Nisqually River is a killer

June 13th, 2008 by Ken

Recent news events about loss of life on the Nisqually River got me thinking about my own experiences on that deadly river.

When I was 13 years old, another boy and I, whose name I no longer remember, were at an office party at a house on the river.  We decided to take a boat and row up the Nisqually River until we got to McAllister Springs.  We had never seen the springs and we wanted to find it.  So we took off.

After several hours, we decided we’d never find the springs and besides, it was getting hard work rowing up-river and we were tired.  It was also getting dark and we knew our parents would be looking for us.

We were right.  Not only were they looking for us, but so were dozens of others.  After we were found missing, the call went out and volunteers as well as law enforcement officials had started a search.  

Needless to say, we were in deep trouble.

My next experience with the Nisqually River came when I was 20 and stationed at Ft. Lewis.  The Army decided to put some of us in rubber rafts and send us down the river for a training exercise.  Most of the soldiers were in 20-man rafts.  I had the fortune or misfortune of being in a four-man raft.

It was late Spring and the river was running high and fast, just like this week.

About mile after our put-in spot and probably about a mile from the Delta, our raft hit a log jam and went under upside down.  We were all wearing life jackets and none of us suffered any more injuries than a few scratches but much of our equipment was lost.  I managed to hang on to my rifle but I did lose my glasses.

That experience on the Nisqually taught me how difficult that river can be.  Even some members of the Nisqually Tribe, who live along the river, have drown in its swift moving waters.

The most recent deaths involved people with no experience, in the wrong type of water craft and without any life jackets.  Any one of those is a recipe for danger alone, but add in alcohol and you’ve got disaster.

The Nisqually River comes straight off of Mt. Rainier.  At this time of year snow-melt makes the river fast and cold.  Add in floating debris, brush and logs and you have a very dangerous river.  I know, from personal experience. 

Posted in Informational, The Real News

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