Dying on the Jordan | Buzz Blog

Dying on the Jordan

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The deaths of a middle-aged couple who were first-time kayakers on the Jordan River this weekend is a sobering reminder of just how dangerous that waterway can be to the inexperienced. ---As someone who ventured in with little experience and for a few seconds wondered if I would get out alive, the tragic news of the Sandy couple's demise brought back unpleasant memories.

Reportedly the couple got in at 11400 South and got into difficulties at 6100 South. There's a low bridge at that point which funnels the water into a dangerous rapid and requires significant skill to navigate. It's one of a number of stretches on a river that can look deceivingly peaceful from the bank but can quickly trap the unwary. 

When I was researching a cover story called River Rats for City Weekly last year, despite having an hour-long tutorial from a Jordan river advocate in a calm stretch of water, once I tried to get in the river around 11800 South in seconds I realised how little control I had over the kayak and the direction it was going.

The first time I got in to the kayak I tipped over; the second time, after a nervous start I lost control, rolled over, was dragged out of the kayak and into some low-hanging branches, pulled under the branches and for a few seconds contemplated the possibility of a watery grave.

For all its beauty and serenity while traveling in a boat rowed by someone who knows what he or she is doing - indeed there are fewer valley landscapes more beautiful than the Jordan has to offer in Draper for example - as this weekend's tragic news demonstrates, the river and its treacherous undertows and hidden currents should never be underestimated.

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