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Discussion Starter #1
Just got offered a trip in the Grand putting in on the 16th of Jan. Right off, I am thinking absolutely, but then a little hesitation to miss prime ski season and maybe freeze my ass off. I have always dreamed and drooled of a Grand trip, just never envisioned a winter trip. Any thoughts? I know it can snow then, I've been on the south rim in April during snow, but what are 'typical' Jan. temps.

Gotta decide very soon, any beta on the winter Grand experience appreciated.
 

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We're launching January 9th and couldn't be more excited. That's not peak ski season and you'll still have 3 good months to ski after you get back.

24 nights, fires every night, no commercial trips or motorized boats. Come on, that's a no brainer!:twisted:
 

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The Grand!

good for you august -

funny, cause i just received a call from a buddy of mine, inviting me to a trip on jan 26....definately prime ski season and maybe colder than early jan...

anyways, my 2 is that i had another offer for a private trip a few years back, and declined, because of lack of vacation, and i've been kicking myself ever since.

a private trip is pretty rare, eh? anyways, i'm going to go and can't wait to leave the world behind.

S
 

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Discussion Starter #6
That seems to be the consensus. I just talked with a friend who has done a Nov./Dec. trip and a Sept. trip. Supposedly the Sept. date is ideal conditions, yet he enjoyed the Nov./Dec. much more because of the quite. He did however say not to be fooled- it was cold. Typically they were in the sun for 2 to 3 hours max per day. It didn't snow on them, but some cold rain for a few days in a row. Said that the weather in Sept. was ideal but they were far from alone down there.

I had another realization today, I was planning on spending two weeks north of the artic circle on a river this summer. The trip fell through for unexpected reasons, but I didn't even bat an eye at the idea of that cold, and I'm sure it would have been colder then this trip.

Thanks for the input. August
 

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Even if there is snow on the rim, it is unlikely that there will be snow in the Canyon itself. Remember, you will be 3000 feet below the rim. As someone pointed out, the lack of commercial and motorized trips will make it much more pleasant.

Having just completed a Canyon trip in august, I can safely say that it is more than worth it and that if you have any chance you should take it. Go for it!
 

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Last time I did it was in late August and September: couldn't sleep for the heat.

So give it a go, for sure. Just pack your arctic gear. If you're running a small boat, a 2-piece drysuit would be nice, with neoprene hood and some serious foot layers. Fingerless gloves are good for rigging. Lots of fleecy stuff for camp. (When it's rude cold, for a lux bedtime, pour warm– not hot— water in a non-leaky drybag and kip in. Once you're toasty, set it outside.)

I've not done the Grand in Jan. but have done early (melting ice) and late season sampling in alpine lakes, when the water's right on the freezing point. You need to think about what you do. Hypothermia's a bugger. When the sun is off the water, pick the dry lines. A flip isn't quite as casual at that point.

Good book: DOWNCANYON by Ann Zwinger, U. Arizona Press, 1995. She spent quite a bit of time in the Canyon in winter. It's not a boat guide but more natural history and atmosphere.

I envy you, mate—
Chip
 

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Another heat scam–

Take space blankets (the heavy duty kind with grommets) and screen them up behind your river chairs. Good way to get really warm with a reasonable size fire.

yrs, Chip
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I am really getting psyched for this trip. Thanks for any of the cold weather river trip tips -I like the space blanket- I'll be fairly snug in my kayak, but of course there will be others on rafts who may have a harder time staying warm.

thanks again-

August
 

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Hey August, you might some more winter tips at:

Main Page - Rafting Grand Canyon

where you can do a search on topics like "winter". Just a thought.

Feel free to join the yahoogroups [email protected] if you have any questions for a bunch of GC rafting folks, or give me a ring/e-mail.

While rafting in the winter in GC is not for most, it is for some, and you never know until you try. Yours, tom

Tom Martin, Co-Director
River Runners For Wilderness
Author, Day Hikes From the River and Guide to the Colorado River in Grand Canyon, with Duwain Whitis
PO Box 30821, Flagstaff, AZ 86003
928-556-0742 FLG, 928-638-4053 Grand Canyon [email protected] [email protected]
www.RRFW.org
 

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Dry Suit

Get a dry suit and take a spare top. I went for 27 days in November 2004. I was in dry top and dry pants and I got cold a lot. You can't predict what your weather will be...anything is possible. It was tolerable but I would have enjoyed the cold days if I had been completely dry. Plan contingency for a gasket failure (happened to me). I would also take a large 4 season tent. Several days in a row of cold rain and snow on the rim with almost no sun can take its toll. Another good way to go is take a small 3 season tent and a canopy that can be set up over it in bad weather. With little sun in the inner gorge it is very hard to get wet gear dried out. The only sun time you get is in the middle of the day while all your stuff is packed in a (wet) dry bag. At night it frosts and even if stuff is laid out it is wet again! Often no choice but to put on wet gear in the dark or rain and start paddling! Only way to get and stay warm other than the fire. Still very worthwhile trip and I had a very good time kayaking the whole 302 miles Lee's to South Cove.
On our trip we never saw another boating group and only a few hikers. We could have driftwood fires and it was nice and quiet! Personalities in the group become a very significant positive or negative factor on a long trip on the Grand. Once you are in...you are in!

Enjoy

-Dave
 

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Dry out, warm up—

The thermodynamics of a winter Grand trip can be difficult, but there are some tricks.

An on-the-water tactic, perhaps obvious, is to paddle hard and pull ahead, then paddle upstream 'til the group catches up.

Since the nightly fire is a necessity on winter trips, it might be good to figure out how to use the heat in various ways.

*Use oarshafts, etc. to rig up drying racks, behind the ring of chairs, backed with a screen of space blankets (the reinforced, grommeted kind), canted in at the top. Leave the bottoms loose (maybe weighted) so they give way to the gusts, rather than blow over. That way the radiant heat isn't just bleeding off into the dark. A couple hours of campfire heat will dry out most synthetics, if you turn them over and inside-out. (Never dry out gear close to the fire. Lots of sad stories about that.)

*Look for fleece jackets with inside pockets for drying gloves, etc. with body heat in the evening. If you've got a good synthetic sleeping bag, you can dry stuff out while you sleep, with body heat.

*Assuming you've got rafts or cats with deck space, use a flattish mesh bag to dry out stuff on the calm stretches, midday, stretched over a black or dark-green surface. Keep a drybag handy and stash the clothes before each rapid, then take them out again. Turn up and down, inside-out. Use every bit of sunlight. Surprising how well this works. The mesh bag provides a boundary layer of still air and in direct sun the temp right above a dark surface can be 90°, when the ambient air temps are near freezing.

Have a good one. If you figure out tricks of your own, pass 'em on—

yrs, Chip
 

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Small heated rocks (fist or palm sized) can be put in gloves, shoes, booties or socks to dry them out. If they are too hot to hold they may burn ( not likely if it is wet) but that is kind of the rule of thumb. If you can hold them then they are safe enough to use on clothes. A larger heated rock can be carried into a tent to lay almost dry things on and to heat the tent. Use common sense on the temp so you don't melt your shelter.
 

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Hi,

One of the things we're trying to encourage is the use of propane campfire/heater rigs, rather than depending on driftwood, which is going to get scarcer and scarcer over time. There already are concerns about incidents last season with people cutting trees in the vicinity of campsites.

GCPBA sells one such unit in its store that we've tested (shameless plug -- see link below). But there are a number of units that will do the job. They are not mandatory, but highly recommended, so as to avoid a situation where the Park requires them.

The Park recommends that if you're going to have real fires, take your own wood, collect it during the day and don't wait until getting to camp, and don't take any of the historic wood above the traditional high water mark.

FWIW.

Rich Phillips
VP, GCPBA
gcpba.org
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gcpba/messages
 

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Discussion Starter #19
EZ fire-

Rich-
I have got the outline of the trip squared away and now I am trying to nail down all the little details. Thanks for the propane fire idea, I think we will get one of these. Couple questions: could you place this in your fire pan and on the nights you have plenty of wood use it as a fire starter? or is that just asking for a clogged jet? I read your first review of using it at the boat house, which sounded good, but have you taken one on a long trip yet? How did it hold up? Are they tough enough for river travel for 20 days?

Also, I searched the gcpba website for winter boating tips, and all I got was people wanting a permit/trip space. What am I missing here?

Thanks again,

August
 

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Hi August,

I just spent some time with Park Service folks who used one of these propane fires last winter. They felt the product was good, but used more fuel than our tests indicated. Couldn't get a quantification from them, so maybe add a 50% margin???

The model CCPBA tested could sit in a standard firepan, but you wouldn't want to use it as a fire-starter. It would clog with ash pretty quickly.

Our web site is under review right now for some changes. Try posting on http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gcpba/messages for the wit and wisdom of about 1,800 folks interested in GC boating -- many of them who have done winter trips.

Hope this helps.

Rich Phillips
VP, GCPBA
gcpba.org
 
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