The Night Before... - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-22-2019   #1
Sturgis, South Dakota
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 82
The Night Before...

I'm working on some content about the night before craziness that can occur before a multi-day river trip. I'm trying to solicit ideas that help avoid or alleviate the chaos of planning and packing.

What I have so far...

1. checklists...
2. working backwards from what will kill you (if you forget) vs. what might just make you uncomfortable
3. Containerizing your gear...(is that a word?)
4. Not drinking so much when you are packing...

Are there other ideas out there?

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Old 04-22-2019   #2
the grove, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1,781
For a long trip, I usually have everything packed and ready to load in my garage a week before. Then I have time to think things over for a week and remember what I forgot, but also to think things over to remove some items from the stack that we really don't need to bring.

What also really helps is after a trip after everything is cleaned up and ready to sit a bit, pack it back up as if you were leaving for another trip. Then there is lot less looking around and repacking for the next trip, whenever that may be, in 2 weeks or in 2 months.
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Old 04-22-2019   #3
utah county, Utah
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 62
checklist, checklist, checklist
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Old 04-22-2019   #4
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New Castle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 1,254
My approach has been to clean and pack as much as possible two weeks before. Load the the truck in the week before and hitch it up when not needed. Grocery shop and pre-chill the coolers two nights before. Buy liquor. Make food. Have everything ready to throw in last minute and get so drunk I don’t know at the ramp if I remembered everything.
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Old 04-22-2019   #5
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Hampden, Massachusetts
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 347
On my way home from work, I like to get my wife something nice. Like a cup of soft serve or some flowers. If she’s happy, she does all the thinking and she helps with the packing the night before the trip.....Then I can blame her later....hahaha

Two weeks before a trip... man you need more rafting in your life to keep you busy
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Old 04-22-2019   #6
Bellingham, Washington
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 167
Only invite experienced boaters that you personally know from previous trips.

Checklist or not, it's always "that guy" who screws things up. It's gonna be "that guy" whose truck or trailer fails enroute because he didn't have time to do maintenance on it before the trip. And it's gonna be "that guy" who gets food poisoning from a truck stop vending machine because he didn't plan on leaving so late and nothing was open after midnight. And, of course, it's gonna be "that guy" who discovers that he's missing some critical piece of equipment at the put in because he waited until the last minute to pack. About the only thing you can always count on 100% of the time from "that guy" is an excuse because he's got an endless supply of those. You simply can't help "that guy" get his sh-- together so don't invite him in the first place. Problem solved!

I realize that's not the answer you're looking for, but it's the only way you can know for certain that you're not in for a sh--show at the put in or anywhere else along the trip. Personally, I think it's always fun to invite some new faces along, too, but I try to make sure they are outnumbered by folks I know I can count on. The longer the trip, the more important this becomes.
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Old 04-22-2019   #7
Boise, ID
Paddling Since: '99
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 287
Always dial the group gear you’re responsible for first. Pack the clothes and shelter you’ll need to survive next. Remember the survival rule of threes. Then start drinking your beverage of choice and start packing the other stuff you want to bring. If you forget something while you’re drinking, it won’t hose the group and you’ll make it down the river.
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Old 04-22-2019   #8
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,710
If you're the TL, delegate group gear and meals so everything's spread evenly among the group. And, yes, checklists - they save your brain for the important things.

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 04-22-2019   #9
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 193
screw checklists and all that sissy stuff. take a couple of bonghits of colorados finest weed and pull out all your stuff into the driveway. then do a few more bonghits and spend about 20 minutes staring at it all, absorbing the river vibes it gives off, and start trying to figure out if you really need all this shit. if you forget something important, dont worry, your still going to have a lot more stuff than powell had when he ran a lot tougher rapids than you'll be going on. then do a couple more bonghits and start tossing all your shit into the truck. this allways works for me.
I'll boat til the rivers run dry
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Old 04-23-2019   #10
Never enough free time
Red Lodge, Montana
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 299
I try to have everything done at least two nights before so that the actual night before is chill...because you always need one extra thing, be it another pack of batteries or whatever. Of course it almost never actually happens that way but since you are mostly done, the little things stay little things and don't snowball on you.

This way, the night before is spent just dinking (or drinking) around and not starting your trip stressed out. I do keep a note pad handy for those random thoughts that occur when checking the trailer tires one more time or double checking the lights on it, like do I really have the right size wrench to get the spare tire off of the trailer?

And when the particular river allows it, I like to get there a day early so I have time to deal with whatever comes up while there is still time. On a trip last year, I literally had a buddy forget something medically necessary and he had time to drive out to cell range and have one of the late comers go by his house and pick up the thing. That could have been a mess on the river if there wasn't time to just slow down and think while sipping cocktails in a lawn chair the day before launch.
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