Howdy folks & I'm lucky I'm actually here to tell my story.
Yesterday (Monday 5.19) I set off what was to be a 2-day float trip down the Gunny River through Escalante Canyon to take out at Whitewater east of Grand Jct. First off, I waited in the hot sun by myself for 2 1/2 hours for the boat party (a total of 4 of us; a couple on a huge beat-up, patched gray boat held together with about a dozen plastic ties hold the zippers together. The other party was on a one-person yellow pontoon fishing oar raft). I was to follow along in my gray eskimo kayak. I have lots of raft miles under my belt and have enough kayak skills to do certain trips but I do know that my roll is not as consistant as it should be. However, knowing that the river is running wicked high with funny water, I was under the understanding that it was pretty flat with no whitewater to be concerned with. I also assumed that my friends (the ones on the raft - "Griff" and his girlfriend) have LOTS of raft experience and supposedly stress the safety issue and to be sober while on the river, itself (which they were if you can believe that).
After waiting several hours, we finally took off around 3pm. About 2 miles down the river, we encountered some (to me) unexpected rapids which were quite sketchy. I stuck close to Griff's boat who were upstream from my approximately 50 to 100 FEET (NOT YARDS).
I went over a large wave (a rock I later found out that 2 canoeists last year wrapped a boat and broke it; apparently, it's still there). I didn't make my roll and exited the boat, holding onto the hand-hold at the nose of my boat with one hand and paddle in the other. Luckily, I put a whistle on my life jacket which ultimately saved me.
I was screaming, "HELP, HELP, HELP"
and blew the whistle. Griff had a trolling motor on the boat where his girlfriend was sitting right next to. Griff was at the oars. Neither did absolutely NOTHING
to even ATTEMPT
a rescue. I was hoping that they were just frantically oar over to me so I could grab onto their boat to get to shore so I could collect my bearings and move on. He didn't even attempt to communicate to his GF to start up that motor to come get me. Yes, they saw me; yes they heard me. NOTHING!!!!
Meanwhile, the ranch manager lady at Escalante Ranch just so happened to be outside BEHIND
the horse stable (approximately 300 YARDS through the trees on land) attending to her horses and heard my screams and whistle. Her horses, she told me, even knew there was a problem. She said she saw me in the water and the raft behind me and just assumed they would get me but noticed that they were not attempting a rescue. Meanwhile, I must have swam about a 1/2 mile in the middle of the whitewater, having my eye on Griff's raft and the left shore. I even screamed, "I DON'T WANNA DIE OUT HERE!!!! HELP!!!!"
I was in the water for about 10-15 minutes when I was able to grab a strong branch on shore (I have no clue how I was able to drag my upside down boat and paddle to the shore) and I wasn't even out of the water when out of nowhere, they lady comes up and asked if I needed any help. I was shivering nearly uncontrollably. Griff and his girlfriend floated right on by in the middle the river WITHOUT STOPPING
and I barely heard something come out of his mouth which said, "DRY OUT"
(or something like that
The ranch lady and I walked my boat back to the horse stable where he gave me some warm clothes, iced tea and I was at the ranch for about 3 hours waiting for her husband to get back from work to take me to the take-out where my car was. THANKFULLY, my keys were in a zipped pocket of my dry pants, along with my 15-foot NRS straps. However, my 3 drybags and cooler were on Griff's boat. Early that evening, we drove around Dominguz Canyon looking for them at camp. They dropped me off at the take-out and I drove straight to the Delta County Sheriff's office where I talked to a wonderful deputy about the whole thing. My goal was to get in contact with a BLM law enforcement officer patrolling the river to me up with these assholes to get my stuff with charges of criminal negligence.
The sheriff's deputy got a hold of one who told me that he didn't think there was a law that requires members of your boat party to attempt a rescue and they are not required to do so. I stayed in a motel in Montrose (rolling in around 12:30am). The motel lady gave me some clothes. I went to the BLM office in Montrose to report the incident and they KICKED ME OUTTA THERE!!!!
This experience taught me to no longer trust people anymore. I know have grave fear of the river and I may even give up kayaking for good. I'm in the process of staring up a on-line interactive newspaper called gunnylines.com (it's on the web now; you just can't Google it yet but you can type it in on your address bar; will be advertising it in the local community in the very near future). I also want to add that Griff NEVER signed in at the put-in. He was the organizer of this trip. I'm also having second thoughts about requiring permits for certain sections of rivers. I'd like to see a law requiring head members of boat trips to attempt rescues of it's own members if they see them in trouble.
Thank you for letting me share.