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Soloing America's Big Ditch: Open Canoe Style

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It costs almost six dollars for one can, to which the cantina clerk shrugs and says, "It's the Grand Canyon."

None the less I’d rather pay $6 a can there than $1.85 a can at the Moab liquor store.

You're on day seven of a three week trip through Grand Canyon, and you brought no beer.

The horror. . . . the horror. . . .



And less than 0.5% of visitors run the river, which still turns out to be roughly 29,000 people a year.

I generally disapprove of rules and regulations, but just imagine what those canyon sites would look like without.

"This ain't my first rodeo. No one carried that Paco from the rim. Someone here is running the river and I want to know who that Paco Pad belongs to."



Allow me to reconsider my previous appreciation for rules and regulations.

But she interrupts you: "Would you like me to make this a big deal?" And you both stare through the darkness at each other.

Oh Christ on a crutch, who exactly is intent on making this a big deal. Bite your tongue Bad Ass.


You stare down at a $280 ticket, blinking a few times to make sure you're reading it right.

Ranger Yourlick played her ultimate dick card. I wonder if she gave your hiker friends similar grief or scoldings. My money’s on yes.

I have had thousands of interactions with Rangers, 99 percent of them good. The 1 percent of them that were being deliberately over officious give the rest a bad name, or at least bad memories. I recall each and every one of that bad 1 percent, and even years later could pick them out of a lineup.


"Yea," she'll say and then smile wide. "But you're a badass." And with the little twinkle in her eye you will realize she's mocking you. That she's heard the story from the check-in ranger and laughed over the crazy canoer with the beat up boat launching into Grand Canyon alone joking about being a badass. And that is when you will of a sudden feel like one. Because simultaneously and in tandem the entirety of the trip will wash over you in a sort of flood of relief and you will remember the enormous scale of this undertaking, the insignificance of your tiny boat in all this hugeness, the size of the river and the walls and the process and the place, all looming around you and before you and inside you, and the yellow ticket in your hand will bring it all back into focus. You will of a sudden be reminded that if you're going to buy beer in Grand Canyon the beer will be way too expensive, that if you're going to pay campground fees in Grand Canyon those fees will be enormous. And if you're going to run Grand Canyon alone in a canoe you're going to have to accept the term badass, however sarcastically it might get thrown around. In this way your stay at Bright Angel Campground will suddenly feel worth it, worth every penny and then some of Ranger Yurik's ridiculous, insignificant fine.

You will look down to hide your sudden smile and turn your motion into a little curtsy to Ranger Yurik. And when you look back up at her you will offer her a sly wink. "Thank you," you'll say. "My stay here at Bright Angel Campground was perfect. I'm going to go ahead and continue canoeing the Grand Canyon of the Colorado." And the two of you will share one more silent exchange before you spin on your heels and walk out into the rain. One more unspoken conversation before strolling out across the tiny metal bridge over a bubbling creek and then off down the Phantom Ranch Trail, skipping and clicking your heels in your mind, on your way toward some immense collision, wearing a smile as wide as the Canyon itself.

Well played, Bad Assed man.

Syphilization briefly intruded, on to better times.
 
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Dang Skwid. This is my favorite post so far. I've had a few run ins with razorbacks (forest pigs). A momentary inconvenience and a story to tell later. Bring it on.
 
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Memaquay: Slim Arrogance, for real.

Mr. Odyssey: Sometimes I get the distinct impression that to seem is to be. And that once upon a time you argued Kant to a disheveled group of ugly, troubled men, who sat across from you at a folding table and looked sternly down their noses at your ungroomed beard while you gave your oral defense. And that somehow, pipe and all, you wandered away from that stately, perhaps even English campus and, after an uncommon several shots of a sort of American Kentucky bourbon, fell stupidly into a canoe, located the paddle, and never returned to shore. Later you might have even been spotted with some southeastern American kayakers, running waterfalls and getting shoved under Appalachian sandstone and eating mostly raw meat. But don't worry, I get the distinct impression that that was all some time ago, beard long since gone.

Mr. Derness: Everything now has unfortunately changed. The doorknobs. The office walls. The taste of Merlot and the tip of fingertip to a lady's stomach. Does the world remain flat or is it somehow transformed in the planning and doing of something exotic and far removed? I do not know. I'm not sure I am ever happy, but I feel that this cannot go on. I must now move on to the Alsek, the Moise, the Nahanni. My three-hour radius grows grey and still. Bill Mason once called the Nahanni the Greatest Canoe Trip in the World, or some such nonsense. I suppose here it probably begins. Nahanni, anyone?

Mr. McCrea: One day I will pay your tab at your favorite bar, and we will talk Wallace Stevens, or perhaps Kant, and when we get drunk, Edward Abbey.

Coldfeet: Don't be ridiculous, even when I say something smart, like, "There is no such thing as truth."

Muskrat: I hear you. Hopefully I'll get warmed up here.
 
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Mr. McCrea: One day I will pay your tab at your favorite bar, and we will talk Wallace Stevens, or perhaps Kant, and when we get drunk, Edward Abbey.

There was a time when a tavern (The Gavel) sported a seat at the bar with my name on a brass plate. Hell, the owner’s were at my wedding.

There is no tab at my favorite bar, the outdoor bar at Cooterville. BYOB.







Now that’s a bar.

I will be having a beer there around this time tomorrow.

BTW, there are no bars or taverns in that rural county. You can buy beer at the Food Lion, but not a belly up shot to be had.

I know Wallace Stevens only from a gauntlet thrown in my direction, but we will have a good ole time with Abbey. Maybe some Bukowski for good measure.
 
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I've spent the last couple weeks in SE Arizona. I wish I could say I was happy to be home but that seems to be less true every time I return from a trip. One thing I did look forward to was catching up on this thread and you didn't disappoint. But reading this has not helped ease my transition back to the real world.

I can certainly understand the reason for rules and regulations in heavily used or delicate environments and for the most part I'm glad they're in place. Unfortunately that also excludes me from visiting those areas as I just can't bring myself to ask for permission to show up in the first place and then to reserve designated camp sites and worry a ranger could pop up at any time to make sure I was playing by all the rules. Not that there's anything wrong with doing so, it's just one of my personal hangups.

And less than 0.5% of visitors run the river, which still turns out to be roughly 29,000 people a year.

It's wonderful and amazing you were able to encounter so few people on such a heavily traveled river. The joys of journeying during the off season.

most everyone in the cantina looks to be a walking billboard for high tech clothing, most of all you in your thousand dollar dry suit, unzipped and pulled down to your waist.

Yeah, that's a realization that will take the wind out of your superiority sail in a hurry.

I'm seriously enjoying this report and am looking forward to more.

Alan
 
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"I've spent the last couple weeks in SE Arizona. I wish I could say I was happy to be home but that seems to be less true every time I return from a trip."

I've been on the banks of the New River in WV trying to recover from AZ. Not easy and, as you say, gets harder every time. We do what we can to transition back and forth, I suppose. I've got some more episodes and details from the Grand Canyon but they are all falling kind of flat right now. Will post more when they become acceptably presentable. At some point. I'm sure you had a good time wandering the desert.
 
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I've spent the last couple weeks in SE Arizona. I wish I could say I was happy to be home but that seems to be less true every time I return from a trip. One thing I did look forward to was catching up on this thread and you didn't disappoint. But reading this has not helped ease my transition back to the real world.

And I have just returned from a couple of weeks in Cooterville, AKA the Tortoise Reserve, deep in the swamps of eastern North Carolina. That is one of my favorite places on earth, another being the Chirichaua Mountains in SE Arizona, both places where my late great friend Dave Lee had established a foothold.

I am happy enough to be home; I will need a full day to put away tools and gear and paddling stuff, and know that I can pack it all back up in April for a return to the swamps and piney woods.

There is wi-fi at the Cooterville bar, and I walked down to that end of the property every couple of days, mostly to see if there was another chapter in Soloing America’s Big Ditch. I even brought along the Belknaps Grand Canyon map book so I could follow along.

I've got some more episodes and details from the Grand Canyon but they are all falling kind of flat right now. Will post more when they become acceptably presentable. At some point.

Skwid, the further I get away from a trip return the harder it is to try to capture that loving feeling in mere words and phrases.
 
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It's always interesting to get folks reactions to their first trip :- ) It's sorta like sex, much anticipated and studied in advance and then many of the finer points are lost in the excitement of your first time haha

......I was kinda suprised you decided to swim Hance, there's a good dry run down the bank on river left.....my wife ran it on her Paco Pad last year :- p

I thought about you on our trip (non-creepy way) and even scouted the rapids for you. So I have to ask what lines you took on the big ones?

I also have to say your writing style makes a GC trip sound awful dramatic down there haha....winter trips are like that though, they can be a little melancholy :- ) As soon as I can draw a trip on a spring or fall permit I'm going to solo it. I think winter is more fun for long, meandering, small party trips with good food, amenities and lots of off river hiking.

The NPS personal are my by far, far, far least favorite part of a GC trip, rigging beers, breathing exercises and letting my wife deal with them is how I cope. I'm a firm believer that river stips should be based on the size of the trip.

....so are you planning your next trip or did you get enough?
 
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Mr. Jag,

I found it pretty humbling and dramatic, actually, though I think most of the drama came in the form of people, or came as a result of paddling a canoe, or came as a result of paddling alone, or came as a result of spinning a yarn. The canoe feels pretty small down there. And paddling in cold comes with an edge. It also didn't feel nearly so wildly big until below the Little Colorado. Marble Canyon was green and beautiful. Neither do I think traveling with a large group full of light and beer would be nearly as dramatic. My brief glimpse into the trip of a large, raft supported group convinced me I'm not interested. And my brief glimpse at the winter crowds convinced me that winter is the only time. The ranger at the put in said there can be 160 people waiting to launch at the boat ramp on a summer morning. That sounds fightening to me. Not my style. I saw no boaters until Separation. Summer and people would afford the opportunity to plow into bigger hits, hike longer hours, get other people to prepare my food, but I thought the hits were plenty big and I didn't eat much. (Now the left side of Randy's Rock I'm still dreaming about squeezing. Next time. Left of Bedrock I don't want.)

I recall reading Bruce Cline's little piece on the mental preparations for a solo trip, and chuckling at his warning: "Do not underestimate the downright fear and anxiety you may feel--the kind that can literally drive you to your knees or deep into your sleeping bag." Until I stopped chuckling.

And after spending two hours in the rain scouting Granite and then running the right side line sort of at the last minute before I could change my mind down between the two holes and the cliff, I thought I'll probably run it solo every time. I mean, the canoe swamps out pretty quickly in the big ones, and that one felt like I entered the rapid with a full boat. But what a wild and solitary ride. Now concerning my dreamy and unrealistic thoughts of soloing Turnback Canyon in an open canoe: we'll talk sanity and drama later.

Hance was a certain right to left move. I'd way rather swim the main line big water than get tangled up in big water rocks and sticks and holes, bouncing over shit. Give me the main line swim anytime, especially down there where if you're in the fast water (as a canoe should be) the water moves so fast that nothing can get hold. I considered left at Granite for longer than I considered left at Hance. There was a possible slot left of the big boulder at top of Hance but that involved a tango with the sticks and I avoided any possibility of sticks and trees and slots.

Horns was right of right horn (they were covered and there was even a bumpy line between them that I passed on) and right to left for one big hit before the runout. Clean highway almost. Hermit I couldn't resist the first big wave and caught it just on the right side of the peak so I could launch and then tried to move offside down the shoulder of the second and crashed deep into the third, which was breaking like a hole, filling me to the gunnels, but all clean teetering wave train after. Right of Crystal to camp at the Lower Beach. Crystal was probably the only rapid that didn't quite live up to her name, even though I realize when most people talk of Crystal they are talking about 1983. Three stories tall it was not, though the first wave in Hermit was taller than my canoe. Right side Lava for an uneventful sneak past the right side of the hole and a higher hit on the lateral to miss the V, and then taking the second big wave from the left only because I wanted to. I scounted Lava for about 10 minutes and it didn't hold a candle to Granite. Bedrock was actually a bigger deal than I anticipated and staying right took some focus, but I didn't stop to scout or anything. I found most of the GC 7s to be straightforward read and run, usually with something to avoid. Upset looked to me like the biggest thing on the river, but offered an easy right skirt.

All in all I thought it was a pretty clean run for a red point in a loaded open boat, and more than the big ones, all the miles of rolling waves and overlapping currents struck me as something magical, like a taxi cab waiting to take me onto the next one down the line. But there is nothing like that first dose. Nothing.

For now I'm sticking with awesome and dramatic, and might think about tempering the passion later.


(Waterlogged and elated below Granite.)

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Mr. McCrea,

First, let me apologize.

Then let me explain that I walk a thin line, disclaimers and all, and that while my tale spirals into the strange comings and goings of a not-unhappy man standing at the midpoint of his life reflecting on the fact that he will die with so much left undone, I must necessarily wait such portions out.

I mean, who wants to read the sort of gibberish that puts a man drunk beside the New River, staring down at the strange pedestal and wings of a smooth, grey, foam block glued to the center of a canoe and held trapped to the hull by cheap wooden thwarts? Who? To consider how his own comings and goings, his own leanings and twistings drive the boat further downriver, bend after bend, drop after drop, expecting neither waterfall nor ocean, but simply another bend with another view of another place, endlessly fascinating. He can trace the river as a blue line running across the map and he can put this boat anywhere he wants on the same river in real time, then point again to his location on the map. This represents that. This space is the same as that space. The idea of place. These words represent that thing. This sentence means that.

But then what?

Squatting down to run his hand along the higher of two edges as the hull jags down to the flat bottom of his canoe, he remembers too many things at once and teeters slightly. The simplicity of moving through life in a canoe confounds him. Then he remembers his listing can of beer and stands up to look out over the dark water. He swallows the last swallow and crumples the can in his hand, throws it down into the boat where it rattles the night awake. Tonight it will rain: that much he knows.

Who wants to read of his children that are mostly grown, of the wife he loves but from whom he feels uncomfortably distant, the job that, if not meaningful, at least offers freedom and friendship and a certain ease of being? His hammock hangs in the trees behind him, here on the east coast, a familiar cocoon that affords good sleep above ground. He is comfortable in his life, probably too. Not important enough to be hounded or bothered by people of the marketplace. And yet there is some shadow moving out on the horizon, a few broken stalks of corn where once passed something great and horrible. Where is this creature he seeks? And what is meant by its apparent loss?

Here on the backyard run of the New River, among the familiar mountains, the stars are out and stretch across the sky between the walls of trees. Still he knows it will rain, as if by the sound of the wind in the branches. He can close his eyes and block out the general din of his distant world and hear the water again. He fought with his wife for no reason sitting on the sofa and left the next morning in an angry huff. They have been married twenty-five years and whenever he is away from her, he misses her sorely. Still they both like a little space. He can press his leg against the boat for a sense of comfort.

In Grand Canyon he didn’t take his hammock, opting instead for a small mesh tent. He left the fly off when he could, which provided decent views of the sky. The tent also afforded a quick setup without trees and enabled easy protection from a fair amount of rain and a few nights of wind, and then the tent gave him a place to hide and read when he needed space to himself. Space to himself. As if, from time to time, he felt the need to hide from Grand Canyon and all its strange enormity.

The tent, as opposed to the tarp or simply running for cover under overhanging cliffs, offered the ease of mind that however tense things got, or however bad the weather, the man had a warm, dry space waiting at day’s end, no matter where he washed ashore. He appreciated that ease of mind and felt he could then push himself a little harder in other places--take an extra half hour to explore Nautiloid Canyon, for instance, or walk another half mile up South Canyon--and know he could duck out of the rain or cold and easily pull into camp after dark.

Martha’s Camp, at Mile 38.7, backed into a drain against blocky sandstone and was a dark camp to begin with. The Redwall Canyon feels narrow. He didn’t arrive until almost five thirty partly because he almost stayed at Tatahatso, Mile 37.9 and too brushy for his liking, and partly because there was so much to see in the Redwall. The sights of the day read like a list of what’s what in the Grand Canyon: Pueblo Ruins, Stanton’s Cave, Vasey’s Paradise, Redwall Cavern, Nautiloid Creek: all classic points of interest that left him scrambling around on the rocks from place to place the entire day. He got to camp late and setup was quick and easy thanks to the tent.

Even here, swaying drunkenly beside the New River and staring down at a new boat, he recalls the Redwall Gorge as about the most beautiful of all miles throughout the Canyon: narrow but not frightening, deep but not without space, the river like a friendly cab driver waiting to whisk you away. The river green with underwater light and running in white stacks down beside the red cliffs, the stacked cubes and shallow caves and layers of the Redwall itself, the newness of being part of Grand Canyon: all stitching the fabric of that first week, all weaving a carpet of magic that now he can neither ride nor escape. The trouble facing him almost immediately is that he may not run the river at all tomorrow. He may just pack up his car and load the boat and drive the interestate home. And this bothers him immensely.

You might as well know that he took a few books out west and read mostly in the evenings, between the setting sun and sleep or before the moon rose and when the view of the space was hidden. There wasn't much time for reading during the day, and most of the rain didn’t fall hard and was easy to live in. Quite a bit of rain fell on him during January but mostly it was like the sky was spitting a little and barely covering the rocks and sand with a thin film of water.

He took another layover day at Mile 193.3 and read for about two hours on the beach, shirtless, sunglasses and with clothes inside out and airing all around him. His solar panel hung beside him and charged a storage battery for the GoPro and camera and he imagined the whole scene probably looked like a crash landing, the way everything was spread out and soaking up the sun. The sun and cold water felt like an immersive and total cleanse and he caught a tiny glimpse of some people's fascination with the beach: the endless parade of beachgoers. The crust of the everyday cracked off and the skin underneath felt tender and tingly, as if he were sucking in air with a peppermint melting in his mouth. He walked out into the river and dropped beneath the surface and kept his eyes shut to the silt with the power of the water grabbing at his body and pushing and pulling him downstream. He forced himself to stay under and let himself be carried by the water before scrambling up and dancing back to the shallows. He bathed with soap and let himself drip dry, dancing around to keep warm.

And every half hour or so he would excitedly jump up from his lazy reading and wade out again into the water before walking the extent of the beach and doing a bit of rock hopping to admire the river and walls in both directions: the colors and composition and moving light. There can be no equal to standing on the rocks beside the water surrounded by canyon walls and stretching out your arms. He imagined himself both enormous and tiny, omnipotent and helpless, one thing but then another. He may have screamed as loudly as he could and listened to the sound carry itself away, snaking itself away into the deeper parts of the canyon. And then, earlier, before the sun reached the beach, he took a short hike up the dry wash behind camp to some impressive narrows that required a fully extended horizontal body chimney to avoid the water collected at its narrowest point. The move wasn't as hard as it looked and he looked forward to doing it again on the return.

At mile 193.3 the canyon opened to the sun and the walls fell back and the sky stretched out between the rims. Just like Cardenas Camp, he found himself favoring the open spaces of the canyon. The narrowest places seemed exotic and strange but also made him feel like an intruder, having survived some crash, as if not yet welcomed down into the basement of the earth. The blue of the sky was deep blue without a single cloud. The canyon walls had surrounded him for sixteen days and when they stepped away from the river become ever-so-slightly less dramatic. He made some afternoon tea to complement the cooler sand beneath his legs and added a big gulp of spiced rum. He imagined there are probably places human beings do not belong; places whose very existence is so fragile we ought not get too close. Or so it would seem. The desert is one thing but also another. He wasn't fooled. And the moonlight too, when the moon rose over his open tent close enough to reach out and poke with a stick, it shone all night like a bright white bulb onto a strange land.

Even now he can tell you what he knows: that the physical world is almost but not quite enough, that life will sometimes offer up the unexpected, the beautiful, as if as a gift, for reasons that will forever remain unknown. He can understand these things in such a way and to whatever small degree.

The book he read on the beach at mile 193.3 was a formal collection of Grand Canyon writings compiled by Bruce Babbitt. It was sort of an academic introduction that turned out to be better than it sounded, and included many of the classic Grand Canyon texts he’d read anyway, as a student before his trip. It was nice having those writings collected in one book and not having to bring, for instance, Powell’s account of the inner gorge or Stanton’s account of the tragedy. (The man stopped and read some of Powell’s mid-August entries from 1869 on the rocks below Clear Creek Camp, mile 84.8, to help regain focus and relax on his first day paddling through the granite gorge.) Or Joseph Krutch's wonderful essay concerning the Grand Canyon's climactic zones as Barrier: “Thus Far Shalt Thou Go,” and offering learned insight into the way lifeforms get forced into different geographical pockets of the earth. Of particular interest in Babbitt's collection was a selection from Edwin Corle's "Listen, Bright Angel," containing the story of Captain John Hance. Listen, Bright Angel, probably worth picking up.

Captain Hance was one of the original freelance explorers to make a home on the canyon's rim after failing to make money mining asbestos deep down the trail that now bears his name (and which will also present you with a fine view of his rapid). As with many of the miners, hermits, and professional liars that made their way and living atop the canyon's rim, Hance was as mysterious and colorful as he was well-liked. And as with many who attempted to wrangle the resources from the depths of the canyon, he found the costs of getting the product back out to the rim prohibitive. Thus he graduated into the role of a sort of Grand Jester of the Grand View Hotel (where he received room and board), amazing and astounding guests with his tall tales of absurd or impossible fantasy. On rare occasions when the canyon filled with fog, Hance would don his snowshoes and proclaim to startled guest that she was just about right for a crossing, that later in the night they might look for his fire on the North Rim. Then he would disappear up the rim trail toward Yaki Point.

The man on the beach at mile 193.3, imagining the man on the New River, was also struck by a selection of readings under the heading, “The Visual Image,” with a smattering of writers attempting to describe the scene that is Grand Canyon from the best vantages, a near impossible task. Some of the descriptions have made lasting impressions and entered our symbolic complex. Thanks to Clarence Dutton, for instance, descriptions of canyon features are now rife with architectural simile, often named after Oriental Deities. Brahma Temple, Buddha Temple, Manu, Shiva, Vishnu, etc… All thanks to the writings of Dutton. Of course, it doesn’t take much more than a cursory glance at the Muav Limestone or Temple Butte Formation to bring those strange similes into accurate focus. He’s absolutely right on. On the other hand, so many descriptions often result in, well, stuff that reads like this: "Color so rich and rampant that it floods the whole chasm; so powerful that it dissolves like acid all the shapes within it."

Wow, then.

He crawls into his sleeping bag strung out between two Sycamores on the banks of the New River Gorge in West Virginia. He lifts his body first this way and then that way to slide into and straighten his bag, suspended out between the twin extremes, and flexes the knot in his left shoulder blade. A piece of inflamed cartilage, or so he's been told, that sometimes hurts for reasons he cannot explain. Whence we come, whence we go? he asks not to the branches above him, nor the sky full of stars, but the Eno rain fly hanging two feet above his face. The rain is coming, and he knows this. But he's protected and sleeps well in a hammock beneath the tarp. He's glad to be back on the east coast with a family that knows him and back with the rivers he loves. He imagines no other geographic zone would do. He's pretty certain he drinks too much but if that's his only crime, and he manages to keep his boat tied high and dry, he figures everything will be okay.

Who in their right mind? I ask.

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I surely agree on summer peak season at the Ferry, no doubt chaotic for rangerettes fashionably attired in body armor, Sam Brown Batman belt, complete with Glock, Tazor and flex cuffs for a party of 16 in 100° plus weather :- ) Honesty though, just about the time I'm ready to go full metal Jihad, I run into some folks that truly need loving ranger guidance. I avoid their attention by being a really sneaky bastard or simply following the rules to the letter.

For boaters though, it's Cherries rigging on the CO for their first time, first time 'Trip Leaders' freaking out, old friends meeting again, excited tourist looking for their motor rig. The Ferry has a unique summer buzz and charm that's hard to describe. I just crack a beer and soak up the carnival experience rig my boat and move down the beach haha. It's been that way since the JW Powell trip (un-permitted with a really bad food pack) partied on the beach before shoving off haha

Once I'm on the river no matter the trip size, two boats or twelve, seems our average is 3 or 4 boats over a couple dozen trips. It's our river, passing under Navajo Bridge I can't help but just giggle. Last time I was so giddy my wife asked if I had been smoking weed with the bikini clad guide gals haha Nope, just helping the damsels with thier outboard, really :- )

The Canyon is no more a virgin wilderness experience than Everest. Yep it's bigger than most and can be dangerous, though most folks get hurt on the side hikes :- ) ...yet there is no other place in CONUS like it.

Your runs sounded good to me, I would cheat run them all solo in the winter :- ) I personally thought the no-names would be the most open (sorta) boat drama, since they really can't be book scouted and take too long to bank scout even if they could be. The next would be the 20's some have big laterals and it a bad place for a swim and self recovery. I've kayaked and ducked all 7 of the big ones at this point on various trips. The fun of multi boat trips (to me) is getting a little wild with some bro's around to pick up the pieces haha

I've drawn twice for spring/fall trips and just couldn't/wouldn't stomach the idea of leaving my fearless, hard working, tireless, cuddly (really cuddly :- ) hippy boat woman wife on the beach for three weeks. Who the hell would grind and press my coffee in the morning or drive the boat when I'm playing in someone's small boat :- ) Not sure a winter self support be up to the level of fun and comfort I'm accustomed too :- )

I never get too excited about GC hiking off the river, there's some fun canyons, falls ect hard to call it hiking though :- ) Winter trip three years ago (I think) we did a lot of hiking below Diamond, neat area with lots to see and explore one you get past the Riverside ugly. There are much better SW area's for hiking though.

Glad you had a safe trip and hope you found what you were looking for down there :- )
 
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I surely agree on summer peak season at the Ferry, no doubt chaotic for rangerettes fashionably attired in body armor, Sam Brown Batman belt, complete with Glock, Tazor and flex cuffs for a party of 16 in 100° plus weather :- ) Honesty though, just about the time I'm ready to go full metal Jihad, I run into some folks that truly need loving ranger guidance. I avoid their attention by being a really sneaky bastard or simply following the rules to the letter.

For boaters though, it's Cherries rigging on the CO for their first time, first time 'Trip Leaders' freaking out, old friends meeting again, excited tourist looking for their motor rig. The Ferry has a unique summer buzz and charm that's hard to describe. I just crack a beer and soak up the carnival experience rig my boat and move down the beach haha. It's been that way since the JW Powell trip (un-permitted with a really bad food pack) partied on the beach before shoving off haha

I have sat on the tailgate of my truck and witnessed the raft packing follies, complete with all of those characters, brouhaha and bro haha reunion at Lee’s Ferry. It was entertaining, mostly because I was not a part of it or trying to get launched amidst the chaos.

My usual tripping companions today are the model of peak efficiency at loading gear and getting gone, whether launching, breaking camp or packing up at the take out, and I try my best to avoid crowded launches or even Fri-Sun put in and take out timing.

If I were the NPS Ranger checking gear and permits at peak season I expect I would soon find that buzz less charming, and body armor, Glock, tazer and couple dozen flex cuffs would be my preferred crowd control equipment. Maybe a cattle prod so I could reach out and touch someone who just wasn’t listening. I think it would soon test my forbearance.

There must be some perk to that posting. Do they get to be downriver Rangers throughout the season and float the GC a half dozen times a year? That would look impressive on a résumé.
 
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I don't know about perks or if they rotate in and out, frankly I've never quizzed any of them up about it. I know it would not be a job for me haha

By the time folks get to Lee's a lot of water has already passed under the bridge, along with time, money, emotions of all kinds and a whole soup sandwich of the human condition. Everybody is absolutely sure their experience is totally unique and special haha......and the Ranger see's it all day in and out. Hearing all the excuses for the favorite PFD missing a buckle, why one boat has four oar shafts and three blades. Why the former Airforce C130 rigger has a better way to signal aircraft and doesn't need the marker panels and on and on and on haha

We shop our trips carefully, and do our best to gently guide our 'Trip Leader' though the most perilous trip stopping aspects. Such as Lee's Ferry river orientation and having the river stips gear covered. Show the nice (or cranky) person what they want to see, shut up and let them throw out their mandatory spiel and all's good. Honey can you grab me another of those icy rigging beers? :- )

When the trips on the river, it's all good, my wife and I run as good group team members, helping everywhere we can knowing if it goes stupid for others we are good. Shopping the trip wisely heads most drama off. On mixed group trips with strangers we've had very little drama and a whole bunch of good times with folks we didn't meet till the beach :- )

Warts and all there is no other run in CONUS with the same history and culture as the CO though the GC. I know folks that don't even consider running other rivers. I'm not amongst them, good snow pack this year we are going to shred it up haha
 
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Warts and all there is no other run in CONUS with the same history and culture as the CO though the GC. I know folks that don't even consider running other rivers. I'm not amongst them, good snow pack this year we are going to shred it up haha

For folks who do not have the skills, balls or shred it up fortitude to run the Grand Canyon on a personal trip (me), nor the disposable income to float it on a guided trip (me as well), I recommend the Green River from Ruby Ranch to Spanish Bottom.

The shuttle fee, trailer to Ruby and jet-boat upstream from Spanish Bottom, is under $200 each using personal boats, the BLM permit is free and Tex’s Riverways or Tag-a-Long will rent every piece of needed equipment from boats to toilets and firepans if you show up with just an overhead bag. Use Tex’s, they are very good and well organized.

http://texsriverways.com/

100 miles of flowing river that Moses could successfully have floated in a reed bassinette. Gobs of history, great side hiking, awesome cliffs and vistas, ancient granaries, ruins and inscriptions. And no lottery; once you have a jetboat retrieval scheduled from Spanish Bottom the permit process from the BLM and NPS is guaranteed.

http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtopic.php?f=163&t=41410

http://www.canoetripping.net/forums...ert-SW-travels-and-3-weeks-on-the-Green-River=

I am not trying to compare the Grand Canyon to the Green through Labyrinth and Stillwater, but is there another 100 mile class 1-ish river run out west with similar ease and history allure?

Maybe a 50 mile run?

20 miles?

Seriously, I feel another western trip coming on.
 
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Don't sell yourself short Mike :- )

Most folks drawing permits for the GC aren't SW boaters, a goodly percentile aren't even rafters per se' and outfit everything including the chow and do just fine. I've done trips with folks in that group and have had a great time. Even if folks are rafters somewhere else it's not likely they are boated for the GC. Sure anything that floats and is rugged will work, but it's easier/funner with room to stretch out.

Solo boating being an exception, but even there you got the stips gear and the logistics of no-cooler chow for a couple weeks. Which is all good if that's your cup of tea.

IMO at the end of the day the GC is about the logistic and a good attitude, dudes have done it on truck tubes with backpacks dodging rangers the whole way haha

I've dipped neither oar nor paddle in the Green if such time comes you need company for such a trip I would be game
:- )
 
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Mike, let me know when you want to go. I've been wanting to do the Green too.
 
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