His journey was an eye opening experience and a true adventurers accomplishment given his inexperience and lack of outdoor knowledge. He had planned for his journey for months, and after reading countless gear reviews, he finally settled on the gear he would use for his trip. This gear included Watershed Drybags for his most trusted possessions and electronics.
On June 6th, the 4th day of his journey, Keith capsized.
He hit a train trestle beam and his canoe flipped into the Jefferson River. He had not lashed down anything to his canoe. All of his gear, including over $3,000 worth of electronics floated down the river. Luckily he recovered a good majority of his belongings, but one of the bags that got away was his Watershed Ocoee bag which housed most of his expensive electronics including his GPS tracker. The challenge was that the bag was wedged in an almost impossible location to find despite having the GPS coordinates.
Norm and Kris are natural born kind souls who also happen to be outdoors experts! Norm is a staff historian, photographer, and year-round guide for River Source Rafting. He even retraced the entire Lewis & Clark route in 2004- SOLO. After Norm and Kris reviewed the location of Keith’s canoe flip, they speculated the landing point of the Ocoee bag, and set out to find it. Unfortunately he couldn’t paddle to the assumed location of the bag given the high water levels on the Jefferson River during June. Norm decided that he would try to recover the bag later in the summer when water levels receded.
Keith was devastated by the loss of his Ocoee bag and the gear it contained. By day 5, the whole dynamic of the trip had been altered. He had given up on finding his Ocoee bag, and doubted that even if it was retrieved, his gear would be in tact. He wasn’t entirely certain he had even zipped it up properly!
Each time, they came back empty handed. “Who the heck attempts to find another person’s lost belongings on multiple occasions? Norm & Kris do.” said Keith. Finally, on Labor Day, (85+ days after Keith capsized) Norm and Kris’s determination paid off. They finally found Keith’s Ocoee bag! Norm initially thought that the bag was a dead animal due to the muck and foliage covering it… but once he gave it a closer look, he saw the straps and knew that he had found it! Norm picked up the bag. Immediately he thought that it was waterlogged given its weight. He didn’t realize that Keith had packed the Ocoee bag full of electronics.
He couldn’t believe it. Norm and Kris had spent countless hours paddling the river searching for Keith’s lost Ocoee bag, and neither one of them thought that there was any way the contents would survive 3 months in the Montana elements. They were both wrong. Norm contacted Keith and let him know that he found the Ocoee bag. Keith truly felt like an 8 year old on Christmas Day! He was shocked beyond belief. At the time, Keith was some 2000 miles downstream of Montana, (in Missouri ) so Norm shipped the bag over-night to him.
“A big thank you to Watershed and Norm for getting my contents in perfect shape back to me.”
Keith said after telling us his touching testimonial. We are glad to be a part of this wonderful success story and creation of some wonderful river karma! You can read more about this story and Keith’s amazing journey on his blog: http://www.canoevoyage.com/norm-miller-kris-walker-find-the-bag/