Kayaker injured at dangerous rapid
on Vallecito Creek
A kayaker required rescue Tuesday afternoon after getting
injured at a dangerous Class 4 rapid on Vallecito Creek. Bruce Evans, fire
chief for Upper Pine River Fire Protection District, said a call came in around
3 p.m. that a kayaker was injured and stranded in the remote, hard-to-access
gorge. Initial information indicated two local kayakers, both male,
were out on a section of Vallecito Creek that features up to Class 5 rapids,
considered the most difficult class of runnable rapids.
According to American
Whitewater, Vallecito Creek is “remote and hazardous. The gorge is
committing and escape is not easy.” On Tuesday, the creek was
flowing at 1.9 feet, considered an optimal flow for the stretch.
Evans said both men were skilled and experienced kayakers.
However, one of the kayakers injured his shoulder at a rapid known as Trash
Evans did not have all the details immediately available, but he
said it appears the kayaker ran into a strainer, an extremely dangerous and
sometimes deadly obstacle in a river where debris, often tree limbs and
branches, can trap boaters.
“It takes a unique maneuver to get around it,” Evans said. “It’s
a notorious place to hang a kayak.”
The injured kayaker was able to get on shore while his partner
floated down the creek to get to an area with cellphone service to alert
Evans said the first rescue crews were on scene at the trailhead
within four minutes and started to hike in. After making contact with the
injured kayaker, rescue crews set up a rigging system to raise the man up 100
vertical feet to the top of the canyon.
As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Evans said the injured kayaker had been
brought up to the top of the canyon and was getting ready to hike out with
emergency personnel. It was a 5-mile walk to the trailhead, he said.
“(The injury) was not serious, but it prevented him from getting
out of the canyon,” Evans said. In all, almost 20 rescue personnel responded. Evans said drone
footage was taken of the rescue so emergency personnel can review their
Video: Drone footage shows rescue of kayaker from Vallecito Creek
Upper Pine River Fire Protection District lifted man from 100-foot canyon