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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Honestly, I applied for the 2021 GC lottery as more of a lark. I mean, what are the chances your first time entering, EVER? Well apparently....


I picked a small, 8 person group permit up. (5/30/21) I have not seen much discussion about small group permits. Is 2 18' boats adequate? I will have to rent as my boat is a 14'.


My other, insane idea is to invite 4 to join us that have also never been down before.


Yes, yes I know I am a noob. And yes, I know after drawing a Main this year and a GC for next year my user name is ruined. But I would love any sage advice for a small group trip.
 

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Well you had better change your user name STAT! Congratulations.

We're going this May and are renting three boats for the party of 8, two just seems too cozy. We have all our own gear but have elected to rent 18 footers, most gear and do the full food pack etc. with Ceiba. Just don't want to wrangle stuff for that long even though we have done a couple of 20 day trips on the Salmon. We are old and getting lazy :)

I'm super stoked for the small group, been on large group trips a couple of times and they were awesome but to be with just the people we regularly boat with will be extra special.
 

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Yep 3 18' rafts. I assume you have an experienced GC trip leader. Great time of year to go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I might take you up on that Mathew. Sounds like 3 boats is more practical, which I guessed. I have a family of 4, so that means say 2 groups of 2, or a family of 3 and an individual to fill out .....One place where small group gets a little complicated for sure.



No experienced GC trip leader. The idea is to possibly take 4 more down that have never been before, and discover the canyon together for the first time. So 2 more rowers with river experience, but like me have never hit the Grand Canyon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I’m doing 4 boats w/ (7) people. You don’t necessarily need GC experience to qualify, just equivalent experience.

Thing is I am the only rower in my family....But yes, the GC permit requires experience on big rivers, Salmon, Green, Colorado Ect.I thought his hint was you should have someone with prior GC trip leader experience go with you. Honestly, not a bad idea. Just trying something different.
 

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3 would be far preferable to two. Its not just 8 people, but 8 people plus gear and food for 8 people which would be very tight. Also, if there was an issue with one boat it is good to have more than one additional craft.

Bringing non-boaters is great but as a personal rule on all trips I always bring at least one more capable (not necessarily experienced) rower than there are boats. Two years ago I had an 8 person trip with 4 boats and our most experienced boater injured her arm day three. Fortunately we had more than 4 capable rowers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
3 would be far preferable to two. Its not just 8 people, but 8 people plus gear and food for 8 people which would be very tight. Also, if there was an issue with one boat it is good to have more than one additional craft.

Bringing non-boaters is great but as a personal rule on all trips I always bring at least one more capable (not necessarily experienced) rower than there are boats. Two years ago I had an 8 person trip with 4 boats and our most experienced boater injured her arm day three. Fortunately we had more than 4 capable rowers.

Great advice! Makes total sense.
 

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Yes 3 boats. I was TL for a small group a while back and I was the only one with GC experience. We had two others with solid rowing skills and a few more after that who could help make miles, we had no issues whatsoever. River experience matters, GC experience not as much but to have at least one person who has been there will help immensely. The river itself is actually pretty forgiving, it will be GC specific logistics that you will be lacking if nobody has been.
 

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I did a small trip last year and it was great! I would take at least three boats. We did all of our own food, which was more work prior to the trip but so much more efficient during the trip, totally worth the effort. There are a number of great camps that become available to small groups that would not work with full size groups. I definitely recommend doing a night float to Pearce at the end.
 

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Small Group Strategy

DidNotWin,
Congrats! I had a small group permit April/May of 2015. 3 18’ ft boats, whole package deal from Ceiba. I strongly recommend renting similar setup from one of the outfitters, they can configure their boats to accommodate your trip easier than shoehorning all the food and gear into your personal rigs. And less wear and tear on your gear.

The issue my group ran into during our run was not enough qualified or experienced folks on an expedition length rafting trip. It quickly became clear that there were only three competent rowers to handle majority of the rapids and two of our group had never done a multi day rafting trip before. Most will say that’s on me as TL but in the end they were the only folks I knew who could make the trip. If your entire group is familiar with the work requirements of a multi day raft trip and can pitch in happily and readily, you’ll be fine. It just becomes painfully obvious when true noobs struggle on a trip that long. There’s still the same amount of work to be done as a 16 person trip so everyone needs to be 100% dialed. It also added some stress knowing that an injury to one of our rowers would have completely changed the probability of success for our group.

I would also consider taking out at Diamond. I’ve floated to Pierce twice and ... meh. Seeing the Canyon end is a powerful experience that was greatly compromised by the Heli’s and depressing cut of the “river” through the silt beds. With a small group you can pack more days in the upper 225 miles and add an extra zero day or two.

I had a blast planning my trip and despite some of our personnel issues we all had a great time. Set yourself up for success and bring the most qualified rowers/positive expedition members you can because there’s fewer places to hide on a small trip. I’d be happy to discuss more if you’d like. Have a great time gearing up for next year!
 

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I'm going to need you to change your username so that I can change my username to yours. I'll take some luck wherever I can find it. Thanks in advance and just shoot me a DM as soon as you do it so I can make sure and grab yours...
 

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I think renting entire trips is a shame. The Grand is the pinnacle of western boating. I've dedicated much of my life to boating and by renting all your gear it cheapens the experience.

If you where only a family of two I'd say run your 14 but with four you will need a bigger boat. You have a year to find and build a 18ft rig. My 18 ft Rogue cost lest then 3k and uses a lot of gear from my 16ft cat. Also don't dismiss a bucket boat for the Grand a family of 4 has plenty of time to bail.

Invite boatmen first and let them invite one guest. The biggest problem I see with permit holders these days is they invite passengers first then boatmen. The "outdoor enthusiast with grand permit looking for boatmen" posts are getting pretty old.

Putting together a Grand isn't much harder then putting together any other permitted river. The required gear on those rivers is the same as what the Grand takes. People get all caught up in the food aspect of it, as long as you delegate to the boat captains its not that hard.

Last Grand trip I TL on we had 11 people and five boats, 3 16ft and 2 18ft. I split the meals up by boat and cooler size. We did 22 days to Pearce, first boat had the first 3 days,next had 4 ,next had 4 then my 18ft
had the next five then the last 18ft had the last six days. It was up to each boat captain to figure out his meals, if he wants to delegate to his passengers on what to cook that's on him but the TL is out of it.
If a person can't come up with 3-5 days worth of meals maybe they shouldn't be on the trip.
The couple running the other 18ft decided to rent there boat and food pack from Moi because they thought it would be easier. Its easier in the fact that yes you pick the boat up and then drop it off and you are done. But there meals where super labor intensive. Bare minimum two hour prep for dinner and a four hour fajita night. It was like watching some twisted couples trust building therapy. I thinks its a 1 to 1.5 ratio on time spent at home prepping vs time spent cooking on the river. Any time spent prepping at home is well worth it.
Did a trip this summer and being more of a expedition type trip the meals where provided by Ceiba. All the meals were great but super involved.

Nothings wrong with renting a few things here and there but don't think you HAVE to do a painless private. I think in the long run its far more rewarding to do a true DIY trip. I have goolge doc spread sheets of how I organize a trip and if you are interested just pm me and I'll send them your way to give you an idea of how in my opinion its really not that hard to put together a grand trip.
 

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I did a 6 person trip. We had 4 boats, 1 14', 2 15" rafts and a 16 foot cat. 4 of the 6 rafters had never been done GC before and one couple had 15 and 19 trips between themselves for a total of 24. One boatman had 4 hours of rowing experience total. He was told to stay in the middle, follow and do what the lead boat did. We had one flip, the rookie in Lava. One bruised hip, on shore slip and fall. and other than that a great trip. We did all our own food and it was all easy to prepare and really good IMHO. Be very careful that you have people who are not clueless. The couple that had 24 trips between them were. We invited them because of all their experience (big mistake) and as it turned out they were really slow learners. What ever you decide to do have a great trip and stay safe. If you decide to do your own food. E-mail me and I'll send you a few recipes that take almost no cooler space or none for later on the trip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Awesome advice guys I really appreciate it. My wife will appreciate those last comments. She is a little nervous. Then again she did manage to wrap our Ducky on the San Juan last summer....:eek:


I fear the clueless as well. Both newbie or experienced. I am so scared from an experience last year that I am trying to be careful.
 

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I fear the clueless as well. Both newbie or experienced. I am so scared from an experience last year that I am trying to be careful.[/QUOTE]


Generally I find all round outdoor types who are adaptable are fine even with no river experience, it's those who can't take the initiative to do what needs doing that drive me nuts. I don't enjoy herding gerbils. Thankfully I'm looking at my regular gang, we've shared many river miles and work well together. We know when to give our people their space too, though as we have all shared at least 12 days on a single trip in the past I think we have that figured.

Extra competent oarspeople is a good problem to have because you just never know.
 

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I'll echo what others have said. On an 8 person trip you are always on, especially as the TL, you don't get much time to relax. Typically on a 16 person trip we break up into 4 groups of 4 and 1 of the 4 does not have duties each day. With 8 you're working each day. That said keeping 8 people on the same page is much easier than 16.

On our small group trip we had 4 married guys and 4 single guys. We all got along fine, but it was funny how the married guys were ready for bed by dark and wanted to be done working most nights and the single guys were content washing dishes in the dark. So just make sure you're on the same page.

You can make it work with 2 18's but 3 would be a lot nicer and gives you some piece of mind on the water. Also cooler space, cocktail hour with ice is dang nice. If you're competent rowers you should be fine. If you want to make it interesting take your 14' otherwise you can get away with a lot in an 18'.

If you rent anything, rent groovers, nothing more satisfying then handing those things off at the end of the trip and not having to deal. While it's fun to take your own boat ect, it's really nice to not have any clean up at the end. We usually do 1/2 rent 1/2 our own. Next time I get a trip, I think I'll do 100% rent. It just simplifies your life. I've only used Pro, but have heard mostly good things about all the others.

If you can help it, try not to do an exchange at phantom, requires more gear and the stress of getting a cremation camp and dealing with getting the people to the hike early in the morning.

Plan more days than you think for the top 1/2, you can make time easier after phantom. Those first days are slow, and I believe May can be a windy bugger. I've taken out at Diamond and Pearce. I liked Pearce better.

Go in with very loose plans of what you want to do, be very flexible. With all the other trips down there, your groups speed, jockeying for camps all change the trip each day.

This website has a lot of good info.
https://rrfw.org/RaftingGrandCanyon/Main_Page
 

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Small group trips are super fun. Even if you're renting gear and a food pack (which is a great deal of logistics that you'll be outsourcing), things are still so much easier to plan for and be flexible around with 8 people rather than 16. Quieter, easier to keep boats together, etc etc. I always shoot for small groups. But, maybe just because I don't want to be a TL for 16 people! Congrats. Have fun. Lots of good advice already stated.
 
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