Regrettfully I have to report an unfortunate circumstance that happenned today around 1pm. A crew of 4 kayakers started just before another group of 3. The first group started at 12:15 pm. The second group started shortly after, but an exact time is unknown. The flow was 450cfs. The first group made the run without a hitch and stopped at every rapid to look for new wood and scout even though they were veterans of the run.
A friend of the first group approached us at the take out and relayed the message that a kayaker was missing in the gorge. We scrambled safety gear and headed up. Search and rescue arrived just as we were going up. They responded within five minutes. Two of us were chosen to help up top. After searching both sides of the gorge for about 30 minutes a helicopter arrived and began looking. Rope teams, police, search and rescue, fire, and forest service law enforcement were all there doing what they could.
After directing them to the scene, the boat and paddle were found but no kayaker. The boat flushed down after three hours of being stuck in the entrance falls pool, above trashcan. No kayaker has been found as of 6:30 pm and is now presumed gone.
The kayakers in the group explained the scenario. The swimmer swam through trashcan after numerous attempts to save him from the pool at entrance falls where he pulled. They got in their boats to try and catch him in the pool before pick-up-sticks, but he had disappeared. they did not see him for the rest of their quick exit through the gorge.
The kayaker was Adam. I do not know much about Adam except that he was from boulder.
I am incredibly sorry to report this, but the group felt that since the family was notified it would be prudent to tell friends. I do not want to give a last name and will leave that to someone who knew him much better than myself.
I was told that Adam was an expert kayaker with the skills to handle Vallecito. It was his first time down and may not have scouted the gorge. I think that he respected the power of the river just as much as anyone could from the way he talked about the run at the put-in and seemed confident. I think that there was a combination of many uncontrolable and controlable things that lead to this disaster.
Our discussion this afternoon was surrounded in circumstance, but the main theme was just that anything can go wrong at any time. Please be ready for it. Do your homework if you are going to run something of this caliber at this level of water. This is serious and could change everything. I don't want anyone to feel this sadness for the loss of such a life. I cannot imagine what his good friends and family feel.
His friend at the scene felt that this post would help keep other people from finding themselves in this position and all of us agreed. Please keep this in your mind next time you are on the water. Be safe, Johnny