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So I have to ask, because I really don't know. I've been down Browns a handful of times and feel comfortable with the lines. Yesterday, was running Browns in my raft for the first time with me at the helm. As I entered Pin Ball, I noted 4 commercial boats approx. 200 yards away approaching. I feel like I'm pretty considerate of those around me so I decided I would be through the rapid and out of their way by the time they entered. I know the commercial guides are out there trying to make a living and I'm just takin it easy on a day off from work trip, so I don't mind letting them by with a peacful "hello".
I entered Pin Ball and was feeling pretty good with my technical skills at the oars when I feel a huge bump to the back of my boat, followed by "sorry man......everyone back stroke"...Surprised they had come up on me so quickly and closed the distance. Those of you that have run Pin Ball know that at 648 cfs there is but one line. This didn't bother me to much, I actually felt kinda bad for being in their way, but there was no place for me to eddy out or go. So, I tried to speed things up....this didn't work so well. Then a female guide and her clients came at us stating to her client "Raming speed people"...hit my boat, sent us into a binding rock and yelled for me to pull my oars up so her client and her could get by and not to hurt them with my oars. I looked at her and said, you literally have me against the wall and I can't take my oars up. 4 more boats come into the tangle and they are having a blast bumping boats and stuff but are now yelling in aggravation at me to pull my oars in or up or get them out the water. This angered me so I carefully came back into the main flow or "line" and stuck my oar into their bow and said respectfully "guys, give me a second and I'll get out of your way and let you by at the next opportunity". I did and they went on their way. The rest of the day, I tried hard to yeild to this company and their clients but we played leap frog several times and it seemed like every other rapid or so either because they stopped for lunch, snack or jump rock.......I couldn't get away from them.
1. When I'm on the river, I'm out there for a peacful time with a few beers and friends, so I typically will yeild to other boaters such as ones with kids or paying clients. So, I don't mind yeilding.
2. I'm curious, is this typical of commercial trips and river courtesy? or is it just a fact of life.
3. Call me crazy, but if I was a guide with clients and came up on a large raft with big oars slinging around I would back off for the safety of my clients until I could pass safely around the oars in a FLAT section of the river.
Truth of the matter is, I'm not sure if this situation was unusual behavior or if its the way things are.
Not mad...just curious.
 

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Poor form on their part. I would not have been so polite. In my experience the firts person in the rapid has right of way. If you want to pass you should ask politely and make it happen where it is convenient for everyone. If you have time to stop and jump/swim/eat you aren't rushed enough to pass in a rapid.
 

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Yup, poor form and dangerous as well

That kind of stuff happens on lots of high-use rivers and seemingly on Brown's in particular. There are the minority of guides out there that think they're God's gift to the riparian world and who can be really rude and make the whole bunch look bad. I think the majority are more considerate, professional, and mellow. I was getting a great surf at Canyon Doors in my oar rig one day and had a commercial paddle raft run right up on top of me at speed. Other times I've had guides be very cooperative and pass or be passed when the need arose, though I'm usually the one letting them by. Its just like anywhere, most folks in the group are fine, a few make them all look bad.

I'll take you at your word about the incident. Calling for ramming speed in the middle of a rapid with another boater that's not part of their group was rude & brought on an extra and easily avoidable element of risk to you and their clients due to the possibility of a pin or you smacking someone in the face with your oar. Its always seemed to me that you're supposed to give other boaters about 50' separation or more in a rapid, not try to run them over and play bumper boats in a confined space. Yeah, it was only 650cfs but people drown in less. I suggest you consider reporting the incident to the raft company's management, with the date and time of the trip, a description of the problem guide(s), and any other info you can give them to identify who was being inconsiderate and dangerous.

If you have time to stop and jump/swim/eat you aren't rushed enough to pass in a rapid.
definitely true. just because the water's down and they're getting bored is no excuse for that kind of guiding.

-AH
 

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At least you were in a raft, I have literally been run down by commercial rubber in my kayak...I have seen rafts go right over the top of an upside down boater...unfortunately I think it's just the nature of the beast when your talking about high traffic times in Browns. I have come to the decision that I will only float it at high water, and/or late afternoon.

As Andy said, "I think the majority are more considerate, professional, and mellow."
- but when you get that many people boating the same stretch every day, someone is bound to be an asshole.
 

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I agree with Andy on that not all are that inconsiderate, but there are such a large number of boats and guides out there that there are bound to be some rude ones.

Having used to guide on the Ark, specifically Browns, I know some companies and their guides have no consideration for any other boaters, be they private rafters, kayakers, or boats from another company. If they want to get down, they will pass you no matter what.

Shame you had to experience that group of boaters, hope your next trip is carefree
 

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I agree with the others, I think you probably ran across the 20% group of the 80-20 rule. I spent a good amount of my rafting time this year on Brown's, and never had that kind of experience, and I came across quite a few commercials in the trips I had this summer. In all cases, they were quite the opposite. They usually backed off if I was going into a rapid ahead of them, sped up if they were going first, or doing whatever was necessary to maintain some sort of spacing. There were also times when some realized I was a private boater and on my own (just one boat with some friends - not by myself) and they not only made sure we all had space, but they also made sure I was OK after getting through something.

I think the majority of the experienced guides and the more reputable companies have been around enough to be sensible. You may have come across some rookies that were trying to learn how to entertain their customers at lower levels when the splash factor isn't as high. I agree that you should report it to the company. They'll either educate those guides or they won't be baxt next year would be my guess.
 

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Unfortunately, common courtesy has become less common.
 

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Granted, during the peak summer season, Brown's is a commercial rafting highway and private boaters are best to let traffic pass. Essentially, the commercial companies are in a rush to get their morning trips from A to B and then return with a fresh second trip of paying customers. On the busy days it is a continous traffic jam during specific hours and is not particularly condusive to the casual private boater being able to enjoy the beauty and pleaure of the canyon as much. Therefore, it is wise to pick your days and launch times to avoid those crowded times.

That said, though, doesn't it bring to question what discourteous guides are effectively teaching the guests to our valley, ... "That it is acceptable and rewarding to be jerks in the wilderness"?

Instead, shouldn't industry representatives be educating their guests about respect of other users (rafters, kayakers, fisherman, landowners), safe river navigation, and preservation and respectful enjoyment of the prestine environment? It is still fun while achieving it in a respectful pursuit, isn't it?

It seems there is a often not enough education to guest occuring and it tends toward a herding of naive meat through with some disregard for life and nature. With that in mind, employers should probably be informed of any guides behaving disrespectfully, and private boaters may want to enjoy Brown's at hours of less congestion.
 

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Commercial rafts (all boaters for that matter) are just another natural river hazard to be considered when picking your line. They are just more dynamic than rocks.

Curious what company it was.
 

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If you were on the Grand or the Middle Fork, or some other remote river that gets commercially rafted, I think you would have some justification for getting irritated. But complaining about commercial trips (and/or other river users) bad behavior on browns is like complaining about people's bad driving during Denver rush hour. Its just what happens when there is a higher volume of people in a concentrated area, people bump into each other. Not condoning their behavior or trying to take a position on who is right/wrong, just saying that perhaps if you are going to be on the busiest section of river in the country, you should adjust your expectations.
 

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Remember that not all guides are that skilled and they are basically trying to entertain there folks. Hence, the ramming speed comment. I wouldn't take it to heart. I am curious how they closed the gap so fast from Canyon Doors to Pinball so quikly. This time of year alot fo the companies are releasing there rookie guides and they have a class 5 mouth/ego with class 2 skills. Good Luck and be glad you weren't in a kayak.
 

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A few notes on raft dynamics... not defending anyone, just a few notes.

8 or 10 ppl in a raft is alot heavier than 1,2 or 3 ppl in a raft, and Will float faster.

Paddle rafts are typically paddling forward, oar rigs do a lot of back peddling to maneuver, which is slower.

Once in pinball, faster rafts will continue to be faster and breaking options are limited. Also slower rafts will continue to be slower and giddy-up options are limited.

A lot of new guides on browns still haven't figured out low water lines. A few older ones never will.

A lot of ppl just don't look at the world around them, at least not necessarily 200 yards worth.
 

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This is why I refuse to run Brown's except at uber high water, super early or late evening.

I was with a couple friends last Saturday in the Gorge and had a similar bunch of commercial jackassery take place.

We had just dropped Sunshine and were sitting in the eddy on river right when whistles start blowing above us. I ferry out and see nothing but orange helmets coming down. My partner peels out chasing a swimmer and gets the custy in the eddy while my other friends police up a paddle or two for them.

Next thing we know a guide is telling his customers to take forward strokes in the eddy and is literally running us over at the top of the eddy. He's laughing about it and making smart assed comments to his customers about kayakers.

The guy I was with is an older salt and told the guide that if he didn't back off he would pull his knife and blow their tube. At that point they conclude they aren't having fun anymore and go on their way.

Funny thing is I have two of their paddles that I've policed up along the river this year that I've been meaning to drop off to this outfit next time I'm in the neighborhood. My sense of urgency to get that done just went to zero.

Way to go Echo Canyon.
 

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Summit Surfer,
I am sorry you had to deal with that situation and I agree that most of the guides out there would not do that sort of thing. I feel that there were likely several factors involved.

First it is likely that you had a several rookies in the pod behind you. Like noted before rookies right now think they are awesome because they can barely make it through pinball but they deffinately cannot look ahead see a slower boat and catch slack water or an eddy to create space. However each trip should have senior guides in the front and the back of the trip who should be able to adjust thier speed/ catch an eddy and communicate that to the rest of the trip.

Second the comments UserName made are 100% accurate about speed. After you looked back and started the rapid it is likely that you pulled on the oars a fair ammount to make your moves meanwhile the standard paddle line to run pinball sounds like this Forward!...Stop. Forward (etc). Like I said before senior guides can and should catch slack water or eddies to create space but if you have more than five boats on a trip the ammount of space in pinball is limited and the intertia created by the number of boats (you also have to include the company that may be right behind the ones that passed you) can make slow down or stop near impossible.

So in short I would say it is about 40% "the way things are" because of rookies, the number of boats and the differences in speed. The other 60% is poor form. Even though a collision happened the guides should have slowed down, changed angles, directed thier crews to duck etc to make the bumper boat situation less dangerous. And most importantly they could have been courteous or at least not dicks.
 

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Downstream crafts ALWAYS have the right of way. I don't care if you are in a tube or floating on a beer cooler! Heavier, commercial, private it DOES NOT MATTER! Now, that being said, I usually hang out and let the commercial boats float past me. I wave and smile. I'm just happy to be on the river. I've been run over by a commercial raft in my kayak on Browns more than a few times, and that is no fun. I give them plenty of space, but sometimes they just can't control their boats. This is the real issue. If they cannot control their boats, they should not have customers on the river. Accidents happen, but on Brown's that seems to be the norm. I am actually pretty sick of it. We're very careful to stay out of their way and they usually make no effort to avoid us. Sooner or later someone is going to get hurt and their going to sue the guide. Maybe that will make them think about what they are doing. I hate lawsuits, but this might be the only thing that makes them stop and think about what they are doing. They don't own the river!
Also, if I am eating lunch with my group, who do they think they are taking over the beach and telling us we have to leave. PUBLIC PROPERTY!
Sorry if I offended any guides. This is just my observation on Browns, not a slam on guides in general. I know most of you are cool, I just don't see that on Browns much.
 

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That's total BS, bad behavior is not justified by excuses. Just learn from it (avoid them like tubers or the plague) and contact the company's owner. Especially if it is rookie guides messing up, they need to know who is not making the cut. Maybe they won't care, but all you can do is notify. Nice job with the facts only.
 

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I think the problem is rooted in New Zealand, at least that is where I've heard this game comes from. If a kayaker gets run over by a raft they owe a 12 pack, kind of like swimmer beer.

Also, downstream craft doesn't have right of way in my mind, the craft that is least maneuverable, in this case the oar rig, has the right of way. It's been hit several times but it sounds like you found some rookies. This is not standard practice on the Ark, even in Browns. The commercials should have better control of their boats in that situation. As far as calling them out by name on here, it's not necessary, but it may not hurt to call the company and just give them a heads up of what happened.

Back to bashing commercial rafting...if it was the Poudre it would be standard practice and you would have had three bus drivers draping ropes over your boat.
 

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I'd go farther. If you had a paddle raft and declared ramming speed on a commercial trip, they'd tell the sheriff. I think you should do the same.
 
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