Grand Canyon Night Float - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 02-05-2018   #1
 
richjz's Avatar
 
Salt Lake City, Utah
Join Date: May 2012
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Grand Canyon Night Float

We have a permit for mid-June. Permit holder has to be home limiting our trip to 17 days. I don't really want to take out at Diamond after past experiences but haven't gone all the way to Pearce (actually South Cove) since I was 13 and on a commercial trip. Wondering about the feasibility of camping just above Diamond on day 15, floating all the way to Separation Canyon day 16 and then barging up for a night float to Pearce. Too ambitious for the miles? I've looked at threads on GC takeouts and most of them push for going to Pearce but none seem to talk about the schedule we would need to keep.
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Old 02-05-2018   #2
 
Salt Lake City, Utah
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So if you take one of the "...last chance above DC" camps you're only going to have a 16-20 mile day if you plan to stop at Separation (RM240). There's good current in there below DC, and with the long days of mid-June you should have no problem getting at least that far ... whether you barge or float or motor, the river still has decent current (maybe 2 mph?) but the walls are fairly close together until around Quartermaster (RM260). Note also "Sandbar Alley" before you get to Quartermaster... once past there, watch for the Hualapai boat docks on the left but otherwise you're out of the "narrow" part and off to Pearce.
Of course the variable in all this is wind. Doesn't take much to put paid to your night float barge plans... and if you break up and row, it can get real old in a hurry. Make miles when conditions permit. I'd allow 12-14 hours for the 40 miles from Separation to Pearce, without wind, and that's rowing or at least keeping oars in the water and staying off sandbars. The more it blows, the more it blows...
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Old 02-05-2018   #3
 
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With that schedule you should be able to make it work pretty easy! Things below Diamond move along pretty quickly down to Separation and many stop there for a quick early dinner/barge up and then put on for their night float out before dark. Someone needs to stay awake to navigate the 'ship' and keep it in the current but depending on flow and start time you could be at Pearce before daylight.
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Old 02-05-2018   #4
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Tabernash, Colorado
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Think you'll be fine going to Pierce.
Did 21 days to pierce this Dec-Jan, with short daylight hours, small crew though. Still got 2.5 layover days. Surprise canyon, downstream of separation, was looking to be in good shape, so could be decent backup, if separation is taken. That is about where things really turned into the lake. Some current to pierce though.
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Old 02-05-2018   #5
 
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Lakewood, Colorado
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Last February/March we did the night float. We camped at Travertine Falls for our last full night on land in the canyon and then made our way to Spencer Canyon where we made dinner, grooved and lashed the boats together. There are few riffles in the first couple miles from there but nothing bad...just watch out for canyon walls.

We always had two people stay up and man the oars and look out for sand bars. Most people fell asleep around 10pm, including myself, and slept through the night. I think we pushed off around 8pm and floated through the night. I think we hit Pearce Ferry around 7am. That is a 34 mile float in 11 hours or so, so about 3mph average speed. Flows will most likely be higher in June, so the average speed might go up to 4-5mph. I think someone has a chart of what to expect for that float but I'm not sure where to find it.

On my August trip in 2016 we rowed all the way to the boat docks after camping at Travertine Falls. Definitely made better time since we were actively rowing. Still ended up night floating, but from the boat docks its only about 17 miles to Pearce and the higher flows made the float only 5 hours. Since we started floating right around twilight (so 8-9pm) that meant we arrived at Pearce at 1am. That wasn't nearly as fun...plus we spent most of the afternoon in Quartermaster Canyon having helicopters fly 500 feet over our heads every 90 seconds.

Needless to say, I never need to experience that again. I ended up derigging when we got there...mostly because I knew it was gonna be hot the next day. Some of the personal relations had fallen apart at the point, so it honestly didn't end super well but that doesn't have much bearing on this thread.

I'd say either do the night float from Seperation, Spencer or Suprise canyon. I say do it overnight to avoid Helicopter traffic too. The other big difference between the trips was one we had a nearly full moon and the other not at all....which makes the experience much more difficult since you can only see stuff with flashlights. I definitely recommend the night float though. Only real other option is to bring a motor and try to push hard to get out ASAP but that adds complication to things and means you either have to arrange to have a motor dropped at Diamond or carry it down the whole canyon with you. Can't say either option sounds that awesome. Its nice to end the canyon on your own power too. The day of rowing we had on my last trip was actually a really nice way to wind down the trip.

Kind of too bad it really ended in Helicopters and arguments during the night float and people not talking to each other while de-rigging at 1am.
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Old 02-05-2018   #6
 
Klamath Falls, Oregon
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night float

night float is awesome
https://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f...oat-32363.html
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Old 02-06-2018   #7
 
Helena, Montana
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Night Float

Have done it both ways over the years. Both have their plusses and minuses.... Another option we did in 1996 or 2003 I think was to have Canyon REO bring us a cataraft with a transom and motor, fresh food and ice to Diamond Creek.

That was the way to go in my opinion. They were going to diamond anyway, so the charge was not anything extraordinary. I think they even took a bunch of trash and full groove cans for us as well. We had the food, groover, & shuttle package if memory serves. Fresh ice and food the last few days can re energize the batteries. Then we enjoyed the camps the last few days and motored out to (old) Pearce Ferry at a leisurely pace. Well worth looking into IMHO. Have fun.
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Old 02-06-2018   #8
 
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Crested Butte, Colorado
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My first trip through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado river we were supposed to take out at Diamond and the road was washed out (for 3 days). Our outfitter told us the bad news after we had everything de-rigged. So 4 of our 8 hiked out at diamond and the remaining 4 pumped up boats re-rigged and got back on the water about 6pm. We floated through the night and got to Pearce at 9 o'clock the next morning. So its definitely possible. The way we did it wasn't ideal and was totally rushed but it is possible, Just tough to find a place to set up the groover at 6 in the morning. We also had our first flip at fang....but wrangling 3 18 foot boats, one being upside down, with 4 people, one in the water is a story for a different thread....

Good Luck!
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Old 02-07-2018   #9
 
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Salt Lake City, Utah
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Thanks for the good info. Looks like we will be just past the full moon for our night float so it should be a pretty canyon. We are looking forward to it.


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Old 02-09-2018   #10
 
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at my house, Montana
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6 years ago we did a night float on the night of the full moon. It was awesome, but cccccold. It had been in the 90's during the day. Be prepared for extremes.

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