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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We had a bit of a humbling experience this weekend. We raft the Little Salmon every year in Riggins the first week of May during the rodeo. The stretch we do is usually around 18 miles, but we pulled out after a mile and a half. We weren't hitting the lines we wanted because the river was pushing us around. It had poured rain all night on Friday and we went the next morning. We weren't sure of the flows because the gauge wasn't working right before we left (at least it wasn't showing up on American Whitewater or the USGS sites), we just knew it spiked a bunch from the rain.

We've done this section for years and while it's a continuous class III/IV run, we have never felt like we couldn't get to where we wanted, until this weekend. After a brief swim from one of the paddlers we re-evaluated and luckily we were all on the same page and decided to end our run, we just had to get to the road side of the river. A big thanks to Bob for letting us go through his property and giving us a ride.

The swim was around the 7:00 mark if you don't want to watch the whole video.


Here's what last year looked like if you want a comparison.



So when did you get in a little over your head and get humbled on the river?
 

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Discretion is the better part of valor, and you lived to boat tomorrow.

Every time I have an unplanned out-of-boat incident that precipitates a bootie beer, I've been humbled.
Swim in Eagle Pack Bridge rapid on the Lochsa in about 2011, first swim in 15 years of kayaking. Missed breakfast, had not enough blood sugar and bonked.
Another raft flip on the Lochsa in 2010 at 10' in Termination. Humbled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Discretion is the better part of valor, and you lived to boat tomorrow.

Every time I have an unplanned out-of-boat incident that precipitates a bootie beer, I've been humbled.
Swim in Eagle Pack Bridge rapid on the Lochsa in about 2011, first swim in 15 years of kayaking. Missed breakfast, had not enough blood sugar and bonked.
Another raft flip on the Lochsa in 2010 at 10' in Termination. Humbled.
Definitely, I figured my wife should be able to celebrate Mother's Day the next day so it wasn't worth it. Lochsa swims can get nasty real quick and would definitely be humbling.
 

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Thanks for sharing. I got humbled on the Middle Fork Eel river in California on a trip I shouldn’t have gone on. Normally we’d run it from 1500-7500, but the info we had said 10k was the upper limit. The water was 11500, so we thought, “close enough”. We had drysuits, good pfds, helmets, swiftwater rescue - so we’re good right?

Immediately after launching we found ourselves in VERY pushy water. It was all I could do to keep the boat on a safe track. When we got to one of the few class IIIs, Island Mountain, we scouted and couldn’t believe how much bigger the rapids were. However, you are able to scout very well from up high and we ran it clean. The problem is that the next rapid, Kekawaka Falls (normally II/III) has no scout and is around a sharp corner. Your boat scout is very quick! The falls had developed a pour-over from damn near right to left. A tiny sneak on river right was all there was. The boats in front of me had figured this out and saw me come around the corner, fresh off my high from running the last one clean. The furiously signaled me to go river right, but it was to late. With no options left, I squared up the boat to the falls and ran it. Initially, I thought we had made it! A second later the hydraulic pulled me straight backward like a tractor beam, spun the boat sideways and I was ejected from the boat! The swim was complete beat down.

As I came up, I saw that my buddy had somehow stayed in the boat and it had not flipped. He managed to get it under control, but there was a yard sale and me floating down towards more rapids. Bob Stanley, a river ranger on the T, was just down below in his brand new Wing raft and quickly pulled me in as he had set a safety.

Yeah, I guess it wasn’t that bad, but it’s very remote and rescue is on yourself. Decisions have to be made quickly, and at that point and I kept thinking - we probably shouldn’t have launched at those flows. I could have waited a week for better flows. We learn best when we’re honest and take criticism.
 

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Back in '74 I was in AK for a couple of summers. Had a cheapo plastic raft - no PFD or other gear. A buddy ( Ray Hodge) and I were driving up the Kenai and saw a section of a river that looked fun,so being 18 young and dumb decided to put in without a full scout. I'd grown up on the Arkansas and had run whitewater all my life so wasn't too concerned. Turns out it was called Six Mile creek and a solid class IV. Entered a Gorge we didn't know about and promptly swam. Should have died but got really lucky and was strong and luckily knew how to swim whitewater. Never ran another river without knowing what was there
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yeah, I guess it wasn’t that bad, but it’s very remote and rescue is on yourself. Decisions have to be made quickly, and at that point and I kept thinking - we probably shouldn’t have launched at those flows. I could have waited a week for better flows. We learn best when we’re honest and take criticism.
Glad you made it out. I've definitely had a couple times where I thought after the fact, we probably shouldn't have launched at those flows. Definitely a good learning experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Back in '74 I was in AK for a couple of summers. Had a cheapo plastic raft - no PFD or other gear. A buddy ( Ray Hodge) and I were driving up the Kenai and saw a section of a river that looked fun,so being 18 young and dumb decided to put in without a full scout. I'd grown up on the Arkansas and had run whitewater all my life so wasn't too concerned. Turns out it was called Six Mile creek and a solid class IV. Entered a Gorge we didn't know about and promptly swam. Should have died but got really lucky and was strong and luckily knew how to swim whitewater. Never ran another river without knowing what was there
There is some wisdom that comes with age. If I was 18 on this trip I don't think we would have pulled out.
 

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Back in the days when my kayaking skills were peaking, I agreed to join my girlfriend at the time and a few other local boaters on the Lake George to Cheesman section of the S. Platte. The first half of the day was a blur of tight slots, whitewater filled chutes, must make moves and near terror. After miraculously making it to the bottom of some beast of a rapid, I recognized I had no business being there, so I hiked the rest of the way out. I credit that big slice of humble pie with the helping me live through my late 20s/30s and still be boating today.
 

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I swam Royal Gorge (ARK) somewhere around 5800 - 6k CFS a few season back. I came off the couch from loosing the season prior due to back surgery, and thought it would be like riding a bike. Hell, I had been hardboating for well over a decade at this point with stouter runs on the resume. I had been in there once before at a slightly lower level and figured I still had it... A lateral blew me up, and I couldn't hit my roll. I came out of the boat and swam river right before the narrows area. My two buddies went for my boat... I proceeded to hike to where it walled out, and as suspected there was no boat. Suited back up and jumped in to swim to river left (crew was waaayyy downstream at this point). I made my 2nd mark on the left bank and proceeded to hike around 6 mi. out on the train tracks. I knew if I didn't hit my 3rd spot on the left bank it was going to be a horrible swim through the narrows w/o a boat...

I got to the take out, and no buddies were around with my truck. They had gone back in to look for me, and I hadn't stayed put... borrowed some random dudes phone, and met back up with them. Strange dude hugs for sure when we met back up as we were against daylight at this point. They were about 30min. out from calling in search & rescue on me. They asked if I had my boat that they had stashed about a 1mi. upstream... I did not... We hiked back up and got the boat, and I was exhausted to the point of having to have a buddy paddle my boat out.

Humble pie was served up cold and stout that day... Several lesson learned for sure... the irony is that morning we got moving late and almost bailed on that lap. I convinced the crew it would be a good story to tell about getting in there at that level. Little did I realize that hung over morning I would become the story that would be told... I now do family shit on Father's day ILO of running highwater without them... :LOL: Proceeded to spend a bunch of time in my playboat dialing my roll back in at the playpark and letting the high runoff come down following that swim. Took a bit to get over the head game on that swim more so than previous aquaman adventures.
 

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Some background. Only 5 or so trips rowing a boat, but hey, it takes 33 years to win a Grand Permit, right? So I better start entering the lottery...won a trip my first try for 2021. Wayyyy in over my head!

I ended up falling out in Crystal. Got knocked off the side on my down stream ferry and right into Crystal hole, hydraulics shipped my right oar and snapped it and the spare off. That force knocked me out and I swam to the island, but my boat and passengers eddied out with out issue. LOL Then I jumped back in for another swim to get picked up by another boat. Put me on edge for the rest of the big rapids, especially Lava...for no good reason.

Now if we want to talk about IKs....They might still have that bone headed flip in Zoom Flume on the website.
 

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Did Desolation Canyon with a buddy during peak flow (22k) that year (2017) in small, narrow cats that in hindsight were def not rigged to flip. Scouted everything major, but the water was real pushy and there were still some surprises...like almost getting pinned and rolled against the boiling left wall trying to sneak Steer Ridge. We camped just above Wire Fence, after a tricky run through Joe Hutch...where I probably psyched myself out from too much time spent there staring at the huge hole among hearing the rapid roar all night. Low and behold, the next morning I rowed apprehensively slow into it and stalled on the huge standing wave, flipping the boat and desperately trying to right things before swimming right into Three Fords. Good times.
 

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Looks pushy for sure.

About 7 or 8 years ago I was paddling a section of the upper Red Deer river in Alberta that I hadn't done before.

I actually did a different section the day before with a paddle crew of 5 and it was spicy but manageable.

The next day the river almost doubled overnight and I came around a blind corner on a fast and pushy river to see this feature... a river wide flat ledge but about 4 times as much water in it as this pic. We had no time to try to find the best line but honestly the entire thing was basically a raging recirculation.

When I saw the feature I screamed at everyone to paddle hard and we launched over the drop and ALMOST cleared the recirculation... but it dragged us back in and didn't flip the boat but we pitched 4 out of 5 Including me.

We swam for a while over some smaller broken ledges and finally got everyone back in the boat. We were all soaked and pretty cold so agreed to pull the plug but we still had to get a ways down to where the road came close to the river.

In that last stretch I was screaming commands and my relatively rookie crew were paddling gods! We made some moves that were very impressive... fear and adrenaline I guess!

When we saw the road we pulled over and dragged the boat up through the woods and I hitch hiked back to my truck.

Humbling for sure but also a lot of fun in retrospect.

As you can see from the pic, at low flows it's a walk in the park.

I'll add that I didn't flip or lose a passenger on the Grand the year before but this one got me.

Water Boat Sky Cloud Watercraft
 

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I'll admit I was a noob. Colorado River on the Moab daily @ 22k cfs Had the whole fam in the 13.5' old NRS boat. Everything was fine until I started to follow the commercial paddle boat which was going for the 'sporty' line against the cliff wall. I realized too late I didn't want that line and it was too late to take the inside line. I hit a mid-river curler head on in a smaller boat with 4 people. I fell out, but the whole family stayed in the boat :rolleyes:. I lost a $300 oar and submerged a brand new iphone ($$$) Lesson learned...when with the family, take the easy line on new water and have oar tethers on at all times.
 
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When I left my spleen on a rock. Trip report is available on AW and I’m a case study for trauma conferences. If you push it long enough you’ll get the opportunity to witness some shit, sometime from the first person.
Stay safe and boat smart.
 

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Did Desolation Canyon with a buddy during peak flow (22k) that year (2017) in small, narrow cats that in hindsight were def not rigged to flip. Scouted everything major, but the water was real pushy and there were still some surprises...like almost getting pinned and rolled against the boiling left wall trying to sneak Steer Ridge. We camped just above Wire Fence, after a tricky run through Joe Hutch...where I probably psyched myself out from too much time spent there staring at the huge hole among hearing the rapid roar all night. Low and behold, the next morning I rowed apprehensively slow into it and stalled on the huge standing wave, flipping the boat and desperately trying to right things before swimming right into Three Fords. Good times.

Hmmmm... did you camp with a group from CO and AZ on that trip?
 

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Poudre 5.5' Paddle raft. Carnage at 3 Way. (Not us, but 2 other boats with swimmers everywhere.) Took out. Ran Bridges instead. Short and sweet.
And numerous other adventures over the years. The river has a way of changing my perspective.
Be safe and smart.
 
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