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Old 04-28-2009   #11
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 342
Good comments... I just want to address the clothing issue. I didn't wear a drysuit, but I did have neoprene pants on, and two shirts under my dry top. I certainly could have been dressed a little better though. The dry bag on the legs just helped to conserve a little more heat.

Originally Posted by tj@cu View Post
Thanks for the writeup I'm glad your getting this info out to help others out. I completely agree with all of your assessments on what you did wrong and how people can learn from your mistakes. But I have to disagree with you about blaming the authors of a guidebook, without all of your mistakes (which I have personally made most of them) it sounds like you would have made it out fine. The one thing I would add to that list would be that you were not dressed for a swim, it sounds like you had a drytop on with shorts, it seems more practical on a long run to have a drysuit with extra layers in a drybag in case.

Thanks for posting this and I think this is a great discussion on being prepared in a wilderness situation. Glad to hear everyone made it out OK and that is the most important thing.


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Old 04-28-2009   #12
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,027
I'm really glad everybody made it out ok. You say that you take responsibility for your actions, but you'll see from those who have already posted and those who will post, that is not what comes across in your report. We've all made mistakes and take risks like this that maybe we shouldn't have, but there's a difference between blaming a guidebook and owning up to personal responsibility. It sure sounds like there is a lot of the former and much less of the latter in your account.

I have not run the narrows (though would like to some day), and don't recall exactly what was written in the guidebook, but whether or not the guidebook should be better written is beside the point. Accusations that the authors are arrogant and therefore sandbagged the run are unfounded as far as I can tell. Do you know them? I had the opportunity to boat and camp with Kyle last year and detected none of that. I have seen him post on this forum about how difficult it was and how many people they consulted in an attempt to apply fair ratings to all the runs.

We're all aware just how difficult it is to accurately rate rivers, but the remoteness and potential complications on this run are quite apparent with or without a guidebook. You haven't just entered Disneyland and been offered a map to all the rides. It's your responsibility to find the hazards on a run, not the guidebook's. I thought this was one of the principles of the whitewater community and one of the things we point to when officials try to decide what we should and shouldn't have access to.

Even if you were just hiking through such a canyon, much less running whitewater, one would expect that you'd have come more prepared.

I am glad that everything was alright, and I applaud your effort to inform other people to be more prepared, but I believe the manner in which you've chosen to do it belies your message and gives boaters a bad name.

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Old 04-28-2009   #13
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 141

Glad you made it out OK, and thanks for the trip report. Your story has reminded me of the potential consequences of getting in over my head. Taking a little dry fleece on a long run like that is always a good idea.

To those suggesting cemartin is only blaming the authors of WWOTSR, that's not what I saw in his post. I saw him take a lot of responsibility for things he could've done better. I think it's appropriate to point out the book's limitations on rating rapids. Calling the authors arrogant may be unnecessary, but a little frustration is understandable given the circumstances.
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Old 04-28-2009   #14
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 787
Wow, super epic. I'm so glad everyone is ok - that's the most important thing here.

I just re-learned an expedition paddling lesson I've already learned many times and almost had a bit of an epic myself (hiked my boat 4 miles into a run, realized it was ctracked and that I was not carrying my bichethane) so I think this is a good reminder on preparedness for all of us. A drysuit would have been key, a headlamp and boat patching stuff should live in everyones creekboat.

While I understand your frustation with WWSR given the experience you just had, I'd like to let them (authors) known that I, greatly appreciate the book and their efforts in compiling such a great wealth of information - I believe a vast majority of the paddling community would agree. The authors are certainly not arrogant sandbaggers but are exceptional paddlers and may bring that perspective, with the necessary cautions, to many of the descriptions I have read. Honestly, they have scared me off some runs because of detailed recognition of existing hazards or difficulty. As paddlers, we must always read guidebook descriptions with the understanding that runs and hazards change everytime there is a big flow, geological or rain event, mudslide, rockfall, downed trees, etc.

Anyway, again, glad you made it out!
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Old 04-28-2009   #15
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 393
Glad you're okay. As everyone has mentioned you made mistakes that all boaters have probably made at one time or another. Thanks for giving us the story.

You may re-read your post and consider editing some of the comments re: WWSR. It is certainly acceptable to disagree with the book and it is valuable to have your thoughts on the run as a publicly available resource. That said, a couple of your comments border on insulting and it sounds like you're placing a lot of the blame on the book.
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Old 04-28-2009   #16
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Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 02
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 183
Glad all are ok. Sounds horrible. As a UT local, I often take a lot of criticism from those I boat with out of state for our(UT) lack of great runs. We have a small handful of scenic runs with great water. Iritation is a major understatement at having one of them taken away(hopefully this plays out better than I suspect). As far as clasification, you gotta keep in mind its all relative. The reverberations of your groups general unpreparedness will haunt us(locals) long after you have gone on to greener pastures. Having re-read the rockies book, all I have to say is the hazards mentioned were mentioned.
In the future, I will take your pearls of wisdom with me while I hike the previously boatable narrows.
God Bless SKA Brewery-Sturgeon General
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Old 04-28-2009   #17
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 855

Man, what an epic couple of days... glad you made it out to paddle another day!!

I don't have much to add because KSC pretty much summed up what I was thinking. I was totally sympathetic with your story until I read this at the conclusion of your trip report: "but find your river beta from a less arrogant-sand bagging source if possible. Unfortunately he has the only river beta out thus far. Let’s change that by providing credible and reliable information since the secret is already out!"


The irony of your description of the authors is that they are just not even close to being arrogant. Why even say this? It is totally uncalled for. If you are ever able to put aside your misplaced judgment about the authors maybe you will someday understand that they have done a HUGE service to the boating community by spending YEARS (literally!!) of their time to put together a book of valuable information about the rivers. And, sure, the information in this book -- specifically rapids ratings -- can vary per user skills, per hazards, per weather, per changing flows, etc. But, taking into account these variable factors are your responsibility as a kayaker, NOT a guidebook.
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Old 04-28-2009   #18
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Telluride, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 175
Reading your list of the rivers you have run made me think of something I realized on our trip to Zion last weekend. Understanding the type of water you are paddling and the rating it is given is very important. Big water class III is way different than shallow colorado mank class III that I know you are familiar with. A run like the numbers doesn't compare to the same rated run in Zion, Temple of Sinawava. Both are IV but different styles of boulder garden rapids (you don't want to even flip in Satan's Staircase). My boat cracked that day in the narrows, the patch held for the run, however 7 more cracks occured paddling out. We got out every other rapid (my buddy's boat cracked too) to drain our boats. They gave us the taste of expedition paddling with a heavy stern that made for some extra hair on those rapids. I have to agree however, with the author's rating...yes the rapids have some consequence if you stuff it into a log jam, but all of the jams are visible from a read and run approach. You were boating at dusk which makes any current freaky and hard to run. The next day you waited all day and got into a boat at dusk again and what happened??? You missed your roll and took another swim. Now take a step back, think about running all those rapids in a normal dry state feeling like you haven't just hiked 6 hours with your boat...the guide book is correct. Your emotions and fear took over and you are doing as others have said, taking a crack at the authors. Thank you for sharing your story so we can all learn. I know I will pack a dry fleece and matches from now on. But please try to think about this from a clear mind, you had a huge day with a lot going on and lots of bad shit happened. It is an amazing run that hopefully will remain a gem for us boaters. Zion National Park takes great care of us boaters and we are extremely lucky to have a good relationship. The ranger at the desk says very firmly that rescue out of the Narrows is a MINIMUM 3 day ordeal. Well, in your case that would have been true had the group not lent you a boat. Hopefully next spring the NPS will allow camping in the Narrows for kayakers because it will prevent people from going in unprepared.
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Old 04-29-2009   #19
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128
WWSR excerpts:
class at 450 cfs: III (IV)
Character: scrape less
Remoteness: One way out, and it requires a boat
"Narrows is set over 1000 feet deep in a slot canyon of epic proportions.."
"...and an overnight run is highly recommended to prolong the experience in this committing environment."
"At lower flows (400-700 on the NF gauge) the top three miles will be horribly shallow and will contain a few likely portages for wood." "..the flow does not increase until .... six miles in."
"many will curse the authors continually, since at any normal flow the top of the run is going to suck."
"there isn't any chance for escape..."
"There are a few significant class III rapids and one that I remember in particular just below Kolob Creek where a dangerous log must be avoided."
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Old 04-29-2009   #20
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Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 06
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 450
constructive brainstorming????

This is quite a resume for multiple swims in a canyon I have navigated and believe to be class III. It is committing, I'll give you that, but still class III whitewater. Seriously, Gore? U-Animas? Piedra? Cat? How many boats have you gone through? (just pokin at you, take it easy)

What time did you put in? I am guessing it was already to late...I had an argument with NPS last year about wasting my time in the morning getting a permit. I would much rather have gotten it via fax or mail to put on earlier. Alas this was not an option so 8am then speedily to the put in we went. I also warned in my TR that you need to start EARLY, so does the book.

I think NPS needs to do fax permits, this would save travelers at least 3 hours.

I am not a real big fan of duckies for one reason...they usually contain novices. We had a duckie on our trip last year, he is a raft guide and easily navigated it but I must ask you how often that happens. I would not be opposed to restricting the narrows to whitewater kayaks some how.

perhaps a prerequisite for the narrows is a run through the temple down Satan's staircase? So if you immerge scared shitless but got it done then you can probably handle the narrows? I mention this cause it is awfully hard to qualify boaters. The Grand requires private permits to have one of a few rivers checked off by someone in the trip...this is sort of what I would look for.

Of course I would rather have it unregulated but I fear the regulation is coming now after the junk show this past week. Perhaps we can brainstorm some ideas to help manage the situation instead of hemorrhaging such a gem out of our repertoire.

I've never boated before, but I have posted a lot on Mountain Buzz!
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