Disturbing run: Flash flood on Clear Creek of the Ark - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-05-2010   #1
Buena Vista/Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 68
Disturbing run: Flash flood on Clear Creek of the Ark

Hey folks,
my good friend Tom and I put in on Clear Creek last night. We noticed it was high at the put-in, and had a very bad sense, but we didn't vocalize our feelings clear enough to each other. We should had much better communication, and used the obvious judgment to turn away. We didn't, and that's something to think about. Turns out we were on it with about 800 to 1000 cfs. We both had very nearly died, with seperate epic swims that involved near drownings, and self rescues involving branches, cliff walls, and horrifing swims. We both thought the other might be dead. Barely catching the last few inches of a branch with my hands with the only life I had left in me, saved my life by a second. Tom later puked out over a gallon of water, and was taken to the hospital to be checked out. All gear was lost. One boat was recovered later. What I saw in there was really bad, and wrong. What I paddled through in the first gorge, and swam through later, was very disturbing. There were also trees coming down that brown colored creek that were large enough to easily kill a person upon impact, and at some point they were coming down in quantity to pass me every few seconds. Just a story to learn from. In case you are in the area, here is the gear we lost in there: A Prijon Kompressor Kayak, a Prijon carbon fiber paddle, both with the name of Sammer Elias on them; A Blue Pool Paddle with red tips with the name of Tom Doherty on it.

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Old 06-05-2010   #2
Arkansas during the off-season Nomadic during the summers! :), Arkansas & Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 950
Jesus...glad to hear you're ok.
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Old 06-05-2010   #3
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,824
you should alert local rescue official about the missing gear. What section were you on?

(seven two 0)-298-2242
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Old 06-05-2010   #4
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 860
Holy crap. I'm glad you are both ok. I almost went up there last night, but my plans fell through.

I understand about having that 'very bad sense' feeling. A few years back, while scouting the cauldron on Lake Creek, I had this same feeling. I knew it was higher, but ended up ignoring my initial gut instinct that was screaming, "DON'T RUN IT!!!!" Well, I decided to run it, and needless to say, I learned a few things that night after taking a horrible 'I almost just met my maker' swim. The biggest lesson was to never allow myself to ignore my initial gut feeling. I have walked many rapids since this learning experience, partly due to getting my head game back, and partly due to listening to my gut.

The next time I go up there I will keep my eyes open for your gear. And it sounds like we locals might need to check out any new wood hazards.
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Old 06-05-2010   #5
The next zone, .
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,200
It sounds like you guys had the epic in there.. I have been in there at similar levels or made the same mistake and can say that it was one of the scariest boating expirences of my life..

A few of us came with in a inch of going up there last night but the sweetness of the play wave here in BV kept us in town..

After talkin with Tom this am I am glad to hear that you both made it out..

Also a good reminder that this run can turn into a nightmare if the flows get above 600cfs.. I have a spot at the put in that if the water is above it I will walk back to the truck.

Some wood pry moved around up there with the 1000 cfs spike - the next crew in there could well run into some new wood so be on the look out!!
"I feel better than any other time when I am in the mountains and uh I cant explain it ya know...." - Shawn Farmer..........
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Old 06-05-2010   #6
Park City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1
I heard that a red creek boat was spotted across from Clear Creek Ranch (? the ranch below Clear Creek). They said that it looked like it had been washed up on shore. Maybe it's yours? Good luck!!
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Old 06-05-2010   #7
Missoula, Missoula, MT
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 23
Wow...scary stuff, lose that battle, but don't lose the lesson! Glad you guys made it out ok, hope you recover your gear.
In Robert Dinero's words..."if there's ever any doubt, there is NO doubt"
Trust your gut!
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Old 06-05-2010   #8
Longmont, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 25
Damn Sammer, glad to hear you're ok!

edit: and if you want to step it down to some mere mortal open boat stuff for awhile, let us know
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Old 06-05-2010   #9
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Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 63
I am glad you all are ok.

I plan on hiking some of that later this summer and will keep my eye out. I lost a werner bent shaft shogun in their a week ago. It doesn't have my name on it and I want it back...
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Old 06-06-2010   #10
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 60
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I'm glad your ok sammer, that sounds scary. I got your message and may have joined if i wasn't in the process of canceling a middle fork salmon trip (over 8.5'!). Hope your gear shows up and i'm glad everyone made it out ok.
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