Lost Raft on Eagle River
I rafted campground last night (7/13) around 8pm. Water was/is still high (5.4ft). There is a small logjam on river left after the main rapid. Three kayakers, Jim and a couple other guys, were also out enjoying the sunny weather and high water. Campground rapid was fun with all kinds of options.
When I was gearing down at the take-out, a couple ladies asked me if I had seen a raft with two guys. Apparently they put-in up by the Visitor’s Center and were planning on running down to the campground. I had not seen them, nor had Jim and the other kayakers. I was bumming a ride from the kayakers when we noticed a small, upside down raft rapidly floating downriver. Nobody was with the raft, so we all grabbed our rescue gear and sprinted up to the campground rapid. At the bottom of the rapid there was one guy on the left bank and his buddy clinging to the partially submerged logjam on river left about 30 feet off the bank; both were wearing flimsy PFDs, shorts, and t-shirts and had flipped their raft at the top of campground rapid. After evaluating the scene, Jim took the lead and calmly explained to the guy how he wanted him to hold the rope; then made a nice toss with a throw bag; we pulled in the slack; and, with three guys on the rope, he hung on and was pendulumed to the bank. I grabbed a hold of him and yanked him on the shore. He was shaken up and very cold, but otherwise ok.
These “accidents” are becoming increasingly common on this stretch of river. People need to make sure not only to scout, but also make sure you have a suitable whitewater boat, be dressed to swim, and have self-rescue abilities and gear. I am guilty of doing familiar class III rapids in shorts; however, when Eagle River is flowing high, it can be extremely dangerous, and in my opinion all boaters should be wearing drysuits and helmets. I’m not trying to humiliate these guys. I have certainly made my fair share of mistakes on rivers over the last 15 years (including Eagle River), but it seems like this stretch of river, even with a sign, continues to take a lot of people by surprise.
If anyone finds a small raft on Lower Eagle River let me know, for I am sure these guys would be stoked to get their boat back.
Great rescue response...great information...great attitude within your post.
...and the floater gets to live to see his grandkids.
Good on ya all!
Good going guys... plus an informative, well written post.