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Old 04-29-2009   #21
 
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Silverdale, Washington
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Glad you came out okay, but your description seems to match what I'd expect based on the description in WWOTSR. Hell of an epic weekend, and while I think it's bad to say the authers are arrogant, props for owning up to your mistakes.

rg, I know there was a lot to read so I can see how you missed it, but he said they put on 10:30ish, which by your estimate and the book, it's definitely too late.
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Old 04-29-2009   #22
KDT
 
Telluride, Colorado
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Don't know if it matters or not but we were able to get our permit for running Temple Thurs. and our permit for Narrows Fri. both on thurs. morning. It made a big difference. I think we ended up putting in around 8:00 for the narrows. And if we were to do it again I'd try an earlier start (maybe 6-6:30?) and just plan on hiking the first 6-8 miles to the confluence. If you get lucky and have enough flow to float then great, otherwise it gets you to the confluence at a reasonable time and you could rest a bit before starting the lower section.

Gotta say I agree with RG- I was surprised that you had such a tough time on the narrows with the resume that you listed. I took some swims in there (a big part because i was drained from the morning) but I definitely am not carrying some of the runs you listed in my history. I do think it may also have been circumstantial for you as well. Which is why I would still classify this run as a III+ maybe with a little IV- thrown in for good measure. If you run those rapids fresh and not at dusk then it's a very different river than if you do it after getting a late start, a long day and running into the dark.
Compare the Narrows to Temple which is definitely a solid IV+ run. The commitment level is lower due to it being roadside and not inside 1000 ft canyon walls but it is a much harder and more dangerous run. And is much more painful if you swim (trust me).

Hopefully other boaters here will learn from the experiences posted by everyone in this scenario. Not just for the narrows, but for any "expedition" style run. The boy scouts got it right- be prepared.

Many of your points are valid and hopefully you will learn from your experiences but you have to understand where people are coming from when they doubt you're truly taking responsibility for what happened based on your comments about the authors of the book. It definitely comes off as laying blame on them. I'm not going to say that they're always right or the last word on any run (don't think they'd say that either). But i will say that, for this run, i think they provided a fairly accurate description of what to expect. Did I think the upper section would be more actual floating and paddling as opposed to scraping knuckles and blades and dragging my ass down a river? Yep. But they pretty much told you what to expect there. They told you about wood and to be aware of that. They suggested two days (not their fault the park staff wasn't allowing it this weekend). At the end of the day it is a "GUIDE" book. It's to aid and inform you about runs. That doesn't mean that everything you're going to encounter will be written there. But they did seem to instill the danger and remoteness of the run and then the rangers at the BC desk were telling everyone who registered for a permit to understand what they were getting themselves into. That it could take upwards of 6 hrs. to get to the confluence. That it was 3 days rescue minimum. The guy next to us when we got our permits on the second day basically blew off the ranger and pretty much took the attitude of "we know what we're doing. Just give me the permit." I think they spent the night in the canyon.

Being a kayaker (whitewater boater in general) means that YOU are taking responsibility for your own safety based on your ability. We're not in a controlled area with paid patrollers watching all the conditions. It's not a theme park ride. It's nature and inherently changing and uncontrolled. I'm not directing this last part specifically at you but it seems that some people forget that what we do is dangerous. People seem to get so lost in the fun side (which is good) that they lose sight of the danger side (which is bad). Rivers have the power take an easy class II situation and turn it into an emergency situation in the blink of an eye.
Sorry to rant but i think people need to keep some of this in mind and realize that it is your job out there to save your own ass and those with you. Do not assume that someone else will just come to your rescue.

After saying all of that, I think one of the things that would have made this weekend turn out differently would have been allowing camping in the narrows as long as there was no serious threat of flash floods. I think more people would have been more prepared and could have possibly altered the outcome of all of this.
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Old 04-29-2009   #23
 
Park City, Utah
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Camping

I don't think the answer is to allow camping. I do think they will compile a list of required gear for every party. It does sound like a start time of 7AM is a must. It does sound like same day permits are not an option, and that possible they could require a permit be picked up the day before with the start time a big part of the discussion.

I had run alot of rivers before I adjusted my style in remote areas. The risks I now take in the middle of nowhere are very different from those I take on a roadside run.

Your response was well written. To blame the aurthor of the only guide book is probably not the best choice. That said, if the guide book wsn't out there, they would have had one group of locals who had been there and done that, and there would not have been the issues.

In my crew, one would be getting you out and one would get the boat. We would of swam you to the boat as the only viable option. I don't think you made a bad choice, just a different one than I would have lobbied for. I couldn't in good conscions leave another pertson in a slot knowing I might nevere see them again. i would know I could get you out if you made a controlled swim. Also, when I hike in slot canyons I always throw a full length wet suit in the back pack. If their is a flash and I have to swim, I want extra skin.

Glad everyone is okay. I
f anyone knows what the mindset of the park rangers is, I would like to write them a letter? I would like an idea of what they are thinking before I try to open a negotiation.
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Old 04-29-2009   #24
 
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Bozeman, Montana
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okey why would we need a list of compiled gear. what happened to being independantly self preparred. we are kayakers. we are explorers of new frontiers. if they have to compile a list for us do you really think they think we can handle possible epics in a vertical wall canyon? yeah right we can'n't pack our own gear. and who doesn't bring a lighter on a run with water and hypothermia is a possible facter? come on cemartin for all those runs you should have been thinking more about possible difficulties than you were.
murphies law will bite you in the ass damn near everytime.
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Old 04-29-2009   #25
 
Boulder, Colorado
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I was paddling with cemartin and here's some clarification on what happened.

First of all, it was not dusk. Probably around 5-5:30pm, giving us enough time to get out, if only barely. The canyon was not particularly dark, and the log was clearly visible to both me and my brother.

Second, I was in the back, and did not go over the log. I saw cemartin stuck on the log and eddied out on the right, and jumped out of my boat so I could throw him a rope. He then flushed under, leaving only one boater to collect either him or his boat, as I could not set up right to boof over that log and had to portage. We then planned on getting back still that day to contact search and rescue, but ran into another group that needed assistance.

I am pretty well acquainted with the search and rescue guys after last weekend. They did a great job performing unfamiliar operations and getting everything together as quickly and effectively as possible. I'd say they did everything to perfection.

They did not sound like they had any intention of leaving the Zion Narrows closed to kayaking. They closed Kolob Canyon to hiking/rappelling a few years ago for the same reason after several people died, but opened it up afterwards. I would expect you can all boat this when it comes up next year, so chill out a little maybe?
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Old 04-29-2009   #26
 
Park City, Utah
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Casper,

Why do you always have to be such a punk?

The suggested list is damage control. We boaters screwed up a good thing by not self policing enough. Now we boaters need to demonstrate why this won't happen again.

Is there anything in life that you are not the foremost expert on?
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Old 04-29-2009   #27
 
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Bozeman, Montana
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not policing our self, what happen to self control. i personally don't run everydrop and i know the authors haven't run everydrop in the world and it isn't because somebody told them not to run it?
so you want a bunch of non kayaking rangers to do the policing for us? bright idea, turn it into yellowstone.

how would a required list of gear as a result of what happened, when the gear should have already been in effect? be in positive light to us kayakers. makes us look like we think its disney land.

the log situation was unfortunate but not unavoidable.
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Old 04-29-2009   #28
 
Park City, Utah
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Sometimes you have to work with the man rather than against him.

When you have some real life experience and move out of your parents basement, you might understand. Maybe even a girlfriend to temper the testosterone.

What we are dealing with now is Yellowstone. We have to give them a reason to not say no more boating.

They spent a ton of money on a helicopter rescue this weekend. Now we need to sell them on why it won't happen again.
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Old 04-29-2009   #29
 
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It sounds like fatigue played a big roll in these events, we must all remember that this is the start of the season we are not in as good of shape as we were in august. Also you may have run harder stuff in years past but for most it seems that this was the first run of the year, I know I always feel a little off the first day or two.
I wouldn't have a problem with them making you get the permit the day before you put on, maybe also be able to get one online/over the phone/fax.
-Tom
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Old 04-29-2009   #30
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What was wrong with allowing camping? They have campsites there for that reason. I understand the flash flood danger but that danger is there throughout the whole summer. It's something they have allowed in the past. It would have changed this run considerably.
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