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I've been laughing my way through the threads about people with no experience asking how to do a private trip and figured I'd ask a slightly different version of that question.

My wife pulled a June permit for next year and we're thinking about doing it as a one boat trip with just the two of us. Given the way the permit process works we're not really expecting one of us to be the winners again on a permit for a long time so we'd like to have the experience of running it solo for once. We definitely understand the "but why wouldn't you bring your friends and make it more fun?" argument, and if we win again we'll definitely bring friends, but just once while we're still relatively young, we'd like to do it just the two of us.

I feel pretty overly confident honestly as I'm a Swiftwater instructor, I've rowed the main Salmon, Westwater, Lodore Canyon, and we're on a friend's Grand trip next month. We're also both Wilderness First Responders.

So basically I want to know what others think I'm missing? Even if it's just little things like "take your boat to a lake with your pulleys and practice flipping it", what skills or pieces of gear or knowledge are we missing that we should be sure to do/have before a solo trip? Please shoot me down and tell me why this is a dumb idea haha.
 

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I think you will have your answer after your grand trip next month seeing the canyon with a solo trip on the mind. Totally doable but need to recognize the exposure of a one boat trip. Sounds like u should be set up for success with experience. Hope to hear the updated perspective after floating the ditch with what I assume is a group trip.
 

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I've been laughing my way through the threads about people with no experience asking how to do a private trip and figured I'd ask a slightly different version of that question.

My wife pulled a June permit for next year and we're thinking about doing it as a one boat trip with just the two of us. Given the way the permit process works we're not really expecting one of us to be the winners again on a permit for a long time so we'd like to have the experience of running it solo for once. We definitely understand the "but why wouldn't you bring your friends and make it more fun?" argument, and if we win again we'll definitely bring friends, but just once while we're still relatively young, we'd like to do it just the two of us.

I feel pretty overly confident honestly as I'm a Swiftwater instructor, I've rowed the main Salmon, Westwater, Lodore Canyon, and we're on a friend's Grand trip next month. We're also both Wilderness First Responders.

So basically I want to know what others think I'm missing? Even if it's just little things like "take your boat to a lake with your pulleys and practice flipping it", what skills or pieces of gear or knowledge are we missing that we should be sure to do/have before a solo trip? Please shoot me down and tell me why this is a dumb idea haha.

Getting a trip down the canyon before you try a solo is a good idea so you know what you're getting yourself into. Personally, I like having another boat in case shit happens. That being said, with 6 trips down there, I would consider doing a one boat trip. There are rapids down there that can be really gnarly depending on flow. It's big water that is pushy. If you flip, you could be swimming for a long time in really cold water before you self rescue.

All that being said, my first trip I ran into a couple that was doing a solo canoe trip that had started all the way above Green River, WY. They were doing fine at 35kcfs.
 

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You sound experienced...so you should be fine. Most of the rapids down there are class III/IV run it down the middle kind of affairs with a few big water class IV's that involve making some moves or carnage. Most have sneaks but a few don't and I've seen and heard of a lot of the bigger rapids flipping seasoned GC guides occasionaly so you'll definitely need to have the skills to self rescue in a flip situation. Even some of the of the GC Class 3 and 4's can catch you unawares. I think overall its a pretty safe river to run but has its risks.

All that said....its June...so even if you don't have another boat on the trip with you....you'll be seeing a bunch of other trips and my experience so far is that everyone will be willing to jump in and help with whatever you need whether its an emergency or you just feeling like hanging out with a group for a night. On my 2018 trip we were going down the river along side a single boat trip with two guys (and had one of the guys Daughter joining at Phantom) for the first week and we invited them to join us for dinner at Cremation while we both awaited new group mempers hiking in. They had been persisting on backpacker style food and we treated them to a Dutch Oven meal complete with appetizers and cake for dessert and it was much appreciated I think. Tons of commercials coming through and they will be especially helpful to a solo boat trip.

If it was a December trip I'd be a little more worried...but in June you won't struggle to find other humans to help you out. I do wish there was a way to not "waste" the user slots with a solo trip...but I can't begrudge you for wanting to do a trip like this. If I had my way, there should be a certain number of single boat slots available each year for people to apply for and that have stipulations like only allowing a few people on the trip (so no "single boat" with 8 people on it...keep it to 2 or 3) and being required to use smaller camps and/or sharing with a larger group. It feels like there is room within the use limits for this kind of trip and the impact a solo boat trip would have on the canyon is very minimal.
 

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Solo trips are fantastic! Haven't done the Ditch solo, but San Juan, Deso, Deschutes, John Day, etc.

As you well know, your safety and ultimately your fun factor, are dependent on good preparation (pre-solo trip to preview possible glitches, field test equipment), leaving an itinerary with a responsible friend and checking in at the end of the trip, having a "what if?" plan, should one or both take a swim, be aware of small injuries that can become large in the outdoors, be safe on land as well....the fact that you are asking the question bodes well, since you are open to advice and improving skills...best of luck, have a great trip!
 

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I've done a solo boat trip down the ditch. Nothing happened in terms of swims or flips so I can't give advice on what you'll need, other than the obvious. Yes, there are a lot of trips down there in June, but it is also easy to find yourself in a seam and not see that many trips, with the exception of a couple of days when the motor launches pass you.

Yes, most of it is class III/IV down the tongue rapids....but I've seen people flip in almost every named rapid down there so I wouldn't be dismissive of it. It is mostly drop/pool so recovery can be quick. Only of couple of rapids can have big penalties for failure (Hance, Crystal, Bedrock).

One key point to remember - most injuries happen off the water. I would spend a fair bit of time focusing on those "what if" scenarios as well.
 

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For peace of mind I would take a large raft or cat )16 feet plus) with plenty of gear hauling ability. A sat phone, and avoid activities on shore that have a potential to cause injury. Make sure your wife is as comfortable rowing as you are. Two big sand stakes and lines to tie off with. Have a fun safe trip.
 
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I've been laughing my way through the threads about people with no experience asking how to do a private trip and figured I'd ask a slightly different version of that question.

My wife pulled a June permit for next year and we're thinking about doing it as a one boat trip with just the two of us. Given the way the permit process works we're not really expecting one of us to be the winners again on a permit for a long time so we'd like to have the experience of running it solo for once. We definitely understand the "but why wouldn't you bring your friends and make it more fun?" argument, and if we win again we'll definitely bring friends, but just once while we're still relatively young, we'd like to do it just the two of us.

I feel pretty overly confident honestly as I'm a Swiftwater instructor, I've rowed the main Salmon, Westwater, Lodore Canyon, and we're on a friend's Grand trip next month. We're also both Wilderness First Responders.

So basically I want to know what others think I'm missing? Even if it's just little things like "take your boat to a lake with your pulleys and practice flipping it", what skills or pieces of gear or knowledge are we missing that we should be sure to do/have before a solo trip? Please shoot me down and tell me why this is a dumb idea haha.
Skill, knowledge, experience, training, bottle's JD and a good woman. (Skill) I can dance this boat down the river in all situations. (Knowledge) I know there is a big sleeper boulder at the end of the this huge wave train. (Experience) I'm going to maneuver just to the left of that big sleeper boulder, because last time it ate my lunch. (Training) listen up, start pulling to the left early before you reach that big sleeper boulder because once your in the funnel the current is to fast to avoid the carnage. (Good woman) honey we're home what's for dinner, when you have time a big glass of JD on the rocks sounds great and after you do the dishes, one of your special massages sounds great too, while I dream about the new oars for our boat....All joking aside, your going to have a great time, enjoy it. Sounds like a great time to me. One skill I never acquire was how not to piss my wive's off. The trip with your friends next month sound just like the ticket to clear up the unknowns. I love the story about Glenn and Bessie Hyde.
 

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I could be way wrong, but my old memory says I vagly remember reading somewhere in the rules & regs that you're only allowed 1 trip per year be it commercial and or private or a combo. So your trip next month may be an issue for your June 2021 permit. Double check. Otherwise be safe and have fun!!
 

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I could be way wrong, but my old memory says I vagly remember reading somewhere in the rules & regs that you're only allowed 1 trip per year be it commercial and or private or a combo. So your trip next month may be an issue for your June 2021 permit. Double check. Otherwise be safe and have fun!!
It is one trip per calendar year. So you can go in Dec and again in Jan.
 

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Seems like you have sufficient experience and are thoughtful enough to make this a good idea. My wife and I just came off a 5-day solo trip on the Rogue and we would do it again for sure. Absolutely wonderful. 15-20 days in GC? Sounds magical. It was our first multi-day solo trip so we had to think through a few things beforehand - gear, food, safety, etc. - but in hindsight it was the social dynamic that surprised me and I will think more about in the future.

It makes sense from a safety perspective to hope that you can count on other trips to help if you get into some trouble, but it had not occurred to me that our one boat trip would be just as well-suited or even more well-suited to be of assistance. When you’re not worried about the multi-boat group dynamics of your own trip, you’re more agile and available to others. We spent an entire day helping a large, inexperienced group work through a challenging section of river, which forced us to alter our itinerary a bit, but really added a lot of social flavor to our trip.

Functionally, a group trip affords a lot of sharing of gear and work, but of course it’s all you every day when solo. We kept meals simple with backpacker meals for dinner and no other cooking beyond boiling water. Easy kitchen set up. Easy break down. Minimal to no dishes to clean. That left plenty of extra cooler space for spirits and also a lot more time for hiking and general leisure. So I would just recommend thinking through how a group trip spreads the gear-food-activity load and then plan/pack accordingly.

Hope it all comes together for you and you have a great trip.
 

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Sounds like a swell idea. As mentioned above, you are likely to find a hand if needed in June. That being said, you'll want to manage your weight and keep in mind that 2 people righting a heavy boat that found itself wrong side up can be damn near impossible, even with a last resort 9 to 1 system. Might have to leave a few beers behind in exchange for scotch and count out the heavy meals. It could be a relatively long wait for help if you wind up between other trips. And with that being said, I think it's an awesome idea and you and the wife should totally pursue it.
 

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My brother did a solo trip in October about 5 years ago and had a friend until phantom and my 75-year-old mother walked in and they went all the way to Pearce. They were in an 18 foot bucket boat and were not seeing many people and ran lava solo. They even spent Halloween at the pumpkin! The great thing about the upper part of the river is it’s forgiving and you can pile a whole lot of shit on and by the time you get to the meat you can dial it in and strap it down!🌊

go for it have fun!
 

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We've done couple solo boat winter trips and have another planned in January. For a whole list of reasons, they've become our favorite and most memorable. My only flip was in Tanner (class 4) due to inattention and poor visibility, but we were able to right the raft, a 16' self bailer, using a rope comealong. I also think I could drop the frame upsidedown in shallow water and rerig if necessary. One good safety precaution, we think, is a small overnight survival kit clipped to your pfd in case of separation from the boat.
 

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I did this my first trip but I went in Dec and with a person that I had never met until we got to Flagstaff. My advice. There are a couple of places that you should link up with another trip just to run though the rapids. Crystal and lava. People are pretty friendly down there and some extra safety is not a bad ideas. I’m sure it will be crowded enough in June and people will oblige.
 

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Also, if you do flip, and you’re alone you could get separated from your boat so keep your communication device in your PFD. We bring an in reach when we go. Although in June I’m sure someone would come along sooner or later.
 

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Although you may have a great time, you will elminate the possibility of rafting the Grand Canyon for 14 -28 other people. Permits are hard to get and not filling a permit means other people lose.
 

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Although you may have a great time, you will elminate the possibility of rafting the Grand Canyon for 14 -28 other people. Permits are hard to get and not filling a permit means other people lose.
It's an 8 person permit. Best case we're monopolizing 6 extra spots. I'm not worried but I'll try be better next time I win.
 
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