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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yet another newbie soliciting advice (sorry):

Half-assed-until-now rower and serious GC hiker, here. Looking for some guidance on how to get into running lottery rivers. I'll happily run low-use times (mostly Rogue) or non-permit stuff solo or with my wife, but always had land-based goals and never really bothered going after the rare permits. I don’t fully understand the social aspect of river-running in an increasingly competitive environment. Any advice on how to break into a permit alliance? I am never going to get anywhere in the lotteries applying in isolation, and I would feel too guilty not sharing any miracle permit anyway.

Would saving for a massive gear raft/ trailer and offering to support kayak trips be a good strategy to take for GC and Middle Fork especially? Would my knowledge of GC backcountry and ability to lead off-trail loop hikes be of some value to the right group down there? What skills/ equipment/ services are most valuable to established groups? Do I just need to get lucky once, and then invite a bunch of people?

Not expecting to get on a coveted trip right away; I haven't earned it. More looking for long-term advice on how to become more useful in the long run and ingratiate myself to the right folks. I’ve closely watched GC statistics over the past 15 years, and the semi-recent increase in winter competition has got me scared.

Truly sorry to be another name in the hat of all these lotteries. If I’m going to add to the competition, I at least want to contribute and not be a jerk about it.

Thanks a ton everyone.
 

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Other than the grand the rest are supposed to be true lotteries. Meaning if you put your name in the hat you have the same chance as the next name. The best bet is knowing many more people with their name in the same hat that are wiling to share if they get lucky.
 

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Having a lot to offer is definitely a plus. Skills, equipment, experience, etc. I'm only in my fourth year of rafting and I've only won one permit in a lottery, but I've managed to get on a lot of good permitted rivers in that time. Yampa, Lodore, Middle Fork, San Juan, Deso, Salt, etc. Some have been from getting my very small group of close friends to put in and they won. Others from picking up cancellations. And others from getting invited by people I hadn't even met but we had developed a rapport just from interacting online.

I run a forum kind of like Mountain Buzz but focused on hiking and backpacking. One of the big differences between the two sites is that the main focus of my site is on posting photos and trip reports. There's a bit of that here, but usually it's just a quick report of conditions or something and a lot more discussion about gear and other things related to rivers. With more in-depth reports and photos, you really get to know people a lot better, IMO. I'm not trying to bag on the Buzz here, because I've learned an insane amount from this site, but that aspect is lacking. I think it makes it a lot harder to connect with the people that would be a good fit for you and your group and vice versa. Granted, hiking might be easier for taking photos and writing reports, but I still post all of my rafting reports on my site and it has resulted in being invited on some awesome trips. And I felt great going with those people because they'd posted reports as well, and I was able to look at them and think 'those guys seem cool, I'd like to get on a river with them'. You still get that to an extent without reports and photos, just not as much.

It hasn't always worked out great. I have some horror stories from people I've met up with for backpacking trips that totally oversold their skills and just weren't great to be around, but generally it's been great and some of my best friendships have been made that way. I guess I'm kind of a hypocrite saying we should all post trip reports and get to know each other better when I don't post mine here, but the old clunky software and corporate ownership on this site makes it a pain in the ass. I'd cross-post my rafting reports here but I'm not sure how the admins would feel about that.

Last thing, when you do get your hands on a permit, I think it's important to invite people and try to expand your circle. It's a little scary because you don't really know what you're going to get sometimes, but it seems more and more like that's going to the the future of getting on the hard-to-get permitted rivers. At the rate applications keep going up, I'll be shocked if I ever win another permit in a lottery. Oh, and when you do get an invite, be the best damn person they've ever invited. Offer to do anything and everything. Offer to bring any and every piece of gear. Have an awesome attitude. Bring the TL a nice bottle of booze (or something) as a token of your appreciation. Be the person that people want to have on every trip. Your circle or 'alliance' will just grow with every opportunity.
 

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I think there are four or five key things to remember if you want to get into the rafting "inner circle".
1. Don't be "that" guy. If / when you get on a trip, try exceptionally hard to be an asset to the trip. Offer to do more than your share. Learn all you can about the river and river ethics. Don't cause problems or argue about how the "correct" way to start a fire. Don't be an ugly drunk. Don't take risks that others have to pay for. Don't steal someones camp chair. Don't set your tent up while the boats are being unloaded.

2. Invest in some group gear. I'm sure I've gotten invited on several permits because I can fill in gear needs. Someone has to carry the groover

3. Be reliable. Don't say you want to go then bail. I very seldom re-invite someone who bails on a trip unless it's a damn good excuse.

4. Pay back anyone who invites you on a trip

5. Be friendly, I'm in several groups where I met the people on the river and that's our only connection. Start conversations with strangers
 

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Really hard to get into a circle of strangers.


If you want to be a multiday boater, you need to be a boater. It also helps to be an extrovert.



Meet people on the non-permitted day runs.



Last thing, when you do get your hands on a permit, I think it's important to invite people and try to expand your circle. It's a little scary because you don't really know what you're going to get sometimes, but it seems more and more like that's going to the the future of getting on the hard-to-get permitted rivers. At the rate applications keep going up, I'll be shocked if I ever win another permit in a lottery. Oh, and when you do get an invite, be the best damn person they've ever invited. Offer to do anything and everything. Offer to bring any and every piece of gear. Have an awesome attitude. Bring the TL a nice bottle of booze (or something) as a token of your appreciation. Be the person that people want to have on every trip. Your circle or 'alliance' will just grow with every opportunity.
^^^^
 

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My advice is get out and boat with other people. Build you river family and plan trips together. Getting on trips with strangers can be fun but can also turn into a trip from hell.

Get out and meet people and build relationships. Then you can plan with them in the off season on which permits you want to go for.
 

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The first rule of all secret societies is to never speak of said secret society..
 

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JEFFRO... I just sent you my measurements and a photo in a PM. I'm definitely single and what you want to include in your crew. I know I look a TON like Rosamund Pike, that is at least what I hear all the time (eye roll). Anyway, what river are we running?
 

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Also, seek out local paddling clubs, folks that you can meet with every month to plan trips. You'll be surprised how many boaters exist in the community. I've had folks stop in the street as I wash or rig a raft in my driveway. I invite them to our monthly Adobe Whitewater Club meetings https://www.facebook.com/AWCNM/ and help them integrate with others.
 

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Learn to cook, become a very skilled dishwasher, and buy a large Groover. Those steps are likely to get you invited on trips.

And be a Great shipmate!!! Always help with chores, never sit while others are unloading, don't be the last down for Breakfast. And if the shuttle vehicle has a clutch, learn to drive it.

And don't bitch and argue over a few $$$.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks

Thanks a lot for your thoughts; I'm kinda surprised by the depth of responses here and the willingness to help a guy out. Much appreciated.

Definitely not cute, single, or a girl. Not much I can do about that, but plenty of actionable suggestions here that I will take to heart.

It seems like those that truly make it a priority are still able to get on their chosen water somehow, which is a relief. Was beginning to think I should expect to die before floating a high Yampa.

Hope to see you all out there, and thanks again.
 
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