Sean joined Idaho River Journeys on a Main Salmon rafting trip in June of 2008 in which he brought his own boat. Later that year, he participated in a private Grand Canyon trip. Here's his trip report:
Had a great trip on the GC. I admit that I fretted a lot about bringing a smallish boat down there but as you all told me in advance things ended up working out fine. My brother ended up not going so we had 4 boats with 7 ppl. I rowed my 14' Hyside, my friend John rowed his 16' cat, a couple from Boise brought their Aire 156R and the TL brought an ancient 15' Riken with his 12 yr old son.
First flip was in Granite when the 156R got corkscrewed over about halfway down. We re-flipped within 15 mins and they were back in business with no loss of gear and not much got wet either. I ended up getting an extremely wild ride in Granite with my boat more or less completely full of water when I hit something big. I think it was the same feature that flipped the Aire but who knows for sure. We had planned on running Hermit that same afternoon but the flippers wanted a little time to rebuild their confidence so we camped right there at the Hermit camp.
I scouted Hermit the night before and decided to sneak it left but after watching my pal take it right down the gut I changed my mind and did the same. The 5th wave surged right as I hit it and I glided right up on top and my boat stalled for an instant perched high on the wave before zooming down the back. Prob best ride of the trip.
I ran the right shore sneak at Crystal after watching an 18 footer flip in the hole near the right side. I also saw an 18 footer flip in Hermit and 2 other 18s lose passengers in Hance and Hermit. Another 18 hit the island right below the first part of Crystal and they took 3 hrs to get it going again.
Rest of the trip was pretty uneventful till Lava. I did hit a few big holes but all with good momentum and other than a scary stall in a big hole in some obscure GC class 6 rapid called Specter my boat was never in danger. John and I scouted Lava and decided the most fun run would be just right of Ledge Hole. The entry looked a little bit tight but going just right of the big hole appeared to set you up for a fun but do-able ride right through the heart of the rapid. We both ran it just as planned at got an exciting wet ride and waited for the TL and the Boise couple to run it. The TL appeared to go a little more right (away from Ledge) than we did and got sideways and flipped early on. John and I waited till the swimmers got near and recovered the kid and boat and the next boat down picked up the TL from shore and he had dislocated his shoulder somehow but reduced it pretty quickly.
The 12 yr old kid Teal rowed most of the rest of the trip (we ran their boat down the bigger rapids for them) which was uneventful till that new "Pierce Ferry Riffle" rapid around mile 280. We did not scout it and were surprised at the decibel level coming from the river as we approached. The rapid was a tricky one with a big rock in the middle and not much time to make the left/right decision at the top. Right was a steep chute with uncertain consequences so we all went left. John went too far left and hit a big hole and then got caught in a big toilet-bowl looking recirculating feature that was repeatedly jamming his boat up against the rocks on river left. The Aire and I both pulled back hard and our boats bounced off the big lateral steering us clear of the carnage. I looked back to see Teal hitting that same lateral a bit sideways and the Riken flipped again. Dad and boat came out of the rapid pretty quickly and were recovered and Teal had to put some effort into his swim to get out of the slack water behind the mid-river boulder. We picked him up and re-flipped the Riken and were at South Cove early in the afternoon.
It was a great trip and I know my rowing and river reading are far better now than before.
Thanks again for the encouragement and for the advice and tips up on the Main Salmon. The Main did turn out to be a pretty good introduction to large river dynamics and gave me some good experience and confidence going down to the GC.
Please forward this along to the guides (Beth, Brian, Matt, Phil) along with my thanks for the great trip they ran in June.
If you are a private boater who would like to row your own boat on one of our commercial launches, please give us a ring at 1-888-997-8399.