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Pros and Cons of Guided Canoe Trips

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No thanks to guided trips anywhere.

The only guides I ever followed were, first, in 1967, my early teens on Mt. Rainier for a week of climbing instruction, one of whom, a guest guide, was Dick Emerson from the 1963 American Everest Expedition. Great guy from whom I learned the 'guide step, or rest step' which allows one to climb at a slow but steady pace at altitude for hours at a time. And, secondly, with several Swiss guides at the Rosenlaui School of Mountaineering in Meiringen, Switzerland. These were great guys who took time to teach rather than just drag clients up a particular mountain which is what one usually sees, particularly in the French Alps among the Chamonix guides!

Besides, I'm way too cheap to pay those big bucks for a trip. Much rather go on the cheap, and be self reliant and in good company, mine!
 
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Before you all totally poo-poo the cost of the trip, realize that fly-ins up north are incredibly expensive--thousands of dollars. Pitt is well aware of that. Red Feather (e.g.) offers two week Nahanni trips for $9K. I'm assuming Pitt is headed a lot farther out, and for 50% longer. Airplanes and Avgas are expensive up there (as well as everything else). I commonly budget $4K (US) just for airplane rides in Alaska or Canada.

Pitt, we'd love to know where you're thinking of going!

Edit: I saw that you're not planning on going, but the above still applies. I am curious about where that trip is headed, though (without you).
 
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I agree Mason, a finer breakdown of costs would be more helpful. And keeping in mind the escalating costs of everything the further (remote) north one travels. At the end of the day, "value" can be a personal thing. Some are willing to open their wallets to broaden their experiences, others are not. And then there's hubris thrown into both camps.
I just checked the costs of total outfitting here in Ontario, all-in, canoe(s), gear, and food. $120pp/day. Guide is $275/day.
Some would no doubt jump on that while others would baulk.
Here's another thread start for you Glenn:
What is your approx. total investment in tripping canoe(s)&gear and how has that worked out on a per trip basis so far?
part deux...can you put a price on ownership?
 
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I saw that you're not planning on going, but the above still applies. I am curious about where that trip is headed, though (without you).
They will be 24 days on the Horton River, which ends on the Arctic coast, west of Paulatuk. Flights are long. The company says it normally pays their guides $1,500-$2,500 CAN each for a ten-day trip, depending on experience. This trip will have two guides.

In 1999, Kathleen and I paddled alone for 30 days on the Anderson River, immediately to the west of the Horton. We also ended at the Arctic coast, from where we chartered a float plane to fly us back to Inuvik. I have posted a trip report here for the Anderson. I would love for people to read it. Lots of pictures!
 
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Glenn MacGrady

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I have posted a trip report here for the Anderson. I would love for people to read it. Lots of pictures.

Here is the trip report:

 

Glenn MacGrady

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Here's another thread start for you Glenn. What is your approx. total investment in tripping canoe(s)&gear and how has that worked out on a per trip basis so far?

(Tangent) Not for me to start. I start too high a percentage of the new threads on this site. I'm trying to get "you all", collectively, to start more threads. We average about the same 2-3 thread starts per day as we did 18 months ago, even though we have added about 500 new members since then. Everyone is mostly just reading or responding to old threads. Yet, every new thread will get an average of 15 responses. Posts per day jump up every time we significantly increase the number of new thread starts per day.
 
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Karen and I are relatively new to canoe tripping. We started in 2017 with an inherited canoe and car camping equipment from our kid rearing days. Our first trip was to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. We enjoyed the planning, anticipation, and entire trip experience. We were hooked! Since then we've made numerous trips to the Adirondacks as well as 3 additional Allagash trips. We've benefitted from some excellent paddling instruction and are slowly upgrading our equipment as budget allows.

We really like river trips and have thought about canoeing the Saint John River for a while now. We would "probably" be OK going alone, but when I think of the time of year the river is runnable it gives me pause. It's "probably" not wise for us to do it as a solo boat.

And so.... we're looking forward to our first guided trip this spring on the Saint John. We'll be able to safely experience a part of the world we're really interested in with some expert help.
 
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Before you all totally poo-poo the cost of the trip, realize that fly-ins up north are incredibly expensive--thousands of dollars. Pitt is well aware of that. Red Feather (e.g.) offers two week Nahanni trips for $9K. I'm assuming Pitt is headed a lot farther out, and for 50% longer. Airplanes and Avgas are expensive up there (as well as everything else). I commonly budget $4K (US) just for airplane rides in Alaska or Canada.

Pitt, we'd love to know where you're thinking of going!

Edit: I saw that you're not planning on going, but the above still applies. I am curious about where that trip is headed, though (without you).
I priced a self-guided trip for two on the Dubawnt River or Kazan about 15 years ago, leaving from Toronto using all of our own equipment and everything on a tight budget, the plan was to fly into the headwaters to avoid the big portage out of Black Lake or the two weeks of torture getting to Kazan Lake and that was the only "luxury" expense. The estimate in 2008 for two was +/- CA$10,000. I'm sure it would be more like $15,000+ today. My partner at the time eventually decided they could not afford it so I thought about doing it solo but that would only save about CA$3,000 (mostly flight out of Baker Lake to Winnipeg).

The arctic trips, guided or not are expensive unless you are doing some sort of loop that doesn't require a charter flight for access or egress.

For many, the primary reasons to go on a guided fully outfitted trip is a) lack of confidence in your experience, b) You don't own the equipment that would be required and c) you have the gear but not the two weeks of travel time required if you are coming from far away such as eastern Can/US (many of the people on these trips are coming from Europe).

Almost all of these trips have strict no (now legal) dope or drink policies and operate on a schedule I could not tolerate so count me out.
 
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Another way to justify the high costs charged for guided trips: How much would someone have to pay you to guide, babysit, and entertain 14 random people on a canoe trip for 2 weeks?

Alan
 
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Anyone who thinks guided canoe trips are expensive, some of the fishing lodges on the George River (Norther Quebec) charge CA$12,000 - CA$15,000 for FIVE days (per person, minimum 2), granted it is really deluxe but still $2000+/day to go fishing????????

What is "really deluxe:", up there it means instead of taking a motorboat 10km up to Helen Falls you go by chopper, at a max it's one guide for 2 people and they do EVERYTHING.

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Anyone who thinks guided canoe trips are expensive, some of the fishing lodges on the George River (Norther Quebec) charge CA$12,000 - CA$15,000 for FIVE days (per person, minimum 2), granted it is really deluxe but still $2000+/day to go fishing????????

What is "really deluxe:", up there it means instead of taking a motorboat 10km up to Helen Falls you go by chopper, at a max it's one guide for 2 people and they do EVERYTHING.
Not a wilderness experience I need at any price.
How much would someone have to pay you to guide, babysit, and entertain 14 random people on a canoe trip for 2 weeks?
See above... I'll enjoy being poor and solo.
 
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No way, no how, but I’ve got the gear and the experience. Trips in my neck of the woods run you about 450/500$ per day, 5000$ bucks for a bit less than a 2 week trip. My crew of 5 travel for way less than one person.
 
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How much would someone have to pay you to guide, babysit, and entertain 14 random people on a canoe trip for 2 weeks?
Well, for over 20 years, I just got payed regular teaching wages to take 15 to 25 high school rug rats out for periods of time ranging between 3 and 14 days. I've certainly got no interest in doing that again, for any money, although I guess everyone has a price.
 
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Karen and I are relatively new to canoe tripping. We started in 2017 with an inherited canoe and car camping equipment from our kid rearing days. Our first trip was to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. We enjoyed the planning, anticipation, and entire trip experience. We were hooked! Since then we've made numerous trips to the Adirondacks as well as 3 additional Allagash trips. We've benefitted from some excellent paddling instruction and are slowly upgrading our equipment as budget allows.

We really like river trips and have thought about canoeing the Saint John River for a while now. We would "probably" be OK going alone, but when I think of the time of year the river is runnable it gives me pause. It's "probably" not wise for us to do it as a solo boat.

And so.... we're looking forward to our first guided trip this spring on the Saint John. We'll be able to safely experience a part of the world we're really interested in with some expert help.
We did a group trip on the St John
and had an odd number so we rook turns soloing
Solo was a blast . All the canoes were tandems so the soloist of the day padled the old OT Kennebec
What a blast in Big Rapids
There is an option to drop luggage at the beginning of the rapids
 
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I priced a self-guided trip for two on the Dubawnt River or Kazan about 15 years ago, leaving from Toronto using all of our own equipment and everything on a tight budget, the plan was to fly into the headwaters to avoid the big portage out of Black Lake or the two weeks of torture getting to Kazan Lake and that was the only "luxury" expense. The estimate in 2008 for two was +/- CA$10,000. I'm sure it would be more like $15,000+ today. My partner at the time eventually decided they could not afford it so I thought about doing it solo but that would only save about CA$3,000 (mostly flight out of Baker Lake to Winnipeg).
You really need to get a PakBoat so you can fly commercially to/from the start. We're (finally) headed up to the Dubawnt this summer, and have priced the charters. We can fly commercially into Stony Rapids. Charter from Stony Rapids to Wholdai Lake in a Beaver is $3217 CAD (which will be split 4 ways). We'll be using an Otter at $3874 for the 218 miles. We'll be flying out of Baker Lake commercially, with the PakBoats as luggage. Total cost from Bozeman, MT comes to about $4500 plus some extra baggage, so figure ~$5000 US from home. It's still a lot of money, but sure as heck beats your estimate of $15,000.
 
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