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Old 08-27-2011, 07:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sax6272 View Post
How about a river that's deep enough to float and navigate, but not deep enough to drown? i.e you can stand up in it. Here's a pic I just came across that made me think of such a thing. There are more visible rocks, but at least you know where they are, and still get to practice your paddling skills. What class does this look like, or is there even enough water to rank it?

http://www.robbrife.com/Colorado2007/Train4.JPG

Apparently this board is not allowing links. You have to copy and paste (?)
That photo is taken far away but I suspect of what you see there, you'd probably not be able to stand up in some of those spots or move far even if you could.

I think what you don't understand is the power of the water and there is no pause button.

The water is nothing like Texas. For one thing it is cold, often just above freezing and in Colorado there is a rapid descent in elevation plus a huge volume of snow melt water.

 
Old 08-27-2011, 08:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sax6272 View Post
I guess I've been in TX too long. If you have on a life vest here, like the type water skiers wear, you float. You don't drown. You could be unconscious, floating in the middle of the lake, perfectly upright. So the concept of water being stronger than the foam, or whatever is inside the life vest that causes you to float, is foreign to me without something other than water holding you under. (such as being stuck under a tree limb or rocks)
A life vest is an aid, not an automatic perfect rescue device. Much like driver aids in cars like ABS and vehicle dynamic control, those systems can help the driver, but that doesn't mean you still can't fly off the road and kill yourself.

If all this really interests you, sign up for work with one of the rafting companies and/or learn to be a river guide.
 
Old 08-27-2011, 10:39 PM
 
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I don't know that I'd want the responsibility of rescuing people. If a guide could just guide and not have to worry about that, it would be a great job. But I'll never forget how we were the lead raft, and it came time to throw the lifeline to the fallen women coming toward us, and how we had one shot and one shot only to hit a moving target. I can't even recall the exact details as to who, if anyone, caught the line. I know it wasn't the woman. Either someone in their raft caught our line then grabbed her and had their raft stopped right in front of us, or they someone managed to stop and pull her out without our line helping much, if any. I just remember their raft was following her, with the woman right on their nose like she was the driver of a bus, and they were stopped right in front of us when they pulled her out. Do guides get paid like firefighters? If what I've described is a daily occurrance, they should get paid just as well, at least on those days that they save somebody.

What are the odds that you'd go on ONE rafting trip, a VERY mild one, only one third of which had any rapids to speak of (very minor compared to CO...I'm not even sure you'd qualify it as whitewater, just some minor drop offs that the guide had us all paddle through at once after he made sure we were lined up going into them. The speed in cps wasn't even that fast). Even though I'm sure the outfitters have everyone sign waivers of responsibility, what if you can't get to the person? I presume SOMEONE gets to them eventually, even if it's another outfitter's boat, and in busy season on the Arkansas, I presume they're one right after the next.

Do people die every season, after falling out of the 5-7 man commercial outfitter rafts with a guide, like the pic I posted? Are ambulances a daily occurrence, or does someone in their party tote them to the closest hospital?

If the water is pretty much always that cold, I don't think I'd be one of the people whose arms don't have anything on them. I've heard of neoprene, but now I'm reading about wool and other materials. Wool? Really? I've never thought of wool as waterproof. Warm WHEN DRY, but not when wet. But then, I've never tried on wet wool.

I was at Barnes and Nobles tonight, and a Lonely Planet travel guide on Colorado said most Arkansas River outfitters are huddled around Salina, with a fewer number 'at the hwy turnoff to the Royal Gorge,' whatever that means. I guess they'll put you in the water there, but unless there's a pick up of action between their and Pueblo, I don't get it. The pics of water under the bridge itself that I've seen look pretty tame and unobstructed. I'm sure that's all many people want to take on, hence, a market for that.

I'll check out that link. I'm surprised to find that cause when I looked into it a couple of years ago, there were few paddle clubs, and they mainly did canoeing on calm rivers. Since there's no snowmelt here, I can't imagine how they've come up with a list of Class 3-5 'whitewater' sites. I've never seen anything remote resembling 'whitewater' in TX. I'm wondering if it's someone's wishful thinking, especially this year with record droughts all across the state. I'll look into it further. Thanks.

As for CO, I think I've done pretty well in less than 24 hours. Unless something changes, we've narrowed down the whole state to two or three towns. Congrats. (*pats self on back).

Last edited by sax6272; 08-27-2011 at 11:00 PM..
 
Old 08-27-2011, 11:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sax6272 View Post
Do people die every season, after falling out of the 5-7 man commercial outfitter rafts with a guide, like the pic I posted?
Yes.

Happens all the time. I remember one year, just about every day in the Vail Daily there was mention of a fatality on the rivers whether commercial rafting or private kayaking/rafting.

And while I don't live there anymore, I still check the papers every once in a while and these accidents were happening a plenty this year. In addition in some places this year there was so much snow melt and rapid run off, government was trying to enforce a ban on riding the rivers when the water was too high, because doing so would be suicidal.

Don't know how some of these companies stay in business, but also people I believe have the right to do such things.

I don't think it gets much coverage because it's one person here and there.

However, from what I have seen most people I see are unprepared for a lot of these trips, heading out on class 4 and 5 waters. Physically unfit or not a good swimmer for starters. At least if you are a good swimmer, you might have a chance to fight to stay above water, but if you are a non swimming person that has eaten too many Oreos, you don't have a chance.

I started swimming at 3 or 4 years old, passed a month long lifeguard course at 15. I'm comfortable in the water, but these days I'm happy to paddle lakes and class 1 or 2 rivers. Like air and gravity, anytime you play hard with water there is significant risk.

Also not trying to dissuade you, but want to make sure you have the respect for what you want to get involved in and that you take the time to learn what you need to.
 
Old 08-27-2011, 11:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sax6272 View Post
Do guides get paid like firefighters?
Nope.

All the guides I have known did it for their passion. Certainly not as a full time year round job and certainly not for money. I think just about everyone I knew camped outside for the summer and wages are low with maybe some tips earned here and there.
 
Old 08-27-2011, 11:14 PM
 
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That's the 2nd time in 2 days I've read that high water levels in a river are more dangerous, but I don't know why that is. Trying to think logically, that would make the river wider at the surface, (like trying to land a plane on a wider runway...the more paved surface for when you get off center, the merrier), and put more distance between your butt and the tops of the rocks beneath you, both good things. So I don't get why it's more dangerous, unless its the pure speed of the water, but that's not a river height/level issue, that's a river speed issue.

The only explanation I can fathom, is the high water COVERS UP rocks etc. that you normally would see and avoid, but not so much that there's enough added space above them for them to not be a factor. If that's the case, then it makes perfect sense that it's more dangerous that way.

Last edited by sax6272; 08-27-2011 at 11:24 PM..
 
Old 08-28-2011, 01:11 AM
 
9,817 posts, read 19,026,437 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sax6272 View Post
That's the 2nd time in 2 days I've read that high water levels in a river are more dangerous, but I don't know why that is. Trying to think logically, that would make the river wider at the surface, (like trying to land a plane on a wider runway...the more paved surface for when you get off center, the merrier), and put more distance between your butt and the tops of the rocks beneath you, both good things. So I don't get why it's more dangerous, unless its the pure speed of the water, but that's not a river height/level issue, that's a river speed issue.

The only explanation I can fathom, is the high water COVERS UP rocks etc. that you normally would see and avoid, but not so much that there's enough added space above them for them to not be a factor. If that's the case, then it makes perfect sense that it's more dangerous that way.
I think the thing you are not getting is water takes the path of least resistance and in Colorado there are very significant elevation changes which add up to high speeds and flows of water. Texas doesn't have anything like that for the most part, so water takes it's leisurely time in almost all cases.

High water levels in Colorado are a significant barometer, as due to the elevation, water doesn't hang around, so that means the flow is intense if the river is high.

I don't think you'll get it until you toss yourself in a river in Colorado during the months of May and June. There is no way to explain the force of the water and the coldness of it to a neophyte from Texas. You should experience it yourself and Reality will Bite in a few short seconds.

Any level of water that is navigable on a river in Colorado can be dangerous. Accidents often happen to people who let their guard down.
 
Old 08-28-2011, 09:00 AM
 
10,872 posts, read 41,174,133 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sax6272 View Post
That's the 2nd time in 2 days I've read that high water levels in a river are more dangerous, but I don't know why that is. Trying to think logically, that would make the river wider at the surface, (like trying to land a plane on a wider runway...the more paved surface for when you get off center, the merrier), and put more distance between your butt and the tops of the rocks beneath you, both good things. So I don't get why it's more dangerous, unless its the pure speed of the water, but that's not a river height/level issue, that's a river speed issue.

The only explanation I can fathom, is the high water COVERS UP rocks etc. that you normally would see and avoid, but not so much that there's enough added space above them for them to not be a factor. If that's the case, then it makes perfect sense that it's more dangerous that way.
Terrible analogy re aircraft because in an aircraft, if you're setting yourself for an accident (groundloop) ... it doesn't matter if the runway is 40' wide or 140' wide ... the runway is a stationary surface and you are moving relative to it in an uncontrolled manner. I've watched taildraggers and tricycle gear aircraft in gusty conditions both wind up with serious damage .... sometimes without ever leaving the runway at all.

OTOH, a river carrying more CFS volume over the rocks is not a placid current flow. Nobody can accurately predict the hydraulic forces at work as the level of the stream flow varies from a trickle over the rock surfaces to having them buried far below the surface of a fast moving volume of water.
Again, I've listened to my friends who have guided for years, either professionally or as frequent recreational rafters ... and they can relate times when a normally easy stretch of a stream at low water levels where they can see the rocks and maneuver readily to transit the area can turn into a washing machine or high powered blender experience as the water levels rise.

You apparently think in terms of water simply flowing straight down a riverbed, like a ribbon of highway. Not so as the water volume changes over the bottom and shorelines; you can find many little eddies, up and down motion of the water, and back currents become big deals, swirling around and capable of slamming your craft (or you, if in the water) against a rocky outcropping. Places like the "room of doom" (on the Green) can literally trap you in a whirlpool on the one side of the river rather than your carefull passage by it on the other side avoiding the rocks that would trap you over there. Once stuck, you'll see others rapidly going downstream while you just spin circles in a surface dynamic which you cannot overcome without assistance from the shore via folk tossing lines to you and pulling your craft out from the whirlpool.

As wanneroo advises, try experiencing some of these actual conditions and you'll (maybe) walk away from the streams and rivers with a different respect for the power of the falling water than you now have. Best not to transit many of these Colorado waters without having at least reviewed in advance(and have on hand) the published guidebook for the water you're on ... and keeping in mind that the day with a few hundred CFS is an entirely different experience and challenge than the day with a thousand CFS through the same area.
 
Old 08-28-2011, 09:18 AM
 
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I just found this site. Hello, Sunday morning wake up call!

American Whitewater - Safety

Maybe I should stick with snowboarding. Whitewater kayaking looked like fun, but these stories of rock pinning are enough to make someone paranoid with fear every second on the water. And I don't even have a wife or kids to think about. So much for the fun.
 
Old 08-28-2011, 12:38 PM
 
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That safety site was a good find.

Fatalities are fairly low per 100,000 river days, but it happens; and scares, close calls & injuries are more numerous.

If you doesn't want to think about managing the risk much of the time and having to be ready to help with the rescue of a companion or another party then maybe better to not go whole hog on intense whitewater kayaking descents. One could instead stick to occasional guided rafts on mild water or take advantage of flat water kayaking or just be the type of kayaker who mainly focuses on "playing" in a few rapids within your skill that you know well around other people who could help if needed instead of undertaking difficult, long, new river descents.

Or select a different sport. The power of the moving wild remote river does make the context different that a lot of other sports with a more static risk environment. If you want thrills, there will probably be risk but there can be other sports with some thrill with less risk or less sustained or severe risk exposure or a less active, changing risk environment or at least less skill & training required. I don't know how risky something like wakeboarding on a lake is relative to kayaking but I'd think it would be somewhat less but still exciting.

If one really likes rivers, one could also focus on hiking along them, hanging out beside them or finding waterfalls or maybe enjoying a few swimming holes in the summer and jumping it them from reasonable places. Or fishing. Or perhaps even watching kayakers for awhile before deciding whether to get involved & trained.


Salida is the base of many Arkansas river operators because it gives them access to both the upper and lower river and gives access to services to their guests and employees.

Last edited by NW Crow; 08-28-2011 at 01:40 PM..
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