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Old 06-27-2010   #1
Cheyenne, Wyoming
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 26
Scary first over-nighter

I don't know if I should post this in the boater's forum or the safety forum, but here it is:

My wife and I took our first multi-day trip with our new raft (Mr. Boat Jangles) down from Six Mile Gap to Treasure Island on the North Platte River this past week. I don't know if he visits this forum, but I want to thank Brian from Steamboat Springs for helping us get our gear down to the put in. As we were getting ready to push off a group of very nice people came down to the put in with two canoes and an inflatable kayak. We talked for a while and they seemed to know what they were doing.

They pushed off ahead of us by about 10 minutes and we caught them after the first set of rapids. They were bailing their canoes and seemed to be having a good time (beer, fishing etc). We got down further and went through what was the most difficult bit of rapids between Six Mile Gap and Pickaroon and I had a feeling we should wait for the canoe group. Maybe it was the desire for cocktail/appetizer hour, we continued on to below Douglas Creek.

We arrived and had cocktails/appetizers and were starting to wonder where the canoe group was. About five minutes passed and we saw a canoe float past with no one in it. We kinda freaked. We ran down the river bank and my wife grabbed the canoe and I grabbed the bowline. One of their bags fell off the boat and started downstream. My wife ran along shore after it. I turned around and one of the canoeists was bobbing (alive and without a life vest) down the river. I ran into belly high water and grabbed onto the guy. He said he had been floating for about a mile downstream after his canoe. I helped him to the shore and started worrying about my wife. I found her walking up the Pickaroon Road with the lost bag.

The rest of the canoe party arrived and were extremely grateful for the help. We found out that the other guy in the flipped canoe was trapped under the canoe for a bit and was pretty scared out (rightfully so). Both my wife and I were really mortified from the experience and how we reacted. Neither of us grabbed our throw lines nor our life vests. I went out to fish the hatch and couldn't tie on a size 20 adams because my hands were still shaking a bit. That evening we decided that we need to take a swift water rescue course to help us act properly in that type of situation.

The next day we thought we would spend the night at Bennett and were we ever wrong. What a zoo. We continued on to Treasure Island for a 30 mile or so day. The pull out sucked because the water was swift and a drift boat was just hanging out at the boat ramp.

More exciting then we wanted for our first trip with our raft but, we learned quite a bit and had a great time.

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Old 06-27-2010   #2
rockinRio's Avatar
Thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 231
Don't beat yourself up over your decisions (life vests/throw bags) in the end you rescued a person, a canoe and a bag. So I'd say you did what you needed to do. You've also realized you should get more training. Which is also a good decision. I'd recommend taking a SWR class at least every other year if not every year.

I'd recommend for your next adventure... the Upper Colorado! Pumphouse to Radium for a day, or Pumphouse to State Bridge for an overnight.

You ARE a soul, you HAVE a body.

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Old 06-27-2010   #3
SummitSurfer's Avatar
Summit County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 435
I echo the post of rockin........ You saved someone and you now have a desire to help save yourself next time while saving someone else by taking a swift water rescue class. Unfortunately, rescuer sometimes end up becoming victims when they don't have the proper training.
You should focus one on the good river karma you have coming and your next trip, hopefully to the upper C.
Watch out for the banjo music though...ha ha just kidding!
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Old 06-27-2010   #4
possumturd's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 451

One of the most important elements in having a good time on the river is confidence in your abilities. SWR training will always enhance your confidence.
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Old 06-27-2010   #5
bobbuilds's Avatar
x, x
Paddling Since: x
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 1,634
Welcome to the river, you are going to see some real crazy shit out there, familiarize yourself with the Darwin theories and it will start to sit easier with you, especially around the camp overs and take outs.
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Old 06-28-2010   #6
front range, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1972
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 17
A class in river rescue is a great thing to take. Since you're going to be in the backcountry, some Wilderness Medicine or First Aid education could be helpful if you don't have it already. Might come in handy when you're not in the wilderness too.
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Old 06-28-2010   #7
Jacksonville, Florida
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 35
You should be proud of your (and your wife's) instincts. You quickly went out in the water to rescue someone without thinking of yourself - that's the stuff heroes are made of.

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Old 06-28-2010   #8
NolsGuy's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 109
Thumbs up to you and your wife dealing with a scary and stressful situation. I agree that a rescue course is wise and would suggest Mike Mather.

Here is his webpage with his email address. I've now take two of his courses and highly recommend him.

Mather Rescue - Index
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Old 06-28-2010   #9
Thronton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 665
Originally Posted by NolsGuy View Post
Thumbs up to you and your wife dealing with a scary and stressful situation. I agree that a rescue course is wise and would suggest Mike Mather.

Here is his webpage with his email address. I've now take two of his courses and highly recommend him.

Mather Rescue - Index
I just took his course a few weeks ago, and I agree. He's great, and it's a very worthwhile class. One I hope to never have to use! Just taking it does make you think about the river in new wyas though, and at least gets you thinking about what you should do iin a given situation.

Don't just take the course though, practice it! I just took my familly and my sister's familly down the Lower Eagle this weekend. We discussed self rescue, talked about things like foot entrapment, threw the throw bag around, etc. It kept the kids occupied during the shuttle time if nothing else. Later this summer when we get out on the Colorado in warmer water and weather, we'll be doing some swimming and more bag throwing. I want my kids to be better equipped than I was when I was a kid.

Like those that posted before me, I applaud your instincts and your rescue. PFD or not, throw bag or not, you probably saved a life, and that's something to be proud of. I am sure it shook you up, but take that lesson and get right back out there, having a great experience and lesson in your back pocket. A very experienced guide friend of mine told me just this weekend that the best thing you can do after something like that is get back out there.
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Old 06-28-2010   #10
sealion's Avatar
Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 131
Luke, trust your feelings......

The best part was "you had a sense you should wait for the canoe-ists" Go with that stuff, better safe than sorry.

I like to keep my life jacket slung over my oar shaft so I don't have to unclip anything- you can just run to your boat, slip it off the oar onto you and get after whatever you have to get after.

Got the person and the gear! Hope they slipped you a few cold ones!

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