After their raft flips in the cold waters of the South Fork Boise River, Russ Campbell and Amy Gerver cling to the upside down raft through a long rapid. They are experienced rafters and are dressed in “Farmer John” neoprene wetsuits, neoprene booties, neoprene gloves, waterproof paddle jackets, life jackets, and helmets. However, within only a few minutes in the very cold water, they are unable to respond to instructions, or swim to shore. They die soon thereafter of hypothermia or drowning. Their unfortunate deaths have been a catalyst for my research into water temperature ranges, survival time in cold water, and protective clothing for cold water boating.
Water temperatures March – July, in the Northern Rockies. These temperatures are a summary of measurements taken on Fish Creek, a tributary of Idaho’s Lochsa River, and at the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery near Stanley on Idaho’s Salmon River.Fish Cr. measurements, courtesy of Idaho Dept of Fish & Game, Alan Byrne 1998 ( My Lochsa River pundits tell me Fish Cr. is one of Lochsa River’s warmer tributaries. I use it because of good temperature data from Steelhead study). Salmon River measurements, mean temps 1999-2000, courtesy of Sawtooth Fish Hatchery, Idaho Dept of Fish & Game