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Old 06-06-2009   #1
Gunnison, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 15
Please Read

This is perhaps one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write, but I think the boating community should be aware and hopefully take this in to consideration when running this specific drop, or any big drop in the future. Kayaking is an extreme sport, and sometimes comes with the ultimate consequence.
Yesterday, my fiancé and I were up scouting Sherman Falls/Cinnamon Gorge for the third day in a row. His goal was to run Sherman falls and hike back out of the gorge so we were never separated. We had already discussed the best line, safety set-up, and consequences. He made the decision to run, knowing that it was a big drop. I fully trust him to make his own boating decisions- he is a very rational, intelligent, mature man, an incredible kayaker, and he was confident he could hit the line.
He came over the falls just slightly over vertical and surfaced upside down. The timing of his roll with the surges in the waterfall were aligned just wrong so he ended up being pushed behind the falls. After numerous attempts to paddle out and getting pinned in the undercut river left wall, he swam and attempted to climb the railroad ties behind the falls to jump and catch a current out of the cave. I waited with a rope just beyond the pool. His jump was unsuccessful and all I can ascertain is that he was held underwater for a significant period of time. After waiting for him to resurface, I finally had to rope back up from water level to assess. Going back up was an incredibly difficult decision- I could not see as well from where I was, but if he floated out and I wasn’t down at water level, I would have no way to catch him if he floated by unconscious. He was still missing for a few more minutes as I made it back up, and then I saw him surface unconscious behind the falls with his boat.
After looking at all the options, and watching for several minutes, I was forced to conclude there was nothing more I could do. The purpose of posting this is not to start a “what if” scenario for our safety set up, so please, leave that to my own thoughts and nightmares. Search and rescue recovered him from behind the falls this evening. I would like to thank that entire team for recovering him without any injuries to their crew, and for the sheriff’s department of Lake City for helping myself and my family through this.
Life is fragile, sometimes surprisingly so. I think kayaking is learning the art of working with the very element that can destroy you. He died doing the thing he loved most with the person he loved most. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to say no one should run that waterfall, or even decide whether I will ever boat again at this point. I would just ask that you consider the risks before you set on the river, and know that anything can happen. Please keep us in your prayers.

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Old 06-06-2009   #2
Land of Lovin, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,449
I'm so sorry for your loss and experience, I hope you eventually find peace from the nightmare you witnessed.

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Old 06-06-2009   #3
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Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 29
My regards to him, yourself and the family...a reminder in how precious life is...
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Old 06-06-2009   #4
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
Sorry for your loss.
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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Old 06-06-2009   #5
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 129
very sorry to hear about your loss, thanks for sharing this experience for others to put some perspective on future decisions.
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Old 06-06-2009   #6
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Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 93
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 844
My condolences for your loss.
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Old 06-06-2009   #7
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Steamboat, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 887
Thoughts and prayers to those involved
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Old 06-06-2009   #8
over the horizon
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Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 267
So, so sorry for your loss. For what it is worth, know that there is genuine poetry in the way that your husband went to the great beyond. There is also a great understanding evident in your expression of grief to us.

Some of us reading this will be hit by cars, or worse. When all existence is said and done, our moments of beauty, poetry, and courage will remain forever.
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Old 06-06-2009   #9
Dillon, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 14
My condolences to you and your family.
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Old 06-06-2009   #10
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 13
thank you for writing even though it was hard to. we will all carry this in our hearts.

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