Raft stops dead in Tombstone rapid
No one injured
By Ivy Vogel
Post Independent Staff
A Rock Gardens Rafting oar raft was stuck in the Shoshone section of the Colorado River for more than an hour Wednesday morning. The raft got stuck on a rock after five trainee river guides and one instructor got turned around in their boat while maneuvering through the Tombstone rapid.
A paddle boat of trainees from Blazing Paddle Raft Trips paddled into an eddy below the rock to help the five trainees out of the boat. The instructor remained on the rock to help remove the 300-pound raft.
To remove the raft, trainees and instructors from two other Rock Gardens rafts created a z-drag. A z-drag is a pulley system from the boat to the shore that anchors the boat in three different places, said Kristin Layton, a trainer from Rock Gardens. More than 20 instructors and trainees who were on the shore used the pulley system to yank the boat out off the rock.
Rock Gardens is one of many rafting companies that take visitors through the Tombstone rapid.
Layton said rafts rarely get stuck in that area.
To be prepared for any situation, Rock Gardens requires its new guides to undergo a two-week training course to learn how to read the river. They learn which paths are safe to take through the river, as well as which rocks are safe to go over. The raft strayed to the left of the designated path, Layton said.
Trainees start out in flat water to learn how to maneuver the boat. Once they’re comfortable with the boat, they go in the river. Trainees also learn how to rescue swimmers.
Completing the two-week program doesn’t guarantee all 14 trainees will become guides, Layton said.
Matt McNutt of Texas is one of Rock Gardens’ trainees. McNutt, who was in the boat ahead of the raft that got pinned, said the group was on the river at 8:30 a.m and the boat got stuck at about 10:15 a.m.
“I guess that in training pretty much anything can happen,” McNutt said.
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