Another grand canyon newb question - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 01-27-2018   #1
 
Eagle Mountian, Utah
Paddling Since: 2007
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Another grand canyon newb question

OK, my river friends laugh at the fact that I almost always approach rapids standing up to get as much info as I can before I finally make my move and drop in. SO here I am standind in my seat like a meerkat trying to get some info.

My friend drew a GC permit for July 2018 and has invited me. I have a 16 foot boat and have rowed Deso a couple of times, the San Juan a couple of times, and westwater once at low water. I'd love to ask if you all think I'm ready but I predict the answers will be something like "who cares, you can't be ready, just go anyway".....that's what I was thinking. So here's a few questions

July grand trip....dry suit, splash pants and jacket, NRS hydroskin, what might work best? I'm a big guy and don't find I Get cold too easily. What about my wife she gets cold pretty easily?

Everything bag or king sling (I would like more security than I have had just strapping things down)

I already plan on getting the rivermaps guide book, but wondering what the best guide is on side hikes.

Any other advice or wisdom you'd like to pass on would be welcome

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Old 01-28-2018   #2
 
Grand Junction, Colorado
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I'm jealous. No, you're not ready. You're never ready for the Grand. Go!

My thoughts:

- It's fine stand on the deck to see the line ahead. I've done WW about 70 times and still stand and look at Funnel, Skull, and Sock.

- Get as much time as possible on the river, even if it's just a casual float. Westwater is a good river to practice on and the permit system makes it easier to get permits. Midday permits sometimes go unused.

- In July it's going to be HOT and the water is always COLD. I have experience with July. Every day reached at least 110. If you have a dry suit, take it. If not, take a wet suit. Put it on for the big rapids. Take some other splash gear, your choice. I never even used them on my July trip. Even if you get wet, you'll be dry and hot in no time.

- King Sling. Practice rigging your boat several time to make sure you have everything you want and in the right. It wouldn't hurt to take the fully rigged boat for a test run.

- The Tom Martin RiverMaps guide.

Have a great time!
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Old 01-28-2018   #3
 
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Lakewood, Colorado
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Seems silly to me that you get ribbed for boat scouting...seems like a normal practice to me. Asking for advice is certainly a good thing too.

Yes...you are most likely ready. We had two guys on my last trip that had never rowed a raft at all that managed just fine. It was a bit rough the first couple days, but they still managed without much drama. If you've rowed Westwater at any level you should be fine in the Grand. It will certainly be the biggest whitewater you've done, but you'll be fine. Most of the rapids in the Grand are mostly about lining up at the top in the right spot and keeping it straight. A few take some maneuvering, but are very doable. Scouting is your friend.

July is hot season, so definitely leave the drysuit at home. You can bring splash or neoprene gear but you might not use it. The water is cold (47 degrees at Lee's since it comes out of the bottom of Lake Powell), but the air is hot. Monsoon season doesn't usually start till August so chance for rain during your trip isn't as great but possible. Many like to bring minimal clothes on summer trips but at least having a rain jacket is helpful. Definitely bring a lightweight long sleeved sun shirt and pants, as that is the best way to keep from getting sunburned. A nice wide brim Hat helps a ton too. I did an August trip in 2016 and I don't think I wore more then shorts and button up collared t-shirt the whole trip and slept on a bare Roll a Cot on my boat with a bed sheet to cut the morning coolness. Maybe a light fleece blanket or sleeping bag...but you may not even need those.

I always forget the exact name, but Tom Martin has a book that is something like "Hikes in the Grand Canyon" or something like that. He's the dude who co-wrote the Rivermaps book down there and the side hikes book is a good addition. None of the the river guides tend to give many details about the hikes other then to say they are there sometimes.

The only other advice I'd say is since its July and the weather will be warm to hot, you don't need to go crazy with bringing a ton of gear. Sleeping bag...maybe. A bed sheet may suffice. Tent...also maybe...you may find yourself sleeping under the stars either on land or on your boat. Setting up a spot on your boat to sleep on helps a ton with keeping comfortable. I think you'll find that you'll have a harder time keeping cool then staying warm.

Drink lots and lots of water. Bring something to help with dry skin too i.e. lotion, balm, etc. A couple good books. I always mean to bring a Journal and use it and never do but regret it afterwards.

I'll leave it there. I'm sure there will be plenty of advice.
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Old 01-28-2018   #4
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Tabernash, Colorado
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Great advice.
Day Hikes from the River by Tom Martin, Vishnu Temple Press.
I do a lot of boat scouting myself, especially in the Grand Canyon, I feel it does me more good than land scouting much of the time, since everything looks so different once I am on the water, and set up is usually the key for almost all the rapids down there.
This is NOT to cheapen the importance of stopping to scout the big ones, you should do that!

Have an awesome trip down there!!
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Old 01-28-2018   #5
 
thornton, Colorado
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If you use the stand up technique, hold the oar handles behind you when you stand up to scout a rapid, that way if you catch an oar tip on a rock the handle will not pop you in the nut sack, you only need to experience that once. Some use the other under water technique to scout a rapid, the 720 view from three feet under the river waters surface. Some end up using a combination of both on the same rapid. It's like going into a class 5 saloon in Tijuana Mexico with a bottle of no name whisky sitting on the table, you can scout it or just dive right into it. You might have to run more rivers in the lower 48 states to know the great adventure you are going to miss by not going down into the Grand Canyon.
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Old 01-28-2018   #6
 
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lafayette or Grand Lake, CO., Colorado
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If you do not have a Bimini, I would recommend one. A river wing can also be a life saver. Sleeping on the boat is about 10 degrees cooler at night and less sand if the wind blows. Take extra cheap cotton socks, gloves and lube up hands and feet before getting in bed. Take double the necessary prescription meds, packed waterproof in two different locations.
Take back up prescription glasses, sunglasses and etc.
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Old 01-28-2018   #7
 
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Vancouver, Washington
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Yeah. Take me.
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Old 01-28-2018   #8
 
Montrose, Colorado
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Some good advice here.
If you have done Deso in the summer, Westwater anytime, and are going with solid people, then you have enough experience.
On my July trip, I use a roll-a-cot with a layering system of cotton sheet, 40 degree bag, and a bivy. Bivy was only used during rain. Cotton sheet was used all the time, and the lightweight 40 degree bag was used when I woke up in the middle of the night a bit chilly - which happened a couple times after the rain. I prefer the roll-a-cot method to tenting for comfort, and (like Deso) if the wind comes up the sand will blow beneath you instead of into the tent.

Splash top and maybe a lightweight wetsuit at best. You will only wear them if in a duckie or for those rapids with a higher chance of flipping than most. Water is cold, but you will warm up fast in that high heat.

I had a bimini, but would not take one again. I mostly used it in camp when I wanted shade while rigging, de-rigging, and when waiting out a rainstorm. On the river I found it impeded the view to much.

Go light on gear. Quick dry and layers. You are in and out of the water all the time anyway, so a change of clothes is kind of pointless. You will almost certainly pack twice as much in clothing than you actually use, so edit ahead of time.

I did bring two PFDs. One very lightweight Astral for most of the time, and a high float for the big rapids. Since I did not swim, I could have gotten by with just the lightweight, but it did make me feel better to have a backup.

Good advice on redundant footwear sunglasses and hats. You, or someone you are with will need it!
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Old 01-28-2018   #9
 
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lafayette or Grand Lake, CO., Colorado
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Quitehunter, I found I did not use Bimini on the river very much like you, but a lot at camp for shade. Sitting on my boat in the shade was cooler than on shore and my Ice in my cooler lasted till end of trip, which I believe was helped by additional time in shade and a wet blanket.
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Old 01-28-2018   #10
 
Jenks, Oklahoma
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lots of good tips here.

I would take a small tent just in case, you probably will not use it but on three different GC floats, all had one day or all night storm. I sleep close to the water on my rollacot or on my first trip I did not have a rollacot. I did have a paco pad and sheet. What I did and it worked just about every night when we had a beach was to put my paco on the damp sand with my feet off the bottom edge of the paco. If the tide went out ok, if it came in the water would wet my feet and wake me up to move a few feet up the beach. If it was really hot I just wet down the sheet and cooled down with it.

My choice is to sleep outside. I take a lightweight small tarp and place it by the paco if it looks like a night shower. If it rains, I just pack the tarp around me and snooze away.

I always stand up to watch the first boat run the big drops. As mentioned the key to almost all GC drops is position going in and facing your raft in the right direction. FOR SURE: The GC is more powerful current in places than any place else most of us will paddle. Make small position changes way way earlier than you think. It is easy to be late getting into position and miss the entrance. Also build up momentum early on if you have to make a move in the rapid. Do not wait till the last moment to either start pushing or pulling. At home practice the double oar spin move till it is automatic, there may be a time when you start out say pushing and need to do a mighty fine pull to avoid danger.

Spend the money for a first class sand stake and have a lot longer tie in rope than you think you need. I also have a good sand stake driving hammer in my raft.

I would not worry about your experience. I have seen super qualified boaters screw up a GC move and first timers have great runs. The GC is the great equalizer of river runs. It is also the most exciting every day river trip most of us will ever experience.

As someone else posted, the more you can row and make hard moves before you do the GC, the better prepared you will be.

Take a good hand lotion and use it on your hands and feet. Hide a lot of lip protection in your on the water rowing gear. The sun and low humidly will crack your lips, fingers and toes before you know. A big floppy sun hat and sunglasses are a must and take spares. Put safety cords on hat and glasses.

Be safe, have fun, drink a bunch of water all day long (beer tastes good but plain ole water is needed as well). The Grand Canyon float is the trip of a lifetime that once done needs doing again.
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