Edwards man dies in Wash. kayak accident
Special to the Vail Daily
VAIL — Area residents were saddened to learn over the weekend of the death over the weekend of 20-year-old Logan Jauernigg, of Edwards.
Jauernigg, a 2013 graduate of Battle Mountain High School, drowned Friday in a kayaking accident on the Green Truss section of the White Salmon River in Washington state.
As of Sunday, official reports had yet to be released from the Klickitat County Search and Rescue. A kayaker who was with Jauernigg at the time of the incident said Jauernigg was separated from his kayak in the Zigzag Canyon rapid, and his body was subsequently pinned underwater.
Jauernigg was the third in a group of three kayakers who entered the rapid one at a time.
The Green Truss section of the White Salmon River is classified as Class V, or most difficult whitewater by American Whitewater. The Zigzag Canyon rapid consists of Upper Zigzag and Lower Zigzag, both approximately 200 yards long requiring expert navigation.
“They are the type of rapids where it is difficult to offer any assistance, so you are pretty much on your own until you get to the recovery pool at the bottom,” reads the rapids description on the American Whitewater website.
Jauernigg lived in the Columbia River Gorge area from September to December of 2014 and was very familiar with the Green Truss section of whitewater, having completed the run approximately 20 times.
A kayaker who was with Jauernigg on Friday and also with him throughout his stay in the area in 2014 said Jauernigg was very confident in the rapid and knew every move well. The had group already descended what is considered more challenging rapids on the Green Truss, such as Big Brother — a 30-foot waterfall — and Double Drop, a set of ledge drops that stack on top of one another.
Despite being regularly paddled for more than 20 years, at least three other deaths have occurred on the Green Truss, including two in Zigzag Canyon, one in 1994 and one in 2012. The other death occurred upstream on Big Brother falls in 1997. Kayakers in all three incidents were described as being of expert ability.
Jauernigg, along with another local kayaker and a local sports photographer, was in the Pacific Northwest documenting descents on various rivers for a film project.
According to the film’s website, the film, titled “Type II,” was to explore “whitewater kayaking and the emotional and psychological process of adventure athletes pushing the envelope.” They planned to spend two weeks camping along the rivers of Washington and Oregon.
The day before the incident, the group successfully navigated the Little White Salmon, largely considered by the paddling community as one of the most legendary and challenging stretches of Class-V whitewater in America.
Tearfully, the community with which Jauernigg surrounded himself is coping with the news of his passing by revisiting their fondest memories of a guy extraordinary in nature.
“In a situation like this, like dealing with losing someone I love, the one person I would want to talk to or be with, is Logan,” said Annika Heid, a senior at Battle Mountain High School. “He is almost indescribable. He was the most optimistic person I ever met. He was always on to the next adventure. He was always putting 100 percent into everything he did. I have never met anyone like him.”
Most who knew Jauernigg had their best memories with him outside. Erik Warmenhoven, a 2012 Vail Mountain School graduate, remembers how Jauernigg’s kind, laid back personality mixed well with his outdoor interests.
“We climbed a lot mostly. We did a bunch of skiing together,” Warmenhoven said. “Everything he did, I did. We would go four-wheeling together, or camping. We were always outside.”
Warmenhoven recalls how when he left for school, he would connect with Jauernigg every couple of months over the phone. The call would last for hours as they caught each other up on all they had missed.
“Logan was going to do whatever he was going to,” Warmenhoven said. “I miss him. I’ll miss talking to him. I’ll miss just being around him, being outside with him. If feels like there is a big absence when I go outside right now.”
Heid said she will also remember how Jauernigg pursued adventure, finding new things to do and new places to go.
“I am going to miss everything about him,” Heid said. “I hope that everyone, even the people who didn’t get the chance to know him, will always remember him for the extraordinary person he was.”