By CHRIS PETERSON Hungry Horse News
Jared Jimmerson has kayaked over bigger waterfalls in his earlier years, but Glacier National Park’s Running Eagle Falls is one he says he probably won’t do again – at least not anytime soon. The 2007 Columbia Falls graduate survived a trip over the falls in Two Medicine on June 14.
“That’s the biggest hit I’ve taken,” he said. “It knocked the wind out of me.”
Jimmerson’s descent, the second known descent of Running Eagle Falls, can be seen online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2-r-lMJ8j4. In the video, it looks like he crashed into rocks on the side of the raging falls, swollen with spring runoff, and then disappeared entirely only to pop up at the bottom upside down. It’s not until he righted his kayak that the viewer knows he’s OK. It wasn’t exactly the line he envisioned.
“I was trying to go a little more left,” he said. “But it ended up a pretty good line. The water was pushing so hard, I had to go right.”
Jimmerson said just getting into the kayak was an adventure. He had to hike up a hill to the top of the falls and then descend through cliffs to a small eddy where he could set his craft. At one point he cliffed out – he couldn’t go up or down. He got himself out of the jam and lowered himself into the kayak. Once he pushed off, there was no turning back.
Jimmerson said he scouted the route the day before with friend and fellow kayaker Shay Wieringa, but the creek came up significantly overnight. Wieringa and friends Maddy Niermeyer and Libby Tobey were on hand to help if something were to go wrong. One was in a kayak and another had a throw rope.
Jimmerson had an additional worry – the falls has a cave at the bottom and he didn’t want to get sucked into it.
Jimmerson’s father is noted Columbia Falls painter Allen Jimmerson. He said his father’s paintings of the falls inspired the run.
At lower water levels, Running Eagle Falls is known for its unique rock formation, which makes it appear as if there are two waterfalls. It was formerly known as Trick Falls.
Jimmerson said he’s done longer descents on bigger waterfalls, including an 85-footer in Oregon, but so far Running Eagle was the most daunting. He said he plans on running more falls, including Natural Bridge Falls on the Boulder River in Montana, which has a 105-foot drop.
“I’m definitely not done yet,” he said.
Park spokeswoman Ellen Blickhan said the creek is not closed to boating, but Park officials don’t “encourage or recommend such activity.”