BROWN'S CANYON SNARES BLM EMPLOYEE
Arkansas River near Nathrop, Colorado: July 20,1991
Volume: Low. Gradient: 38 ft/mi Classification III
DESCRIPTION: Brown's Canyon is one of the most popular stretches of whitewater in the West, and is heavily used by rafters and hard boaters. On July 20th Mark Pile, a BLM employee just learning how to kayak, was making his initial run down Brown's Canyon. At the beginning of his trip he became separated from his group as he worked on his rolls and braces. Somehow he became pinned between his boat and a rock at Pinball Rapid. His group discovered him and, after initial rescue attempts were unsuccessful, flagged down a passing outfitter. With better quality ropes, a Z-Drag, and a new angle of pull they were able to extricate the body.
SOURCE: Steve Reese, Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area
ANALYSIS: Although little is known about how the victim became pinned, it may have happened while drifting downstream during roll practice. The victim did not initially understand the seriousness of his predicament, and once the water caught the boat it was all over. This incident should warn paddlers against the dangers of drifting upside-down for long periods, as well as for the need to exit their boat early when serious pinning situations threaten.(CW)