Intro to GC packrafting

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shelby147
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Intro to GC packrafting

Post by shelby147 »

Hi folks! Frequent hiker and first-time forum-poster here. After a busy year of hiking and gazing wistfully across to the north side of the canyon, I'm eager to dive (literally?) into packrafting. I'm planning to get the supai matkat/ olo paddle (please be in stock!) because I still plan to spend the majority of my time on land and weight is important to me. I also think hitches would end up taking too long and being too inflexible to rely on regularly. Several questions:

I'll need a pfd. Looks like the MTI Adventurewear Journey is the lightweight choice but I can only find it on ebay. Is anything else comparable (<16oz)?

A ranger at BCO about as easy to get a packrafting permit as normal backpack permit. I wouldn't have guessed. Is it really so simple?

Recommendations for flatwater stretches to cross or not cross? I'm considering trips into Shinumo and Chuar valley while I learn the ropes. Do I need to pick up a river guidebook or learn to read water to avoid being sucked downstream where it looks calm? I know rocks destroy the matkat so assuming I'll have to wade when landing, which means I'll probably put off trips until spring.

What do I not know I don't know?
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Re: Intro to GC packrafting

Post by trekkin_gecko »

@shelby147
need to tag:
@bifrost
@FOTG
@dave1
@grottogirl
hope i'm not leaving anyone out
hazhole
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BiFrost
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Re: Intro to GC packrafting

Post by BiFrost »

I personally have the Alpacka Scout as do several others on this thread. It's rugged (don't have to worry about rocks as much) and pretty light 3.8 lbs. Probably biased but think it's the best packraft out there. I have the Astral EV-Eight pfd but there are lighter options. For kayak paddle I would just say go light as you can. Werner has some good light options but the light four piece paddles can be pricey.

There is good flat water between Carbon and Lava Rapids that make for good crossing at Palisades. Also the stretch below Basalt Rapids to Unkar is pretty flat. Both are good for crossing...there are many others but I'd start there.

The permit is easy to get for now until they make it not easy to get. It's just a checkbox on the regular backpacking permit.
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nonot
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Re: Intro to GC packrafting

Post by nonot »

Packrafting is simply an extra option (with extra fee?) on your permit. Since permits are based on backcountry campsite location, inclusion or exclusion of packrafting doesn't change your chance of getting a permit. However, as packrafting may allow you to camp in remote areas of the park, you may be applying for a permit in a code area where there is little to no competition.
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Re: Intro to GC packrafting

Post by GrottoGirl »

@shelby147 - so I own a Supai, Klymit LWD, Scout, and a Alpacka Wolverine. It depends on what you want to do as to which raft you should by. If you only will cross the river then the Supai and Klymit are good options. If you want to travel through riffles and longer distances get the Scout. The Scout can do class 3 rapids but you will have to dump and blow. If you want to do trips that are more river miles then trail miles then you start going with the other Alpacka boats. With any of the boats pretty much plan to sit in some water.

The carbon fiber paddle that comes with the Supai can break if you hit any rocks with it. I’d recommend the 4 piece hybrid Manta Ray.

I would take a whitewater rescue class. I’ve taken a couple plus packrafting classes. I recommend Swiftwater Safety Institute for their excellent Packraft classes. I throughly enjoyed the 5 day Packraft expedition class which has given confidence that I can do up to class 3 rapids without a problem. Note that I’m using the regular whitewater rating system not the Grand Canyon rating system.

I have an Astral PFD also.

I bought the River guide for the Grand Canyon to try to help figure out where rapids are and how to avoid them. Also plan to ask questions. I second Karl’s suggestion about Lava and Carbon canyons!

Anyway let me know if you have other questions.
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toddak
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Re: Intro to GC packrafting

Post by toddak »

Haven't used a packraft specifically to cross the river but I've canyoneered and then packrafted several GC routes with mellow floats that didn't require running any significant rapids.
Used pretty low budget gear, Flyweight Designs raft (I think they're out of business now) with an Advanced Elements 4-piece paddle. Routes: down Cottonwood Creek/exit up Old Grandview, down Salt Creek/exit up Hermit, down Clear Creek (portaged 3 rapids)/exit up S Kaibab, down Shimumo Wash/exit up Fence Fault. Cottonwood and Shimumo would be decent beginner routes. I agree with GrottoGirl about taking some classes if you are wanting to get serious and run classified rapids. Also, if you don't already have it get Todd Martin's Grand Canyoneering book.
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shelby147
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Re: Intro to GC packrafting

Post by shelby147 »

Thanks all for the feedback!

The gear tips are solid. I'm not looking to whitewater yet so I'll postpone splurging on an Alpacka. Glad to see that the Lava/Carbon/Unkar area would make a good first paddle trip and excited to look into those others.

Has anyone ripped a pfd attached to the outside of their pack (thinking of limestone scrambles)? My pack is very scuffed but not holey yet.

And I wish I had Todd Martin's book! For now I've found a copy in the Cline library special collections.
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toddak
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Re: Intro to GC packrafting

Post by toddak »

@shelby147
There's a copy of Grand Canyoneering on ebay right now, $50 with 1 bid and 6+ days left in the auction. I'd rank having the book right up there with a good pfd :D
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Re: Intro to GC packrafting

Post by GrottoGirl »

@shelby147
I haven’t ripped my PFD. I have started to pull it over the top of my pack so it isn’t in the area that gets beat up.
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Re: Intro to GC packrafting

Post by BiFrost »

@shelby147
I haven't ripped a pfd either...I mount it on the backpack top as well and that seems to work with no issues yet.
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Re: Intro to GC packrafting

Post by rcorfman »

My group went to clear creek and wanted to pack-raft back to Bright Angel, but since there's a trail, we weren't given the permit. That's just to say, that packrafting is limited to short jaunts across or down the river, not anywhere you want. Another trip, we hauled a two-person inflatable kayak up and down Tanner to get to the petroglyphs on the other side, a bit above Tanner rapids. Pack-rafting looks fun, enjoy it.
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toddak
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Re: Intro to GC packrafting

Post by toddak »

Update: the copy of Todd Martin's Grand Canyoneering book sold on ebay for $129! I've moved my copy to a safe deposit box at the bank.
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shelby147
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Re: Intro to GC packrafting

Post by shelby147 »

toddak wrote:Update: the copy of Todd Martin's Grand Canyoneering book sold on ebay for $129!
I was watching that! Guess I'll have to spend a day photocopying the one at the cline library...
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