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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I could not figure out how to post the pics on this board, but I did post them here:
Rogue River Crash Pictures

As I have yet to post my first story, I figured this would be a good one. I hope it provides an adequate degree of warning and amusement. I have pictures, but no slide scanner so I cannot post them. Sorry.

This tale begins in Southern Oregon, where my dad and I planned a 35 mile float down the wild and scenic section of the Rogue River. We packed up the Maravia Spider with coolers and dry bags, fishing rods and assorted gear.

Two miles into the trip, we pulled over to scout Rainey Falls, a twelve foot drop rated class V because of the boat flipping hole at the bottom. Salmon and steelhead were jumping up the falls, and I got this brilliant idea that the falls could be run. So I left my dad on the beach with the fly rods and my camera and headed back to the boat, firmly convinced I had chosen a good line down the fall. Off I went…

Well, if the falls can be run at 1500 cfs, it takes a better oarsperson than me. Although normally crashes seem to happen in slow motion, this one did not. The boat flipped so fast I can barely piece together how I flipped. But flip I did and into the water I went. Not to worry, as I plunged into the water, the boat oar broke my fall (thereby resulting in 11 stitches and a large bump above my left eye).

Here is where my tale becomes tragic and not for the faint of heart. The water separated me from my hat. As I turned over and over in the frothy whitewater, my only thought was "my hat?" Yeah right. My only thought was "hold your breath you idiot." After a very long time under water (like 3 seconds), I flushed out and was able to grab the boat, undue the bow line and swim towards shore where some fisherman helped me drag the boat in and flip it back over.

No other gear was lost, but efforts to locate my trusty hat were in vain. Perhaps I would have found the hat if my left eye was not covered in blood. A quick look into the compass mirror revealed that stitches were necessary. As we still had two days and 33 miles of river to navigate before the nearest takeout, I opted to hike the two miles back to the beginning of our float and hitchhike to the nearest hospital. My dad stayed behind and pitched camp. My last words to him as I left were, "look for my hat." He said I ought to have my head examined, which at the hospital I did. I grabbed my first aid kit, headlamp and jacket and began my two mile stroll to the trailhead.

I reached the road in 40 minutes. I knew I had to hike back in the dark, so I marked the trail by dripping blood. I figured this was a good plan, because I get lonely hiking alone and the blood was sure to attract company (here little black bear, here little fella).

Looking like the monster in a Halloween flick, I attempted to hitch a ride. Amazingly, the first car graciously volunteered to take me to the hospital. They were a retired couple out for a peaceful drive. She had me sit in the front seat to take full advantage of the floor mats and seat covers. At this point, my gauze pads were saturated. 45 minutes later, we pulled up to the ER entrance to the Grants Pass Hospital. While I was helping the lady back into the front seat, an orderly ran out and asked if I needed a wheel chair. I looked good. Too bad it wasn't prom night.

The hospital admissions nurse reacted with a mixture of awe (wow, how brave you are) and amazement (wow, you are really an idiot). Obviously, I prefer the first reaction, although the latter is more accurate. Either way, I was a pathetic figure, and they got me to the registration desk immediately. I was a little worried at this point, as I only had $28 in cash, no id, no insurance card and no VISA. Apparently, this was not a problem, as the registration clerk permitted me to call in my insurance info. She rushed me through the process and in no time at all, I was laying in a bed in the ER.

My ER nurse looked a little like Susan Sarandon and she lost little time in chastising me. "You did what? No locals run the falls." I sheepishly agreed that I was mentally ill. After providing me with fresh gauze, she left me to wallow in my cesspool of stupidity. Not more than five seconds past when I heard her tell everyone at the nursing station, "you won't believe it, that kid ran Rainey Falls."

I spoke out, "I can hear you!" The nurses and lab techs all laughed. A few came in to see the damage the falls can do. Within a short time, a German doctor came in to stitch me up. I was a little worried about the stitches and scarring, as I had a job interview the following week. (Apparently, my worries were unfounded as the interview was postponed and my local doctor said the stitches were expertly done. Thanks ER doc!)

Newly stitched back together, I focused on my next problem, getting back to the trailhead. With everyone that came in, I begged a ride back to the trailhead at Graves Creek. Nurse Sarandon even called over to the admin department on my behalf but no one was heading my way. Unfortunately, Graves Creek is in the middle of nowhere and no one lives out there and it was a 1½ hour round trip. I was resigned to making signs for use in what was sure to be a new chapter in this adventure. I asked my nurse for help designing the signs. She asked if I had heard them talking earlier. Apparently, one nurse as a joke asked if she should get started on the signs.

Nurse Sarandon called her son, to see if he was able to take me. But he was still in class. She even volunteered to take me when she got off shift in three hours. Then, she hesitated. She had one more idea. She called her soon to be ex-husband. This had to be a hard call to make. Sometimes asking my wife for a favor is tough enough, but asking a soon to be ex? But ask she did and Bill graciously agreed to take me to the trailhead. (By the way, they are selling a very nice four runner, so if you know anyone in the market, have them call the hospital.) Bill met me at the ER entrance as soon as I was discharged, and off we went.

Bill chatted with me about cycling, triathlons and the inflatable kayaks, but I couldn't have been great company, the road was curvy and I was feeling a little peaked. I concentrated on not throwing up because Bill probably would have taken me back to the hospital with concussion worries (it's just motion sickness). We made it to the trailhead. The sun had set on the day, but not my adventure. It was dark and I began my hike back to the tent. Every couple of steps I whistled to let the bears know dinner was coming.

While I was at the hospital, the local fisherman were making my dad feel at home by sharing stories about how friendly the bears are and how this particular spot on the river was a good one for entertaining sir ursine. The idea of camping alone can be intimidating, so my dad welcomed the idea of having wildlife companionship. My dad also had a head full of joyful memories of his son traipsing off in search of stitches. Needless to say, he was pretty excited to see me return.

I was also excited to see him. I had believed once I got to the tent, I could sleep. Unfortunately, when I laid down, I realized that I still had to row the boat through countless class IIIs and three class IV, including Tyee Rapids, Mule Creek Canyon (with the famous coffee pot) and Blossom Bar. Sleep did not come easy.

By this time, I was a local legend, (not necessarily in a good way). Many people saw either the attempt, the result, or asked if my dad was camping alone. Some fishing guides openly sneered at me with disdain. The unspoken sentiment seemed to be "how dare I disrespect their river by running the falls." It was unnecessary, my shame was enough, although, it did not prevent me from asking everyone if they saw my hat. My dad thought it amusing that I had one eye swollen shut but was worried about my hat. (He obviously has not had a Tilley.)

The following morning dawned cold but clear and we broke our bearless camp. A couple of miles downriver, we noticed a drift boat pulling flies like plugs. I asked him how the fishing was and what type of flies they were using. What follows was remarkable, and I'm not even sure it happened. The oarsman told me what type of fly, and asked if I wanted a couple. I have been fly fishing for a number of years and never have run across such generosity.

We talked for awhile, and I noticed he had an "ifish.net" sticker on his boat. Ifish.net is a fishing forum focusing on Oregon rivers. I had consulted it for a rogue report before taking the trip. The report was posted by no other than "grantspastor" the man in the drift boat floating beside me. Small world.

We floated on. But Grantspastor floated by while we were avoiding disaster by putting a new cotter pin on my oar lock. (Note to self, add oar lock to repair kit.)

Grantspastor was a couple hundred yards in front of us when we went through "Slim Pickins," a class III rapid. This proved fortuitous, as I was able to yell downstream as the boat was flipping for the second time in as many days. The reason for this flip is unknown. It could be due to the sluggishness of the boat, or my lack of depth perception (no left eye) or because I was a little shaky after Rainy Falls. But we flipped again, this time in slow motion. I had hit the bolder guarding the exit and my dad was jarred to the low side of the raft, burying the tube in the current and slowly flipping the boat.

I grabbed my dad and had him hold the boat while I climbed up on the boat bottom, undid the bow line, and swam/pulled the boat (and dad) to shore. Grantspastor run up the bank and helped us flip the boat back over. The result: a soaked dad; two broken rods; and a thoroughly shaken captain.

Grantspastor could tell that the Rogue was in my head, and tried to calm me down and restore a little of my confidence. He was too good to be real. He invited us to share his camp at Battlebar, and to help me through the remaining rapids. He had been on the river for over 30 years, and knew every rock, current and fishing spot. He took time to draw the rapids out on the sand and helped me through the tough ones.

I'm not going to say I couldn't have made it without him, but I will say this. Most wilderness tragedies I have read about result from a string of bad decisions and bad luck. My adventure may have avoided tragedy status because I swallowed my teaspoon of pride and accepted the gracious guidance and hospitality of Grantspastor. With his help, we made it to the takeout and home. I will be forever grateful. What comes around goes around… and when that time comes, I'll do my part. I also want to express my sincere gratitude to the staff at Grants Pass Hospital, especially Nurse Sarandon and Bill.

Last, if any of you happen to see a well loved Tilley hat floating down the Rogue, I'd really like it back.


Spookalotafish

[ 11-12-2003, 10:02 AM: Message edited by: spookalotafish ]
 

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Hot dawg, Terrific tale!


OK, I have to edit this, I am afraid it might have been misconstrued as an insult. None was intended. I have, in the last 45 years, with great forethought and calculation, ended up inspecting the bottoms of Nestucca Bay, the Deschutes, the Santiam, and Pine Ridge Lake among other well-known waters. I extend a hearty welcome to a fellow bottom-feeder.

[ 11-07-2003, 03:06 PM: Message edited by: Old Coot ]
 

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I doubt that any of us were surprised that (a) the driftboat operator was Grantspastor, and (b) that he unselfishly aided you like he did.

There's lots of people on Ifish who are just like him. I kinda think we just picked up one more.

Welcome aboard - it's a great place!

Skein
 

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What a story!! WOW!! :shocked: Glad you made it out OK. Welcome aboard! :cheers:

-jokester
 

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Well told story and I don't think you are crazy.

Rainy Falls doesn't really have any dangerous hydrolics that I could read. I ran Rainy Falls in the spring of '96 at 40,000 cfs. Our party from OIT had 4 rafts of which none flipped. It was a most excellent ride.
 

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You and your dad are excellent company! I would look forward to running the Rogue again with you.

Thanks for all the kind things you said. As it turned out I don't know EVERY rock on the river. I was trying to fish the top end of Tacoma Riffle creatively...tried to wedge my boat between two rocks, and got it stuck big time. We waded to shore, secured the boat, unloaded it, and with the help of some friendly rafters got it free...but not before turning it on its side and filling it half full of water. Didn't lose anything except one fly box, for which I was grateful. On the way back home driving over Bear Camp, I lost my brakes. We managed to make it down the hill in granny low and with the emergency brake. Turned out to be the master cylinder.

Note to Bugleman: At 40,000 cfs you could have probably run over the top of Inspiration Peak. When was that adventure? Don't think I'd have wanted to be in my drift boat.
 

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Well said.......

Well done, all things being considered

Wellcome

and your right, the world is round............

Hey, didja catch any fish?
 

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Wow! You write really well! That is a great story!
Where is chapter two? :smile:

Jen
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for the thoughts. 40,000 cfs? I now know that the falls are runnable at 4,000 cfs and greater.

Unfortunately, we sort of lost the zeal for fishing and focused my energy on putting the raft on the trailer. Now two weeks removed, I'm ready to fish Although I'm down to a 3 wt, 4wt and 9 wt spey. Waiting on the return of my 6 and 8 wts, could be end of December.

I did fish for a couple hours at Battlebar and hooked a couple of kings and a half pounder on a spey rod using a Grantspastor fly. Next time things will be different!

I just saw the pictures, my dad missed his calling, he has some great shots of me going over the falls. Anyone with a slide scanner?

Spookalotafish

[ 11-04-2003, 05:11 PM: Message edited by: spookalotafish ]
 

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Spookalotafish,
welcome aboard. :grin:
That was an incredible story, well told and well worth the read.

Talk about good KARMA!! Maybe your avatar could be a pic going over the falls!!
I think you and your Dads ADVENTURE would make a great short story novel.
Tight line and welcome to ifish :cheers:
 

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double wow! Let's see somebody top that for first story.
 
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