Missing kayaker found, keeping Rapid Creek open for fun by being safe

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 5:54 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Kayaking has many forms that range from tranquil peaceful all the way to extreme and thrilling.

Rapid City has a rapid seeking scene on none other than Rapid Creek. A scene that Justin Herreman, the Vice President of the Black Hills Paddlers and Kayak Instructor, is happy to be a part of.

“It’s super fun to be able to surf and splat and make your boat do some cool tricks,” says Herreman.

A Kayaker recently went missing, and has since been found. He was in a notorious place higher up the canyon that is both deceivingly long and where the pace of water picks up called the “Dark Canyon Section.”

“It’s not accessible. The only way to get out is strapped on a backboard or via a helicopter flight,” says Herreman.

Because Justin has been boating for decades, he doesn’t want to see people get hurt or for the creek he loves to to be shut down.

“There are potentially places that if you don’t maneuver the boat the way you need to there’s high potential for you to get injured or even die,” says Herreman.

“Class two is pretty much what we see here,” says Herreman pointing at a slower section of the creek, “Where there’s moving water. There’s a few boulders. There’s a few places where you might have to navigate your boat.”

They range as high as class five, which is treacherous water only meant to be attempted by skilled boaters. As for the section the kayaker was recently found, “you really need to be a class 3, class 4 boater to do that safely. Also, you should never kayak moving water alone,” says Herreman.

Alone was the man when he was found on the Dark Canyon section.

Justin calls the section mungy. Which is just boater speak for dangerous looking. If you follow some safety precautions, then danger factors become far less threatening.

“Make sure people are wearing a proper PFD or life jacket, and if you’re on moving water you should be wearing a helmet to protect your head as well,” says Herreman.

He also says to pack a first aid kit and an emergency blanket to prepare for the eventuality that something does go wrong. And again, don’t go alone.

“You want to make sure that you’re paddling with people that you trust,” says Herreman, “and are experienced and have the ability to help rescue you in the event that something does go wrong.”

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