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I'm curious what the "sketchiest" raft/cataraft set ups and/or persons lacking necessary safety or navigation equipment are that you've seen guys come down river? You know - you're out in your whitewater grade cataraft or raft and some yahoo comes down river seriously under gunned and you are questioning in your mind if he or she (or them) are seriously all there or if they just dropped off their suicide note(s)? Something that perhaps they require significant divine intervention to get them down the river if you know what I'm saying. Did you say anything to them, and what was their response?

Note: Sketchy boats are not to be confused with "poverty boats."
 

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The two that come to my mind both occured on the same class III section of the New River.

First one, we are camping and the sun is JUST about to set (20 mins untill dark) and I see a guy come down the river on a cheap little 7ft SOT that I've seen in walmart for $250. He had 10 miles to get to the next take out, no camping gear, no PFD, nothing that looked like he was carrying any gear and had some seatbelt type contraption strapped around him attached to his kayak. We try to wave him in and he just waves back and keeps going.

2nd time we were doing a high water float on the same section and had pulled over to lunch right below what is usually a mild set of waves but at this level was a monster wave train that ends in a pool and then goes into a set of ledges that creates some tremendous random breaking waves at the bottom. Essentially the gnarliest rapids we were going to see all day.

Well as we are eating we see two "kids" (12ish?) coming down the first set of waves in a pool-toy boat; hootin' and hollerin' and waving their paddles- which they had taken apart for some reason- around in circles up in the air. They of course just sailed right by us and got pushed into some rocks on the edge, where they tried to pull their completely water-filled raft up on it. We were about to set off after them and then noticed a guy in a sea kayak come down river and go to them....he appeared to be their "guardian". Well we floated by them and asked if everything was ok and they gave the thumbs up...but I am pretty sure the guy in the kayak was starting to realize what they were getting into, because you could see them watch us go through the next rapids...and I don't think they liked what they saw...we even waited to see the carnage (and help) at the bottom, but they never budged.

so...do YOU not have a story, just wanted to hear ours?
 

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I have seen numerous groups on the Smith River, in MT running walmart rafts with cheap kayak paddles and gear stowed in garbage bags shove off. It's not really a WW river, but does have some dangerous boils, undercuts, etc. and it's almost always colder than you think it will be. In 15 trips I've only not been snowed on 4 times, frequent T-storms and evening rains.

Most of the scenarios I relate above included at least one day of snow and several very cold or wet days. I have to believe most of the crew in these groups were near hypothermic more than once during their adventure... though I do not recall one instance where I actually saw them miserable or near danger...I've always been amazed what I see go down that river and rarely are there problems.
 

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A few years back, we came thru Needles Eye on the Upper C, saw a City Market grocery bag bobbing around on river left, and thought we'd go clean up a little trash. Picked it up, only to be hollered at by some folks on the other side of the river who had taken a PEDAL BOAT (yes, the kind you take out on a lake and pedal around with your feet) through, and oddly, had some troubles. That grocery bag was theirs - had their car keys and wallets in it! Gave them their fancy dry bag back, had a conversation regarding their online research that had told them that the Upper C was class zero, educated them a little about the river, and then took their passenger (who had broken her ankle in the rapid and refused to get back into the pedal boat) out to Radium, effectively ending our fun day on the river.
 

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Green river in WA. We come up on a big log jam with a couple tubes lodged in it and no one around. We start poking around, hoping not to find a body. Eventually a little ways down stream we find a guy shivering and all beat up. He'd separated from his group and ended up swimming under the log jam and thought he was going to die. We got him in the sun and warmed up by the time his drunk friends got down to us. We waited a while below the next rapid but took off after about 20 minutes when they didn't come down.


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Two come to mind right off. One was a paddle boat filled with gear, four kids and two adults out on the Middle Fork. They had so much stuff piled in the middle of the boat that the back couldn't see the front and vice versa. We were in the eddy at the bottom of Powerhouse and they came down pinwheeling through the rapid with a lot of furious and totally unsynchronized paddling that seem to have no effect on the trajectory of the raft. Smashing into rocks and heading to the large rock wall with no control. I thought there would be a minimum of a flip, vertical pin on the wall, swimmers ....oh yeah these guys all had the straddle the tube with one leg in the boat and one outside so I thought maybe there would be leg fractures.

Nothing. There must have done five or spins on the wall with complete lack of timing or control. No one seemed to be in charge and they floated out laughing and smiling with no apparent injuries of any kind. I had pulled two throw bags and my med kit watching these guys smash into the wall and thankfully had to use none of it.

Another group borrowed a boat for the Middle Fork. They started with three oars in the raft with two guys and had a kayaker along. They broke one oar in Murphs Hole ( very old cataract looking shafts that had left out in the sun) another in the wall in Powerhouse. They made it to Joe Bump with one oar and the kayak bumping them around into eddies and such. They ran down to our camp at Sheepeater desperate for an oar. We had one bent shaft and one blade with a broken off tip that we gave them. I heard later that they made it out just fine. To think of running 90 miles with no spare...would not put my mind at ease. And this was at six feet so you had to push and pull once in a while.
 

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One time in the late 70s, there was this family that put on on the Upper Sauk in northwest Washington. The water was glacial melt, and ripping high, continuous whitewater with at least one one IV-ish rapid at that level. Air temps in mid 50's, and no wetsuits. The outfitters had all moved trips to other rivers because of the high water. It was a crappy Udisco bucket boat, 2x4 wood frame and some kind of cheap wood oars, no spare, those cheap little screw in oar sockets, and some kind of clamp-on oarlocks. They had never been on any whitewater before. Horsecollar lifejackets, and four people in the 12 foot raft. One teen was in a sevylor ducky. They immediately swamped, and washed through a mile or two of horrendous rapids. before pinning on a rock on the bank. The mother, dad and the 10 year old daughter piled out of the boat before it washed on down the river with the two teen boys. The ducky paddler had jumped into the raft just before it washed down river, and tried to row but didn;t really have a clue. A swim would have had a good chance of being fatal, if just from hypothermia. The mother developed a lifelong panic disorder, and won't even get on a ferry boat to this day. The teens survived somehow, with the out of control raft washing past log jams, and limbo-ing under sweepers. The one in the ducky went on, took guide training and worked in the northwest and Southwest as a boatman and Outward Bound instructor. However,thinking about that Sauk trip still makes him break out in a cold sweat 30-plus years later. God looks after fools, I suppose.
 

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Tuber on Upper Mish!

I was coming home from a fishing trip on the Cache La Poudre River last saturday. I was driving along the "Upper Mishawaka" stretch of the river (iii/iv) and saw this guy on one of those inflatable tubes kinda like the ones that get pulled behind ski boats...He was barely hanging on and just above the larger rapids of the run (up river of the tunnel). There were folks that had pulled over to assist...otherwise I would have felt the need to do something...not that there was much I could have done other than find someone with a landline to call for help...I didn't see any news stories about drowned tubers that night so I am hoping he got out ok...

sketchy...
 

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Heading for the bottom

Hmm, the sketchiest starts pretty low...

Two high schoolers in tubes with suits and sunglasses putting in right above a huge low head dam at high flood stage on the Guadalupe (talked them out of it thank god)

Adventure racers tweaking on energy gel and red bull hopping into ik's for the first time after running, biking and speed rapping down the canyon. The first move I saw was some guy grabbing the paddle way to one side and whiffing on his first strokes. Amazing they all made it out ok

Pic of Banks and Eckardt squaring up for a westwater run in thin rubber and vuarnets (no offense guys)...

A lot of us probably got into this doing something now considered pretty marginal in hindsight (both equipment and judgment-wise) - not condoning it but folks looking for excitement have been doing that for a long long time.
 

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Explorer 200

You may have heard of a fine little vessel called the Explorer 200. A dear friend of mine has several class 4/4+ runs under his belt in that puppy. Upper Ocoee and Upper Gauley for sure, although he has probably added to the list by now.
 

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Hi,

Actual story. A couple of folks drifted into the Westwater ranger station a few years ago in the raft depicted in the photo. Yes, that is styrofoam...

They had come down from Grand Junction, and told us they intended on running both Westwater and Cataract Canyon, on the way to some destination on Lake Powell.

Needless to say, they went no further.

FWIW.

Rich Phillips
 

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Great cold weather gear for the upper Clackamas, ski jacket, hat, gloves & blue jeans. To keep the feet dry they used baggies and duct tape. I saw this on a January run, it was snowing so the ski jacket made some sense. Hey they did have pfd's
 

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My favs

Sandy River Dodge to Lewis and Clark Park, (like 20 miles?) a young couple in a 16' Coleman canoe. Orange cheap PFD's, no flotation, cheap plastic paddles. 2 point pinned on the rapid leaving the put in. He wouldn't listen to a damn word I told him. We rescued them and got them on shore river right, and left their canoe on river left. (On the island right above Pipeline)
Same summer, about a month later. North Santiam at Packsaddle park. a college couple, uninformed but he listened. They were planning on going down to Mehama bridge, 15 miles away, then bike back to their truck. 16' Grumman aluminum canoe, similar equipment.
I told them there were a few rapids they should at least scout, and most likely portage. We invited them to stay in our group for the day, and they did. We got them around all of the big rapids, and they took out with us at Mill City and we gave them a lift back to the truck. We took out at like 7 pm that trip, and they would have had 8 more miles to go, and a bike ride after that :shock:
 

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Every time I see a Boise Army Navy rental boat at the Staircase put in, there will be carnage and I'll spend my time rescuing, then lecturing. Every. Time.
 

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Mine?

Hahahaha.... hindsight.....
Night rafting down the steamboat town run in the high runoff of the 08 season. We had a shitty Sea Eagle or maybe even worse a Stansport or Sevylor 4 man (400 lbs- I don't know what "man" weighs a hundred pounds these days) raft loaded up with 6 people (two girls, a little person, and three men with too much testosterone), an old school Maglite, a failing head lamp, and of course a case of PBR. As you can imagine we had to bail out a few times down the run. Not to mention there was only one of us not wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, it was, afterall, midnight in Steamboat in May on the river.... :eek: oops. Good times though..... haven't we all had our moments?
 

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Boats on private trips rowed by people proclaiming and announcing, "I'm a raft guide" not on their daily "forward 2" run.
 

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Huh.
Camped at the Bench and these two guys float by in a duckie. Horse collar jackets, floor torn out of the boat, getting dark and rainy.

Turns out they launched at the bridge near Kremling, so yeah they ran Gore canyon. Some wit in town told them that was the launch point for the "mellow float" to state bridge.

Told them they should probably land at Rancho and get a ride to State Bridge. They declined hot drinks, better jackets, etc. They just wanted to keep going. never did hear did they make it.
 

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Best one I've seen was group of 12/teeners putting in at Shoshone running 4 grand. They had an assortment of Walmart tubes, one of them a fishing style float tube(where your legs dangle in the water) no PDFs, and the kid in the fishing tube didn't know how to swim. Wish they had go pros.... Other than that any weekend on the upper C is booze fueled amature hour.


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