Dory Trip in the Grand Canyon

I am not getting any younger. After a commercial trip down the Canyon in 2002, I am thinking about a dory trip which takes around 17-18 days. Has anyone made the trip in a rafter under 18 feet or in a dory? I would like to hear about your experience in the giant hydraulics of the Grand Canyon.

I did a 16 day private trip about 12 years ago in a 16’ raft. I had a decent amount of rafting experience at the time, but was primarily a whitewater OC1 boater with tons of seat time. The 16 footer of course felt like rowing a barge, because most of my raft time was in a 12’ raft on smaller more technical western Colorado rivers.

We stayed upright the whole trip, but had a couple of close calls. The two other rafts in our group were 18s, and both had at least one flip apiece. They took much more traditional GC lines (set up at top and power through), whereas we did a lot more back ferrying and picking our lines where we could. This isn’t to say we took any sneak routes, but rather ran the lines more like a canoe or kayak than a raft. It’s definitely a more active way to run the river. They thought our technique was crazy, but it’s what we knew, and it worked for us.

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Thanks ptickner. Good words.
I always choose careful lines. The hydraulics in the GC are so powerful, I cannot imagine any other approach than the one you used.
They are plenty of river runners that have much less skill than they realize. Sounds like some of them were on your trip.

Slightly off the main topic:
If you haven’t read “The Emerald Mile” about dories on the Grand Canyon, it’s a fun read.

The problem with picking lines and ferrying for most rafts in the GC is simply a question of weight, not skill. A fully loaded 18’ raft is an absolute pig to maneuver. It kind of necessitates a “line up and punch through” kind of run for most boats. We were lucky in that we were fairly lightly loaded (for a 16 day trip!) because we had the smaller raft. The other 2 rafts knew they were heavy, so they didn’t mind a little extra weight. They were good oarsman with multiple canyon runs under their belts, but as the saying goes, “sh*t happens!” You’ve got to be on your game, no matter what you’re paddling (or rowing).

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I am reading the Emerald Mile for the second time as we write. That’s why the GC is on my mind right now. I want to take my brother down on a non-motorized trip of around 17 days.

Most of my raft trips are for a week or more with a loaded 16 foot boat. This will be different only because of the hydraulics.