The Ten Mile Creek section of the EelRiver is a long run through the rugged Coast Mountains of California. Rated a Class IV at normal flows, it has an evil reputation for rising quickly after winter rains. In this particular instance two very experienced Bay-area paddlers set out to run the river. One of the paddlers was using a squirt boat, and he was unable to handle the huge water. Their decision to hike out was, under the circumstances, a wise one. But instead of staying near the river, they found themselves on a high ridge top with dusk falling. They constructed survival shelters, and spent a miserable couple of nights out. Fortunately they had told others of their plans. Searching began on Friday and they were found Saturday, bedraggled, but alive.
SOURCE: Sierra Club Paddler’s News Bulletin, March 1986
ANALYSIS: A similar incident occurring several years ago was publicized in the Stanley/Holbeck guidebook, Best Whitewater in California. The pair read the description on the way to the put-in, but made the same mistake. Launching on a rising river, they had no maps or survival gear. This first group was recovered more quickly because they stayed by the river rather than wandering around on the ridge tops.
Anyone who boats long wilderness runs where being caught out overnight is a real possibility should carry maps, extra food, and minimal bivouac gear. With modern equipment the weight of these “extras” is minimal.