Grand Question!! 14 Days in Winter? - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 11-03-2013   #1
 
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2012
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Grand Question!! 14 Days in Winter?

My friends and I have a Grand Permit this winter but due to time constraints we potentially only have 14-15 days to do it. Any one have any idea about this in regards to day light hours, feasibility, and coldness? Worth it?


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Old 11-03-2013   #2
 
cedar city, Utah
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Originally Posted by ZaneR View Post
My friends and I have a Grand Permit this winter but due to time constraints we potentially only have 14-15 days to do it. Any one have any idea about this in regards to day light hours, feasibility, and coldness? Worth it?

When this winter? The further from mid-December one gets the more comfortable and less challenging the 14-day push would be. That said, I can say, even with daylight hours this May (we had epic winds that tend to be non-existent in the winter) we found it a challenge to make enough miles to make it out in the allotted 16 days.

We launched Jan 9th I believe and took the full 25 days. But that included 5 layover days (maybe 6, time is eroding the memories already). We could have comfortably lopped off a few more days if need be. Much more than that would have been difficult that time of year from my experience. We oscillated from frigid to relatively warm. We only had one boat incident but that ate up half a day (wooden dory). The skill of your crew is something to consider as a team that is more experience and/or is efficient in the event of a flip will make a huge time and safety difference.

Coldness....December is worst from friends comments. Freezing temperatures are common and preventing the various forms of frost bite and moisture-related damage are imperative. Rain can be heavy and persistent thereafter. We had 6 straight days after a week of clear skies. Wet and cold weather can be mitigated but it its demanding physically and emotionally when it lasts that long.

Feasibility....depends on above factors and how much your crew is willing to adapt to the limits. Is your crew willing to get up before dark and rig no matter what? That becomes more important earlier in the year and could be make-or-break in the decision. What are the tendencies of the group? We are camp folks as much as rafters and love exploring the many side canyons (so much to see down there, and some of it is only feasible in the winter).

Would I do it in 14 days? Gut says no way but I know how rare and amazing the experience is down there so that is subjective and I wouldn't likely be so certain if it was the only way to see the Colorado. Is it possible? Almost always a way to make it happen if ya'll are willing to do the needed logistical efforts and be disciplined.

I wouldn't trade my winter trip for anything but it comes with its own challenges. I found it "safer" and more enjoyable than the May trip this year. If/when you decide there are plenty of previous threads here and others who have spent winter in the canyon. Some simple advice will prevent alot of issues. Just let us know what you decide and folks will step up to the plate with more explicit info.

Phillip
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Old 11-03-2013   #3
BCJ
 
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Grand Junction, Colorado
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Go for it. 224 miles to Diamond is only 16 miles/day. Just get up early and don't dally. If I had the permit I couldn't imagine not going.
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Old 11-04-2013   #4
 
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Boulder, Colorado
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Originally Posted by restrac2000 View Post
Feasibility....depends on above factors and how much your crew is willing to adapt to the limits. Is your crew willing to get up before dark and rig no matter what? That becomes more important earlier in the year and could be make-or-break in the decision.
How quickly you break camp, rig and how long breakfast takes is also important. 14 days is definitely doable. You will have at least 9.75 hours of daylight and need 4-5 hours of downstream progress if you take no layovers and have no major mishaps. If you leave an hour for contingency at night, plan a hour for lunch, and 30 minutes for scouting, plus the 5 hours for downstream progress you're at 7.5 hours. That means being on the water within 2 hours of sunrise - although the sun will often not reach your camp in the canyon.

I've done an early November trip and we got a fair bit of hiking done plus had a layover day on a 16 day trip to Diamond Creek. We had about 10.5 - 10.75 hours of sunlight a day. We never rigged in the dark and only got up once or twice before/near sunrise to fit in longer hikes.
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Old 11-04-2013   #5
 
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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Would be fairly easy if you're self-supporting in hardshell boats. Easier and quicker to rig, and way easier to make fast miles. Definitely more difficult if rafting.
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Old 11-04-2013   #6
 
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Last December we were past by a group of kayakers doing an eight day trip to Diamond.
I can't say they weren't having fun but I'll guarantee they slept well at night. 16 miles day is doable but you'll only go a fast as your slowest person. Winter flows can be higher so you'll travel faster.
Have a grand trip!
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Old 11-04-2013   #7
 
Fort Collins, Colorado
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We did 18 days starting Jan 2 last year with rafts. We had a layover day, a half layover while we all came down with norovirus, and another half day delay. It was a bit of a push, but we were far from the fastest group in the morning (especially early in the trip).

Take out the delays and get out early every day and you should be good. It will be a major push though.
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Old 11-04-2013   #8
 
Salida, Colorado
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May I ask what a half layover is?
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Old 11-04-2013   #9
 
Talkeetna, Alaska
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May I ask what a half layover is?
Hitting the bong a little too early in the morning. Technically it is just a late start off the beach.
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Old 11-04-2013   #10
 
Fort Collins, Colorado
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A half layover is when you do a half day on the riverl.

In our case that was because everyone was sick and not up for more than about 5 miles. If everyone isn't sick, they're good if there's a longer hike to do from camp but you still need to get some miles in.
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