A group of kayakers on the Adams River averted a tragedy after a dog was swept away in the raging river.
On May 18, Haig and Janice Vejprava were hiking the Adams River trail, an area they were very familiar with having been seasonal North Shuswap residents for the past 15 years. Hiking with them was Ivory, a two-year-old white lab.
Haig said after the trio encountered another hiker and her dogs at the top of a hill near the trail system’s parking lot, Ivory bolted down a steep cliff and ended up being swept into the fast-flowing water of the river and out of sight.
Haig and the other hiker, Jennifer Neilly, sprinted downstream hoping to find the dog washed up on shore, but had no luck.
The search for the dog continued. Neilly contacted the rangers at Roderick Haig-Brown Park, but their search of likely landing points downstream was in vain. The RCMP and Scotch Creek/Lee Creek Fire Department were contacted. She also met a group of teachers from Salmon Arm, who also abandoned their hike to assist with the search.
Some searchers heard Ivory howling, and soon the dog was located on a small clearing at the base of a steep cliff near where she was pulled into the river. Onlookers then tried to keep the dog calm for four hours as a rescue was planned. Fire Chief Mike Engholm returned to the Scotch Creek Fire Hall for rappel equipment, but Haig said a rappel rescue attempt seemed daunting as there were no trees to properly anchor the equipment.
As day turned to early evening, desperation grew and then there was a chance encounter with Emily Boyes, a whitewater kayaker who had lost her kayak upstream. She was walking back down the trail looking for the lost boat when she came upon the situation and offered up another option for rescuing the dog. Boyes had already enlisted the help of friends and fellow kayakers Maison Cavaliere and Luke Robinson to search for her lost kayak. The search for the kayak was abandoned and a rescue attempt was launched.
The three kayakers entered the river upstream of Ivory and headed to the tiny clearing she had climbed onto. Cavaliere pulled his kayak alongside the tiny shelf of land the dog was clinging to, climbed out and attempted to calm the barking dog down. He was soon successful, but the task ahead was perilous.
The rescuers quickly decided that the only way to get the dog to safety would be for Cavaliere to get in the raging river and swim with Ivory to the safety of the eddy at the Adams River bridge. With the other kayakers providing support to make sure man and dog didn’t get swept into the middle of the river, both made the swim to safety.
Haig said they are thankful for everyone involved in the rescue, especially the kayakers, but are also grateful to everyone who assisted, from those who helped contact the fire department to people who bought bottled water for the searchers.