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How long would it take to notify next of kin. My husband is on a Colorado River Grand Canyon rafting trip right now. Told me he wouldn’t be able to talk to me for 8 days because no reception in Canyon. I don’t even know what company he used. Motorized vs non-motorized raft.. just that it’s 8 days and 279 miles. Any thoughts? He flew out Thursday and started on river Friday.
Oh no. I’m sure you’re worried sick. I don’t know the answer but I’ll send out prayers and good vibes and keep you in my thoughts. 🙏
 

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I know for sure that a 37 foot motor rig has been down the left side at Highwater.
At high water and low water the Left goes. (Below 8,000 and above 18,000.) When a boat went left at 10K, flipped and got stuck, we spent an ugly night. (It was a two boat float.) There are seives back there, which present a very real drowning hazard.
 

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Uh eau what size boat?
oar rig or motor rig?
18 ft oar rig. 5 folks on a winter trip.

As many have noted, it can be a stressful rapid. Pax shared a (truly) funny joke as boatman started his run. Boatman was laughing too hard to pull well

i was waiting below and knew we had a problem when pax swam out from the Left.
 

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I would like to extend my condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. No one goes on a commercial Grand Trip with the expectation that it will end in tragedy.

I would like to expand on what Mayhem said as it does appear that there has been an increase in commercial motor incidents lately. In a well run organization that is managing a multi million dollar business someone should be tracking all safety incidents, notifying all stakeholders of trends, coordinating accident investigations, determining root causes, and developing and implementing solutions. Hopefully the park is doing this, but we don't seem to ever hear much after the fact except what comes out through the grapevine.

Whether the solution is training, experience, motivation, or equipment, it shouldn't be that hard to fix the problem, and it is critical for the commercial boaters that an excellent safety record be maintained. There is no question that the future will most likely mean less water and lower flows, and if the evidence is that large motor rigs cannot be safely run in those conditions, then something will have to be done.

Statistically there is a flash flood or two of side canyons of the Grand Canyon each year. Some have impacts on the river, some don't. With the exception of extremely large events, under natural conditions high water tends to regrade those flash floods and restore the system over a period of time. The present low flows will be mean that flash flood impacts will not be diminished over time as they used to be. In addition, as rain events are becoming more extreme, meaning impacts are more severe. As always, the river will do what it wants and the rest of us will have to live with the changes.
 

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Bedrock is scary. I didn't make the pull in my 14' raft. I immediately went to plan b,c,d,e and f. I made it through the first pourover upright, past the eddy on the left, huge highside on river left (no passenger) I was standing on the downhill oar tower. Came off the rock and had a feeling of "holy fuck I made it"...I didn't. Shot back across and flipped on the wall of bedrock. Scariest swim of my life. Went super deep with what felt like an undercut wall to my back. I literally expected to breathe water in. Shot out and was met immediately by my buddy's girfriend pulling me into their boat. In hindsight... other than pulling like my life depended on it, I should have just stepped out at the highside, pretty sure I could have.
 

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Bedrock is scary. I didn't make the pull in my 14' raft. I immediately went to plan b,c,d,e and f. I made it through the first pourover upright, past the eddy on the left, huge highside on river left (no passenger) I was standing on the downhill oar tower. Came off the rock and had a feeling of "holy fuck I made it"...I didn't. Shot back across and flipped on the wall of bedrock. Scariest swim of my life. Went super deep with what felt like an undercut wall to my back. I literally expected to breathe water in. Shot out and was met immediately by my buddy's girfriend pulling me into their boat. In hindsight... other than pulling like my life depended on it, I should have just stepped out at the highside, pretty sure I could have.
I have actually walked out onto the Bedrock rock after the left pour over in the little alcove on the right. I was in my kayak and I realized I was is a bad place and the water was surging a good 6-8' back there and as it surged up the wall I just pulled my skirt and was able to step out of the boat right on to the center rock and was dry. My boat flushed out and was delivered back to me at the bottom of the island. I considered this to a be a 'dry swim' and still drank my bootie beer. I had heard the stories there and didn't want to have one of my own!
 

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A recollection from my one left run, be it fuzzy with decades passing since. Obviously I didn't make the pull to the right, and ended up in a fierce eddy on the left side above the next drop. Took several laps and wasted a lot of energy before I was able to extract from the eddy and make the drop, good thing I was young and dumb and strong then. I had the benefit of watching the other guy who was stuck in the eddy with me (that was a pain in the ass having a second boat in there to fight with) make the drop and instantly high side on the bedrock. So with that tidbit of knowledge I knew to T-up to the bedrock immediately after the drop and had a non-consequential run that took about 20 minutes to complete.

If the passengers in that video knew the mindset of their guide on the Bedrock approach they would most certainly not be laughing it up! That looks like a very stressfull run in a big motor rig, too much shallow water takes away a lot of options.
 

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I think the writing is on the wall in terms of how things are and and will be changing down in the Grand Canyon. Gone are the days of what was once considered "high water"- flows upwards of 25k or so- it's over.

With Powell dropping out, consistently below average snow falls, and more and more pressure on what water there is, the Grand will have lower flows in the future.

Technical? not by mountain river class 4/5 standards but, yes, the Grand will become trickier due to less water moving through there and more moves to be made in the various rapids.

I wonder if commercial companies- both motor and oar operating-rafts and wooden dories, are looking at this and considering how they can run safe trips- perhaps lighter boats, fewer people per boat... Or are they going to just keep pushing it until there are more incidents- which will ultimately lead to bad PR and fewer clients anyways...?
 

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aren't commercial trip prices somewhat regulated by the NPS? we know how few of the private boaters who want to go get to go. it's gonna take a whole lot of crazy shit to go down before this thing becomes "accessible and affordable for the common man." probably about the point where it will be a mule supported duckie trip. til then.... boaters gonna boat.
 

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Dgoods, you are certainly right about the immediate future. Heck, there could be entire un-runnable summers ahead! Even at 4K during the base of the damn inspection in 2021 I heard it was nearly un-runnable. Would not take much less to turn it into a hiking trip.
 

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I think the writing is on the wall in terms of how things are and and will be changing down in the Grand Canyon. Gone are the days of what was once considered "high water"- flows upwards of 25k or so- it's over.

With Powell dropping out, consistently below average snow falls, and more and more pressure on what water there is, the Grand will have lower flows in the future.

Technical? not by mountain river class 4/5 standards but, yes, the Grand will become trickier due to less water moving through there and more moves to be made in the various rapids.

I wonder if commercial companies- both motor and oar operating-rafts and wooden dories, are looking at this and considering how they can run safe trips- perhaps lighter boats, fewer people per boat... Or are they going to just keep pushing it until there are more incidents- which will ultimately lead to bad PR and fewer clients anyways...?
At least as far as rowing trips goes...I think it will basically keep going as it has but they may struggle to do it in 14 days. I know the commercial trips I saw all said they were worried that they were gonna have long days when I was down there during the week they did 8000cfs flat for a USGS survey. The commercials use those same basic boats on rivers like the Middle Fork even when it gets low.

As we are all saying...its pretty obvious that the motor rig thing is gonna have to change. What that change actually is isn't clear...but if its running 3-4k, its gonna be pretty difficult to run a 38ft J-rig through the Canyon in a lot of spots. Shorter, narrower, lighter, lower drafting rigs will almost certainly be needed... and likely much more vigilant and skilled boat captains. Perhaps they just won't be able to run them as well. A lot up in the air with that. I hate to say it since I want everyone to be able to go, but perhaps screening customers more thoroughly and not bringing someone who might have health problems if they fall in the water is a valid argument as well.

I suppose even on buffer years where we DO get decent flows and the inflow into Lake Powell is high they will likely maintain these lower levels. I think it obvious that it will continue to trend towards less snowpack and such...but its inevitable that we'll have a high snowpack year occasionally.... but its gonna have be multiple years to really make any real lasting impact on reservoir levels.
 
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