Great thread. We've always been on spring trips where the release is in the 9-13K range, so doing the right to left pull into the duck pond appears to be easier than at 18 or 24K. Another point is that spring is usually green water and it's easier to read the water than when it's muddy as hell IMO. Great post from the GRCA, too.
For those of you suggesting that a kayaker could have paddled out with a rope. If you haven't tried it, it might seem like a doable thing. It's unblievable how much pressure the current puts on a 3/8'' line. I don't believe anyone I know could have made that move with a rope tied to their kayak from the left side. Probably from the right side either. That's a wide freakin' rapid and it would have taken 150-250' of rope. The TL made the right call IMO.
All of my 20+ years of kayaking experience was mostly steep creeks in MD, WV, NC, CA, WA, ID, CAN, etc. Happy to lounge on the raft with my wife these days.