Originally Posted by Tom R Chamberlain
Hey folks, just a heads up for anyone going to run the Ledges section of the San Miguel. Today we had two near drownings at the low head dam. For those of you who donít know this section there is a low head dam on this run. There is a warning sign that tells you to run it river left. The left side is currently blocked by a bunch of wood. You can tuck in behind the wood and still run left, but you only get two or three paddle strokes to break through the hydraulic. It doesnít seem to be a problem with rafts, but out of the 8 kayakers and 1 ducky we saw run it today, two of them nearly died. They got pulled back into the roller and had long terrible swims that would have been fatal without throw ropes from the bank. The hole is river wide and terminal. It will keep swimmers and anything that floats indefinitely. I donít know if this is only a danger at the current level, or if it is always that bad. The river was up, but didnít seem that high. Please be careful and just portage the damn thing!
If you have to rope someone out, the spot to do from it is river right. Throw from the concrete platform next to the hole, then run down stream with the rope dragging the victim out along the river right bank.
Otherwise the ledges is an awesome play run right now.
Take care out there.
"I used to be a lifeguard - 'till some blue kid got me fired."
I'm glad you put this post on here Tom, it is a very dangerous feature and is the subject of several Search and Rescue discussions and missions.
This low head dam is dangerous at all levels
, as is any low head dam. Though it becomes easier to break the boil at lower flows, it is still a drowning machine.
For anyone continuing past the green truss bridge to Naturita or the confluence with the Dolores there is another low
head dam that I hear you can run on river right. Though I have never seen it since I have never done this section. This second one has no signage upstream of it so beware.
The local whitewater group www.sanmiguelwhitewater.org - Welcome to the San Miguel Whitewater Association webpage!
is working to improve signage on these low-head dams. please email Cary Mackey if you have other comments that you think the local whitewater club should hear.
Thanks for your post Tom.