Raft-Packing in the Grand Canyon

Packrafting is using the boat for 50% or more of your time/and or distance on a trip; “raft-packing” is using the boat for crossings and short floats. The distinction is important for the Grand Canyon of the Colorado.

I may be looking for somebody – most likely from the Lower 48, as tickets from AK during Spring Break are pricy – to go to the GC during March. I have used up my river permit for this year, but have a backcountry permit for a neat hiking trip using the raft to criss-cross the river to get to better hiking. The trip is down the Royal Arch route, then through Stephens and Conquistador Aisles wherever walking’s good to Tapeats Ck, next up and over on trails to Deer Ck, back to the River, walking to Kanab, then floating to Matkatamiba, up Matkat and out to Hualapai Hilltop.

Like a week. Must go lightweight. Maybe in a single, custom, parallel sided and open packraft (4 inches longer on inside than Dory) that I have used with two-in-one-boat with good results; indeed, I have extensive experience with two-in-one packrafting, running up to Class III+ with two in as small a boat as the Yak. This custom boat is the answer to those many years of two-in-one boat. I like it.

It’d be best to have somebody along with a bit of off-trail hiking experience in the SW; this is more hiking than rafting.

MAN O MAN! If I didn’t have a 4 month old baby girl at home right now, I would LOVE to join you. I think I’m gonna have to stay with the smaller trips this year. I wish you luck and whoever goes, have a ball! :stuck_out_tongue:

Hi Roman,
That seems like some very ambitious mileage for the GC for a week, but maybe I’m not seeing some routes along Stephens and Conquistador Aisles that you see. I’m available if you decide to cover less mileage - or if I’ve over estimated the difficulty :slight_smile: It should be a spectacular trip!

I’m not able to break away, but there’s a very cool, raft-using side excursion to:

Thunder River Cave. It’s about 3 miles up from where Tapeats Creek comes into the river. Thunder river ejects from the Redwall, above two short pitches (30 feet or less) of low 5th-class rock. You can climb/stem into the cave, up through fissures floored in rushing water, then - after a little routefinding - do a short step of underground climbing (15 ft -ish). Then follow the main cave (no side chambers), and you’ll shortly be rafting up through half-flooded underground tunnels (1 main tunnel/gallery series, no side tunnels to get lost in). Goes in circa 400 meters.

I haven’t done the Thunder River Gorge descent, but that’s 4th-class, super-committed water (enclosed gorge). Looks like the kind of thing Sam & Nathan would excel at. I’d love to do it one of these days, but not until I’ve learned more about slabs & drops outside of a basalt gorge…

Good luck! Sounds like an awesome trip.