaching the Grand? Can it be done? If you manage to put on and they catch you, could you still float all the way to the takeout before the hammer comes down (22 days)? What's the legal penalty? I'm pretty much getting screwed with the new lotto system and I'm sick of seeing the numbers that the commercial boaters get. Finally, do you think it might be possible to purchace a permit from a commercial outfit? I know it'd be expensive, but it'd be worth it to not have tourons and tip seeking/safety minded raft guides with you. I understand the anarchy I'm perpetrating here, but sometimes it must be done.
In the words of the Yellowstone Liberation Army, "Poach that shit"

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Old 02-24-2006   #2
Join Date: Aug 2004
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In the past they have handcuffed and choppered the people out at Phantom and held all boats as evidence. Anyway for those that get caught. Having guided down there and being somewhat anoyed at my fellow Guides anti private stance I would expect to get ratted out. I would say it is about as stupid as an idea as you could come up with from a logistics stand point. sj
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Old 02-24-2006   #3
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I'll take your case pro bono once you're behind bars...
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Old 02-24-2006   #4
Join Date: Sep 2004
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On my winter trip 1999-2000, I ran into a poacher at mile 220, 5 miles from the Diamond take out. He came into our camp and accepted a cup of coffee while he waited for the cover of darkness to paddle down to Diamond and meet his ride. I later found out that he was successful in his solo journey - he made it to Diamond and out with no authorities busting him.


He had done the 225 miles in 8 days in a homemade fiberglass touring kayak. He said he had put his helmet on for Crystal and Lava, and had rolled once in Lava.

As for poaching it in fat style, or during the commercial season, I don't think you'd make it very far. But it can be done.
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Old 02-24-2006   #5
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Englewood, Colorado
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You also would have to pay the NPS for the cost of the chopper ride and any related expenses such as court costs.

Buying a commercial permit isn't really something you can do, but what you can do is wait until fall when they are offering 1/2 price trips. They always do this because...surprise...the outfitters are unable to sell all their slots at full price. But if they don't use the days, then they risk losing them. So, they offer them 2 for 1 late in the season to keep the customers coming. By that math, you could contract for a full trip on your own at 50% off. But that would still be about $2000 per slot, and I wager that since it would be a 3-5 raft trip you'd be buying out...way too expensive. Better to get a crew of kayakers together and have the outfitter row support at the same cost and bring your bros.

I ran (with permit) in Sep/Oct '04, and we did not see any NPS enforcement, just the fish-counters. I think it could fairly easily be poached in the shoulder season, but the cost could be staggering if you were caught. Plus, the NPS may have tne the power to ban poachers from the river, as the BLM does at Westy. Just not worth it when you can pony up 2G for a fall trip.

p.s. Crystal and Lava are two rapids where you most certainly do not need a helmet, unless you run left at Lava or sneak the hole at Crystal far right. But the main lines are deeeeep. And fun!
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Old 02-24-2006   #6
Denver, Colorado
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I remember reading somewhere about guys poaching who got caught, and they got their boats taken, and were charged for the chopper that hauled them out and a fined also. It sounds like the cost of that was probably more than the cost of a commercial trip. To me, the prospect of watching your back, paddling in the dark, hiding your gear etc for such a long time would make the trip a pain in the ass.

As for buying out a commercial trip, if you get it early enough, you can buy every spot on a trip. I talked to a guy named Stan, and he does it every year. He buys the whole trip from an outfitter, signs up kayakers individually, and I assume he gets to run the grand probably for free. Of course you pay for 25 spots at 3000 or $75,000! Ouch. Probably just need to make the deposits for the trip and then rally the kayakers, but you would have to pay if folks backed out. The deposits alone would cost about $7500 - $10000.

There are two groups that I know of that do commercial kayak trips through outfitters, Otter Bar, and this guy Stan Marks. To me that seems like the best bet. You get to go with other kayakers instead of a bunch of tourists. You have to shell out the cash to go, but in my mind it is worth it considering 1) you probably won't get a permit when you want it, 2) its hard planning out a 2-3 week trip if you have any kind of family or job obligations, and 3) Somebody else worries about the food, gear, etc, and you simply paddle and drink beer.

Good luck figuring it out.
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Old 02-24-2006   #7
FoCo,NoCo, Colorado
Join Date: May 2004
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I went on a Stan Marks trip. It was pretty wild and fun. I've been on a few private Grand trips, which I love. If you "just want to kayak the Grand" go with Stan. If you are into exploring and finding your own way, you might be frustrated. The Stan trip is pretty kick back, but you do put some long days in on the river. (No work in camp.) We did a 14 day trip and took out on Lake Mead. Only time I've been down to separation canyon.

Whatever way you can do it a commercial trip is $$$.

It is worth the wait.
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Old 02-24-2006   #8
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anyone have any first hand knowledge of people getting choppered out? No enforcement during the shoulder seasons, eh? Y'all are ridiculous for recommending a commercial trip. That kills all the fun, all the adventure, all the exploration. If I wanted a cabanna boy to do everything for me, I'd go to Hawaii with the rest of the american dream seekers. working out a trip now....
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Old 02-24-2006   #9
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in a van down by the river, Arizona
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getting choppered out of the grand canyon

The only free chopper rides out of the big ditch are those where you sustain a life-threatening emergency. (The NPS averages two of these type of flights a day.)

On the note of getting caught while poaching:
The river rangers DO use the motor rigs. They cover many miles in a day, and if you are paddling solo, you WILL stick out.
Keep in mind the research teams with radios, the spot observers on the rim, the combined forces used to protect lady bu$h that were used for her 3 day upper section, ... you get the point.
When it comes to giving you legal access to the river, the NPS works hard to keep you, the private boater, out of your national lands. When it comes to enforcement, ie: tickets and money-making opporitunities, the NPS does not miss a beat.

Good luck! And if you pull it off, you da man!
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Old 02-24-2006   #10
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
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It's diffinately been done, i met some dudes that did it a few years ago, i believe it was late fall? with a full moon to paddle at night, they went through really quick and did not have any problems.
good luck-poach that shit!!
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