about 11 hours ago
I just want to start out by giving a HUGE thanks to the 4 guys that helped with the rescue. Also, thanks to the guys that got my boat out. The kayaking community is excellent about working together, no questions asked, when someone needs help...and I needed a lot of help. As far as my resume, I've been paddling for over 13 years and have done this river dozens of times. I've paddled all over the SE and several trips out west. I also worked as a guide for 5 years. My crew had similar experience. We ran from superman down and even ran action alley twice.
We were working our way to the take out and were about 200 yards when the pin occurred. It was in class 2 water with swift current. There was a tree just barely at the surface of the water I didn't see. When my nose hit it, it turned me sideways and I leaned downstream so I wouldn't get pinned. Immediately, the tip of the tree went into my cockpit, blew my skirt, and pinned between my legs. I tried to get out as quick as possible but the tree had my legs pinned inside the boat. I was working to keep my head above water at this point. My crew immediately got to me with a rope. Assessing the situation, I had a tree wedging my legs in the boat and was also wrapped around my spray skirt. I was only above water by holding a rope and the air temp was no more than 32F and water was freezing. I was wearing a dry suit but my pogies were on my paddle so no gloves.
Some other boaters showed up and jumped into action. It was very difficult for anybody to get to me because of the strong current and very few rocks in the area. To make a very long story short, it took about 20-30 min to get both legs out of the kayak but my skirt was attached to the tree and boat. I tried cutting it but had no dexterity as my hands were frozen. Eventually, I worked my way out of the skirt and was finally free. I was so exhausted and cold I couldn't even swim to shore. I was helped to the car to defrost while the crew worked on the boat. It was later removed but the skirt is still wrapped around the tree.
The pin was a huge slap in the face that this can happen to anybody at any time. It's like driving in rush hour traffic then getting in a wreck in your neighborhood... when you don't expect it. I owe everything to a solid crew with the ropes and skills to get me out. Never paddle alone, and always have safety gear in EVERY kayak. I hope people find this helpful and are reminded how serious things can get even in class 2 water. Add freezing temperatures and it's a recipe for disaster. Thanks again to everybody involved.