2008 NPT Photo Submitted Isaac Ludwig, renowned kayaker, was seen here paddling down the Great Smoky Mountains National Park's Big Creek during heavy rains. Ludwig worked as a whitewater rafting guide for Rafting in the Smokies' Hartford outpost.
Published: 12:41 PM, 08/28/2008
Last updated: 3:06 PM, 08/28/2008
Author: Staff Report
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
CHIMNEYTOPS TRAILHEAD, GSMNP–The body of a local whitewater paddler was discovered in the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River below the Chimney TopsTrailhead in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Wednesday morning.
Isaac Ludwig, 27, Hartford, was reported missing around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday night by two fellow paddlers, Jared Seiler,23, Gladwyne, Pa., and James Donahue, 24, Nashville, according to a nationalpark press release. The three paddlers reportedly planned to run the lowersection of Road Prong, which meets the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River atthe Chimney Tops trail footbridge, and take out before they reached the Wes Prong.
The three men reportedly realized how swift thewater was shortly after entering the stream. Seiler and Donahue were reportedlyable to make it to an eddy but Ludwig missed his take-out and continued downstream.
Because of the time, terrain and relativ einaccessibility of the area (the West Prong has one of the steepest descents of any stream it’s size in the Eastern United States), rescue personnel, which included Rangers and the Gatlinburg Fire Department’s Swift Water Rescue Team,could only monitor the Chimney Tops Picnic Area two miles downstream. A yellow kayak, similar to the Liquid Logic model paddled by Ludwig, was found wrappedaround a tree near the picnic area, but was later verified to belong to someone else.
On Wednesday, several kayakers volunteered to assistrescue personnel by paddling downstream of the area, which was in flood stage (two feet above current flows) at the time of the incident.
Around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, two kayakers, reportedly not part of the search team, found Ludwig’s body entangledin vegetation above the waterline roughly 1,000-feet downstream of theconfluence of the West and Road prongs.
Ludwig, originally from Ohio, worked for Rafting In the Smokies’ Hartford Outpost on the Pigeon River for the past threeyears. He was the marketing director for the company and was managing theoutpost’s new kayak shop, which opened this past year. In addition, Ludwig wasan internationally seasoned paddler, who spent this past winter in Costa Rica.
“Isaac was a gentleman and a world classpaddler,” said Brenda Shultz, owner of Rafting in the Smokies’ HartfordmOutpost. “This has been the darkest day I’ve had in many years.” Shultscontinued, “He was my everything. He was multi-talented, he was a gentleman.”
Shultz said that because of the drought and lowwater conditions, Ludwig “was so excited” to head to mountains to kayak.According to Shultz, Ludwig, “Was very active in keeping the Pigeon River clean. He was a huge believer in recycling and even helped establish recyclingbins in the Hartford area. I would have been proud if he was my son. I loved him.” Shultz said, “Isaac was wonderful and I loved him dearly. Everybody loved him and I loved him like I love my own kids.Everybody he met loved him. He was a wonderful, special, honest person.”
Of Ludwig’s untimely passing, Cocke County Mayor Iliff McMahan said, “It’s rare in our lifetime to meet someone who is whole heartedly and genuinely good. Isaac was that man. He loved the outdoors,he loved our river and he loved the people that pulled their livelihood fromour river. It’s devastating for us to lose someone who’s just really starting his life here on earth and we might not understand it, but somehow, someway,our Lord has called him home at 27. And while his soul is with God, We hope Isaac’s spirit stays with us and all the folks who live and make their livelihood onthis river for their lifetime. We’ll miss him, his smile, we’ll miss his love for this community and the wonders of the mountains.”
The micro creek, which is a rarely run section (lower Road Prong) was in flood stages. Isaac, a world-class paddler, and two friends (Jared Seiler and "Hippy" James Donahue) who are also very experienced planned to take out before the West Prong. Immediately, they realized that the water was too swift and decided to abandon the run. Seiler and Donahue caught an eddy to exit the stream, but Isaac missed it and continued further downstream. Park Rangers and the Gatlinburg Fire Dept's SWR Team could only search from the bank because of the big water levels. The next morning several kayakers volunteered to assist by paddling downstream to no avail. Approx. 9:30 am on Wednesday, two kayakers not involved in the search found Isaac's body entangled in a strainer 1000 feet downstream of the Road Prong/West Prong confluence.
TEXT ATTACHMENTS http://newportplaintalk.com/story/26632
Missing kayaker's body found in Smokies
Accident Occurred Aug 26, 2008
Published: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at 12:18 p.m.
The body of the missing kayaker was located about 9:30 a.m. in a section of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. The victim, IsaacLudwig, 27, from Hartford, Tenn., was located by two kayakers who were notpart of the search team, but running the river on their own. The search effort involved Great Smoky Mountains National Park Rangers and Gatlinburg Fire Department’s Swift Water Rescue Team.
The male subject was reported missing around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday by his two companions. It was previously reported that the group’s plan was to paddle to the Chimney Tops Picnic Area, but that was not the case. The group entered the water near the Chimney Tops Trailhead planning to run rapids on the lower section of the Road Prong, a tributary to the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. The plan was to take out before they reached the West Prong. Ludwig’s companions, Jared Seiler, Gladwyne, Pa, 23, and James Donahue, Nashville, 24, returned to shore shortly after they put in when they realized how swift the water was, but the victim continued downstream.
The body was found about 1,000 feet downstream from the confluence of the Road Prong and the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. The stream level has dropped about 2 feet since yesterday evening andthe victim was found above the water entangled in vegetation. The site where the body was located is extremely rugged and heavily vegetated and is not near a trail. Rescue personnel will have to cross difficult terrain torecovery the body and expect that it will take hours to do so.
The body of a 27 year kayaker Isaac Ludwig was found this morning in the Great Smoky Mountains national park about 1,000 feet downstream from the confluence of the Road Prong and the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. Isaac Ludwig of Hartford, Tennessee and 2 other kayakers 23 year old Jared Seiler of Gladwyne, Pennsylvania and 24 year old James Donahue of Nashville Tennessee entered the Road Prong River near the Chimney Tops Trailhead and planed to kayak the rain swollen body of water and rapids on the lower section of the Road Prong and take their kayaks out of the water before they reached the West Prong.
Once in the water Jared and James very rapidly assessed that the water was running too swift and pulled their kayaks out but Isaac tragically pushed on downstream.Isaac Ludwig was an experienced kayaker who worked for Rafting in the Smokies and did in fact have the appropriate safety gear of a life vest and helmet on while he was in his yellow Liquid Logic whitewater kayak. Amazingly another kayaker who was unrelated to this accident lost a similar boat of the same color which was found wrapped around a tree near the Chimney Tops Picnic Area.
Smoky Mountains National Park Rangers and Gatlinburg Fire Department's Swift Water Rescue Team were involved in a search effort but the body of Isaac was found above the water line entangled in vegetation by 2 other kayakers who were running on the river which had dropped about 2 feet since yesterday. The recovery of Isaacs body in now ongoing and is quite difficult given the surrounding terrain and the fact that there are no hiking trails near where the body is located.
While working at scout camp Isaac was taught to roll a kayak by his father at age 16 and had a driving passion for the sport. He owned at least 5 boats and by his own admission was not a stranger to having to repair damage to his boats from smashing into rocks. Isaac had an interest in clean water environmental issues and in his free time wrote for a magazine called Sidetracked which promotes adventure sports. He was also involved in environmentally friendly kayaking products.
After car accidents, accidental drowning is one of the most common causes of serious injury or death to visitors of the Great Smoky Mountains national park.Commonly after large rainfall many kayakers take on the streams and rivers of the Great Smoky Mountains national park. While many put in along the roadside of Little River, some will hike deep into areas to put in. For examples some as much as 5 miles or more in Deep Creek NC to brave the rapids where a swift rescue is virtually impossible.
Body of missing kayaker found in Smokies
Posted: Aug. 27, 2008 GATLINBURG, Tenn. — The body of a kayaker reported missing by companions while running rapids in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been found. Park spokeswoman Nancy Gray said the body of 27-year-old Isaac Ludwig of Hartford, Tenn., was located about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on the west prong of the Little Pigeon River. Companions Jared Seiler, 23, of Gladwyne, Pa., and James Donahue, 24, of Nashville reported him missing Tuesday evening after the trio entered a rain-swollen tributary of the Little Pigeon River. Seiler and Donahue quickly returned to shore because of the swift current, but Ludwig continued downstream. Two kayakers who were not part of a formal search party found his body.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Kayaker's body found, retrieved
Tenn. man skilled; swift water made companions stop
By J.J. Stambaugh (Contact)
Thursday, August 28, 2008 Related link
Isaac Ludwig's web site where he shared his love of kayaking
A veteran kayaker died after trying to navigate a rain-swollen tributary of the Little Pigeon River in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, authorities said Wednesday. Isaac Ludwig, 26, of Hartford, Tenn., went missing Tuesday night on the Road Prong of the Little Pigeon near the Chimney Tops Picnic Area, said park spokeswoman Nancy Gray. His body was found about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and retrieved about 3 p.m., Gray said. Ludwig was still wearing his helmet, but his life vest was gone, Gray said. He had been wearing a life vest when the kayaking trip began, she said, and authorities still hadn't found the kayak he was using.
Ludwig's body was found "entangled in vegetation in a tree that was about two feet off the water, so the water had receded after the rain stopped," Gray said. "The river was used by a lot of kayakers during this rain period," Gray said, referring to recent storms that have soaked East Tennessee. "The number of kayakers has increased over the years, and with improved skills and better equipment being made, people are able to go into many streams that weren't attempted popularly before."
Gray said it's easy to underestimate how hazardous some waterways in the national park can become when storms move through. "It's amazing when we have rain episodes how quickly the water will rise, and then it will recede just as quickly when the rain stops," she said. Authorities hadn't determined the precise cause of Ludwig's death, she said, and it was unclear if an autopsy will be performed. Park rangers and a swift-water rescue team fanned out Wednesday in search of Ludwig.
An experienced kayaker, Ludwig had put in with two other men, Jared Seiler, 23, of Gladwyne, Pa., and James Donahue, 24, of Nashville, Gray said. All three men were whitewater guides who had chosen to spend their off-hours in the park, Gray said. The trio put in at the Road Prong and had planned to pull out where the Road Prong meets the West Prong of the Little Pigeon. "They were going to take out before the West Prong, but he continued on," Gray said. "His two companions pulled out once they realized how swift the water was." His body was found about 1,000 feet downstream from the confluence of the Road and West prongs, she said.
J.J. Stambaugh may be reached at 865-342-6307.
The following article was sent from InsideNPS. The article can be found at
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Search For Missing Kayaker Culminates With Discovery Of Body
The body of a missing kayaker was found yesterday morning in a section of the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. The victim, Isaac Ludwig, 27, of Hartford, Tennessee, was discovered by two kayakers who were not part of the search team that was looking for him, but were running the river on their own. Ludwig was reported missing on Tuesday evening by his two companions. They’d entered the water near the Chimney Tops trailhead with the intention of running rapids on the lower section of Road Prong, a tributary to the West Prong. The plan was to takeout before they reached the West Prong. Ludwig’s companions returned to shore shortly after they entered the river when they realized how swift the current was moving, but Ludwig continued on. His body was found about a thousand feet downstream from the confluence of Road Prong and West Prong. The stream level dropped about two feet yesterday, and his body was found above the water, entangled in vegetation. The area where the body was found is extremely rugged and heavily vegetated and not near a trail. At the time of the report, park personnel were still trying to reach the location.
Name: Nancy Gray, Public Affairs Officer