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I am putting together my itinerary for a 20-day trip from Lee's to Pearce and pretty much have the highlights embedded into the itinerary for the park (first time down the river for me, so doing the best I can). I melded memories/itinerary stops from a friend's summer experience with another friend's bitter cold winter experience to create a possible March itinerary. Is there any place anyone suggests stopping in March over other times of the year?

Also, I'm having trouble with the tail end of our trip and wonder if anyone has suggestions. I have a 30-mile day built into the itinerary from Parashant to Travertine Falls on Day 18. It's by far the longest day on the trip and it worries me, probably rightfully so. The longest day in the rest of the trip is 21.6 miles; most days are in the 15-mile mark. It looks like there are some good hikes between Parashant and Travertine (205 mile canyon hike; pumpkin spring) and I'm not sure about the current in general, let alone in March. Is this WAY too long to be on the river at the tail end of the canyon? Or is this doable? (and, is it recommended to do, even if it's doable :) )

Just FYI and if anyone has any suggestions, I have us following that day up with 15 miles to Spencer Canyon and then 35 miles night float out to Pearce. Should we extend our night float and even out the days between Parashant and wherever we stay before the night float? Anyone have suggestions?
 

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welllll this is always something of a point of contention..... where to camp, how far to try to go in a day. Most lopsided mileages I ever worked .... TL wanted to do a layover day at Tuck Up. Fine. Tuckup Canyon has a few lovely places to hike. But we were at the time two days before take out. Hmmmmmm. If memory serves (and it doesn't most times) we rowed something like 80 miles in two days with the Separation to Pearce night float after..... In this light your measly little 30 mile day does not seem so awful.
Other thing is, you can lay out all the itinerary you want... it seems as though in near on 300 miles and three weeks of rio it never quite works out like it does on paper ... good to have a target to shoot at tho..... and campsites get sparse below Diamond.
 

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Old Guy in a PFD
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"The best planned itinerary does not survive first contact with the water."

Write that down. Stencil it on your gear. Print it on your menus and packing lists. Tattoo it on your forehead.

Make your plans, submit them to the authorities, and go with the flow. No need to stress, the river Gods will see to it that whatever you think you will be doing, they will change.
 

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Ha! I'm with Schutz. Only 7 trips but each one where we "sweated" over an itinerary was LESS memorable than the ones where we just has some general ideas and then "went with the flow" simply keeping track, generally, of where we are. Miles can always be made up. There is always another camp. Weather, moods, everything changes every day. Surprises are great! Change is good! Leave "cutting in line" and "being first to get to the stoplight" at home.
 

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PS Precisely-managed itineraries that include lots of side hikes, etc. are certainly OK, but the TL has to crack the whip and have everyone on board to make that happen.
 

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I'll be launching on the 5th so I'm sympathetic with the process. My personal strategy is to make an itinerary but be VERY flexible. My 1st march trip I was the PH but we had a 5x veteran TL who kept pushing us to stay longer in the inner canyon and plan on long (25-30 mile) days at the end. He was right
 

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Such a fine problem to have! We launch March 8....

I have done trips both ways now. March 2013 I was the PH/TL and we had an itinerary. We were generally able to stick to it, but there were times we had to crack the whip a bit. YMMV. The caveat is that we had a backcountry permit for an overnight hike, as well as an exchange we had to make. Plus, being my first trip, I was trying to cram as much into those 21 days as I could...

This past June I went along on a much different style of trip. We had a day we had to get to Diamond to take out and that was it. We generally talked about what we wanted to do everyday and where we wanted to go and just made it happen. We didn't take any layovers either. Night 13 (of 15) we stayed at Fern Glen. The next night we were just above Parashant and the last night was at 220. The river trip really became about being on the water below Lava.

This year, I am not the PH, but could be considered the TL. I have made a rough itinerary that I used when putting the menu together. The point of this was to identify the day we exchange at Phantom and the day we pass Diamond. It was pretty easy to figure out the big water days (upper Granite Gorge to Phantom, the run from Horn/Granite through the Gems, The 'Aisles' and Lava Day). I was able to plan some easy breakfasts and dinners on the appropriate nights after long days, or before long days, etc. I am not set on any particular camp (except 1), so we have built in plenty of time above Lava (18 days I think). So we will still go with the flow, but I have figured out how to coordinate that with the big water days and likely layovers. I think we are going to take maybe 3 layovers.

I'm not going to sweat staying at one camp over another, and I am not going to sweat skipping a layover for a couple of longer hiking days. It's just not worth it. The one main difference with this March's trip versus 2013 is I can't justify 3 nights below Lava. I believe 2 nights is plenty if you do not have any specific hiking goals down in that stretch. So I guess that will mean a couple of 25+ miles days before we cross Diamond. So something like Fern to above Parashant (likely Whitmore Area) to 220-222, then down to Spencer to night float. Don't sweat it, if you fall a few miles short one day, just make them up the next day.

Now, since this is your first trip, I'm sure you know you can't see it all. On that first trip, we had an A, B, C camp with hiking options from each along with a list of things to see between each camp. Poll everyone at night during dinner, or in the morning once the boats or rigged. You will likely all be getting on the same page about:

1. Where is lunch
2. What rapids
3. Any Scouts
4. Where are we going to hike?
5. Where is our target camp?
6. What is our second choice camp?

You should use this time to see what everyone wants to do and make a decision from there. If you target 14 miles one day and do 16 instead, then take a shorter day later, etc. Go with the flow man. You will never see it all in a single trip....
 

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A 30 mile day isn't that big of a deal down there as long as:
a) There's no upstream wind
b) People are healthy (no hurt backs, shoulders, etc.)

Honestly - I get a little leery about itineraries that put long days at the very end. In my opinion - putting some long days in at the beginning is no big deal - you'd rather have more time to screw around at the end of the trip than at the beginning. "Going with the flow" is a good idea if you have a motivated crew... but can be a total pain in the ass with a crew that would rather default to doing 10 mile days.

Pumpkin springs in a worthwhile but short hike... and travertine falls is a must-do (but again, only 45 minutes or so if you don't want to hang out in the waterfall). You can certainly schedule things that way, but I would be inclined to bang out some miles in the beginning and leave yourself more time at the end. Also keep in mind that it may be windy in March - so counting on the night float could end up being a bad call if the weather turns sour.

Annnnddd... just remember that the river map isn't gospel. What is considered a "good camp" on the map might suck when you show up, and what they call a "small camp" might be awesome if your crew is more compact.
 

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I did a March 23? launch 2010, 19 days to diamond 22 to Pearce with 3 days of layovers, all easy river days in my opinion. We could have pushed a little and done 4 layovers easily.
 

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30 miles below Lava

30 miles is Way doable and the key is time spent on the water. The water travels 3-4 miles an hour depending on flows. It will most likely be low 8-12K. So, you could think about it as 3.5 mph minimum. It will take you 8.5 hours of uninterrupted on river progress. It would help to get the troops out of bed, off the beach, and on the water by 8am. Make sure you build your lunch in the morning at breakfast or night before, to make it easy.

Yeah you may miss something but You Can't Do it All in one trip. It's gonna take a lifetime only doing one trip a year.

OR the Lunch boat can make lunch for everyone while on the float. Peeps have to be easy and not have alot of picky eaters for this method. PBJ's or Everybody gets everything. Make it easy for the sammy makers.

Anyway if you kick off at 8 you will pull into camp at 4pm like clockwork barring any flips and major wind events. One reason to get off early is due to the wind which can come up in the afternoon about 3. And of course wind can come in at anytime from anywhere disclaimer.

Although I wouldn't suggest it because of all the goods you miss, we recently(Thanksgiving) did a 4 boat 10 day trip to Diamond with 3 first time rowers, 2 with one trip under their chastity belt and a crazy russian. We were off the beach by 8am and pulled into camp by 4pm netting 30 miles/day for the first 3 days at 6-9K. We did many other 30 mile days past Phantom. We only scouted 3 rapids House, Hance, and Lava and it was a quick peek. Generally speaking after we made our 22.5 mile goal each day we would keep paddling and bank it for later where we would take time for a hike, or fishing.

At the end of the trip I asked the guys if we could do a 20 day trip next time? Yeah, 10 layovers will be cool! was the response. The Crazy russians response was that we were all pussys and next time he will bring 3 cartons of smokes instead of 1, more vodka, go left at Bedrock, smash the wimpy crystal hole and give a proper russian boat kiss to the Ledgehole.

No fuck shit!

Brady
 

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Hi,

On one occasion (for reasons too complicated to get into, since I'd much rather dawdle my way down the river) I went from Whitmore to just above Diamond (224.5) in eight hours.

Forty miles, sixteen foot cat, no wind to speak of, no stops, ate on the fly. I left camp at 7 am, and was sitting on the high beach there on river left at 3:00 pm. It sure helps if your "stay in the main current" skills are up to snuff. But if a tired old coot like me can do it, most other folks could be in that ballpark if they had to.

Most days, the real determining factor as to ease and enjoyment of a push like that is whether you're fighting the wind or not. On another occasion, I struggled very hard all day, just to get from 211 to Diamond on a bad windy day.

FWIW.

Rich Phillips
 

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Oddly enough, I have had to pull into the wind every single time I have rounded the bend just past Pumpkin Springs, by the diving board. That little corridor loves to push back upstream. I'm 2 for 2 at least. YMMV.
 

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Flexibility is too rigid a word

Experience in the GC - as most others have stated - dictates a relaxed attitude towards campsites. That said the "planning" process is a good exercise. It really helps with overall river awareness. I keep a shorthand list - by river mile - of campsites - laminated and available. Even in March you can expect to encounter others already camped in your intended campsite. Helps to speak about intentions with every group that passes you or that you pass .

You may want to try and communicate with others launching the same day, the day before and after your launch site - this site or others can help facilitate that. Wind in March will likely alter your plans. Flipped boats will alter your plans. Holed boats will alter your plans. No end to the things that will alter your plans - but that's a big part of the adventure. Don't sweat the small stuff.
 

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For what it's worth we did a layover at Travertine Falls and it was my all time favorite campspot on the whole river.
 

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What I remember is the falls and just sitting there on a hot day with the water coming over me and cooling me off. Saw the best moonrise ever there. There were also these crazy breeding frogs that serenaded you at night. There wasn't a great group gathering area, but at that point in the river we were all sick of each other anyway.
 

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Serenity

The kitchen area is quaint and homey with a slight slope to all crazy creek and look out at the river. Across the river there is this great fluted wall. The waterfall lightly trickling down all night is a great way to fall asleep.

One time we all hiked up the schist scree to the top of the waterfall. I fell asleep and everyone left. When I woke up, I looked around and thought, "shit everyone left?!?" I took one step and I was surrounded by 3 rattlesnakes that all let it RIP at the same time! :-| I was paralyzed to move until I got my bearings and realized I wasn't dreaming. They were all just out of striking distance. It was March. Scared the crap out of me:)

It would be neat to hike the water back to the source,

Brady
 

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Old Guy in a PFD
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You might also remember that once you push off at Lees Ferry no one cares if or when you come out the other end. No one will check, with a couple of cautions;

1) If you need to yell for help someone might ask where you were supposed to be and what you were supposed to be doing at that particular time. I suspect that as long as you aren't somewhere around mile 8 when this happens, and you are on day 28 of a 16 day permit it won't raise many eyebrows. And, you always have the option of making shit up.

2) If you have homesteaded a garden or built a semi permanent camp you might find some raised eye brows, but again; as long as the cover story doesn't involve aliens, government agents with time machines or can't be told with a straight face, you should be OK.
 

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We camped at truck stop just after Diamond on the right. GREAT camp. Floated the next day down to Spencer and then night floated out with a full moon. Other than that, we had no itinerary on purpose.

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