On May 4th, 2014, Dustin, Greg and I were kayaking the Takelma Section of the North Fork of the Rogue. A raft was also paddling with us consisting of Jake, Joe, Taylor and John. The Takelma section is a gorged in section that consists of five major rapids. At Rapid #3 there was a log in the top and one in the middle and on the bottom left.
Everyone in the group got out to scout the rapid. The bottom below the logs had a large rock to the right, a v-shaped notch and a shelf on the left. I ran the rapid first and was waiting in the eddy at the bottom. The raft came next and flipped in the "v-notch". John swam and got on shore on the left hand side. Joe had a couple paddles and got out on shore on the right. Jake and Taylor were clinging to the upside down raft trying to swim it to the right hand shore. As they got closer Joe was able to grab a hold of the raft but could not hold on. They were so close to getting it to shore, I personally thought they were going to make it.
Jake and Taylor went over the next drop (Rapid #4) clinging to the upside down raft. Greg came down Rapid #3 then Dustin. Dustin was the first kayak to run the next drop, Rapid #4. I waited for Greg then ran Rapid #4. As I came off the drop, Jake and Taylor were standing on a small shelf on the left side of the canyon. By small, it was not even big enough for the two of them to sit on. Dustin peeled out and said he was going to go try to secure the raft. I spoke to Jake and Taylor and asked if they were both "OK", and they nodded yes and both were exhausted and breathing heavy after the bad swim they took. Greg ran Rapid #4 and I told them we were going to run the next rapid, Rapid #5 the last in the gorge and then come back up the side of the canyon to work on getting them out.
Greg and I ran Rapid #5 and some flat water till it looked like we could loop back up the canyon side. We then got our equipment out of our kayaks and started up to the trail to the top of the canyon. Dustin met us there, he was able to secure the raft and had enough insight to also bring the long rope out of the raft. As we went down the trail, there was a rock point were you could look up in to the canyon and see Taylor and Jake's position. When I arrived there, Taylor had roped in Jake securing him on the perch. I shouted down to gain contact and Taylor indicated that Jake was not well and needed out fast. We then mentally marked the ridge above their position and surveyed the scene. To our gratification, John and Joe were able to get out of the canyon and met us at that location.
John was able to assist Joe in crossing the river with a belt bag and there was a way for them to climb out of the canyon. After taking a survey of equipment, biners, prusiks, pulleys and throw ropes. We were well stocked. We worked to create a few anchors and set up a z-drag. Then using the long rope, I assume it was 75', we lowered down the rope with biners and webbing on the end so that they could make a harness. Greg went out to the point so that he could help communicate with the people river side and those up top. After lowering the rope, it was determined it was not going to be long enough to set up a z-drag. We decided that with 4 of us pulling. We could just go through one pulley with a prusik and if we could not pull him up we could lower him back down and come up with another plan. The four of us were able to pull Jake up.
After pulling Jake to the top, he was conscious and coherent but weak, pale and had a low blood pressure. He is a nurse that had worked in the Emergency Room and had self diagnosised himself with internal injuries. He requested that we not call an ambulance. We discussed our options and decided with everyone there and things setup it was best to get Taylor up. We quickly pulled Taylor up using the same system.
Once everyone was up Dustin said that he knew where there was a boy scout camp, cabin, or something along those lines that he could drive closer for better access. We then sent him to paddle downstream in his kayak to contact the other people that were waiting to meet us to paddle the lower "River Bridge" section. We then had to get Jake up about 50 feet through some large boulders to get to the trail. Joe took a rope to the top which we fastened to Jake and he hip-belayed him while we helped by lifting, pulling and tugging on Jake to get him to the top. He could only go a little bit at a time then have to stop and rest. That little bit of distance was very demanding. Once we got to the top Jake was able to walk and we started out on the trail. The trail would split and you would go out sections and then loose it or it would just end so we had to do some trail discovery to continue walking. Jake let us know the real trail closely followed the river the whole way, so we veered back towards the river, and we then noticed someone coming up the trail and it was the group that was coming to meet us. Greg and I handed off care and went back to get our kayaks and equipment. Taylor continued walking with Jake along with others that had hiked up the trail.
When Greg and I had gotten back, Joe and John had cleaned up the equipment and were floating downstream in the raft. Jake was taken to the hospital and had a ruptured spleen and broken ribs. He had a procedure that was successful in hopes of not having to remove his spleen but is still in ICU. While we were walking out, he mentioned that he thought that he injured himself when the raft flipped. He thinks he got slammed onto the rock. He is one tough person and we were lucky to have a bunch of people present that had the right equipment, knowledge and skill set to use it.