Lost Wedding Rings while River Rafting


Lost Wedding Rings while River Rafting

I married into the Crab Apple Whitewater river rafting family in October 1992. We had a beautiful ceremony on a spectacular peak foliage fall day in the fields behind Crab Apple Whitewater. Unfortunately, I did not have my wedding ring re-sized after the ceremony and it was loose for the next six months or so.

In the spring of 1993, I realized that my fingers shrunk a bit in the cold water during the spring training of new river guides. Each day I remembered to take off the ring and hang it on the carabiner that was attached to my life jacket. Actually, I hung it on the carabiner every day … until the day that I forgot. One day that summer I felt the ring slip off as I was river rafting. I immediately noted the exact location by remembering the distance from shore and a white birch tree that was directly across from me on shore.

Later the same day, I returned to the area on the river that the ring was lost. The high flow from the dam’s water release had ended, so the water in this area varied from only knee to thigh deep and was now moving slowly. I quickly lined up the location that I remembered the ring was lost and began to search. The Deerfield River is crystal clear and the sun was shining so I hoped that the gold ring would shine brightly from the river bottom.

Within ten minutes, maybe less, a bright flash caught my eye. I was standing hunched over the river, never having applied the goggles. Sure enough, the flash was the ring and all was right with the world again.

After losing the ring, I planned to get it re-sized so that it would never slide off in the cold river water again. It was the height of the summer river rafting season and I quickly forgot to make a trip to the jeweler. I went back to the daily pattern of taking my ring off just before starting each trip and hanging it on the life jacket. This continued for the remainder of the 1993 season and into the 1994 season.

One day during the summer of 1994, I was participating in some team “water fights” on the river. I tossed a bucket of water at another raft and felt the ring slip off – I had forgotten to attach it to my life jacket. As in the first instance, I immediately noted the exact location when the ring slipped off and I returned later that day at low flows on the Deerfield River. However, this time I was much less confident that I would find the ring. I was thinking that the previous time I located the ring that it was very lucky and that this time the ring would surely be lost to the river.

For this second search, I returned with several helpers – river rafting guides, all of whom were promised dinner if we found the ring. We began searching with goggles and naked eyes in an organized pattern. Again, within minutes I spotted something shiny and pulled the ring out. Amazing! Twice I had found the ring within just a few minutes. We all left the river and had a feast at Rebel’s Restaurant – fried chicken, french fries and chocolate milk shakes. Delicious!

So I got the ring immediately re-sized, right?! No, it was forgotten again and the ring hung in its customary place on my life jacket every day of rafting until the third time it was lost. In March of 1995, I was on the Deerfield River training new river rafting guides. The weather was cold, temperatures in the 30’s, likely causing my fingers to shrink just a bit. We were sitting in a large eddy below the first rapid explaining basic paddle strokes to the new guides when I felt the ring slip off again. I knew this was trouble as the river was very deep in this spot, possibly 15-20 feet deep! Even if we returned for a search when the water was lower after the dam release, it would still be over ten feet deep.

I mentioned to a couple of the river rafting guides and trainees that the ring slipped off. Unbeknownst to me, two of them told me that they were certified divers and would return to the spot and search when the weather was a bit warmer as they did not have gear for cold water dives.

We returned in May and set up for some dives. The divers made three dives each of about 20 minutes. The hole that they were diving into was about 12 feet deep with deeper sections running down between huge boulders. They could not recover the ring as the bottom was a jumble of huge boulders and the ring was likely hidden in a crevice or notch between boulders and obscured from view.

The Deerfield River finally won. The ring was lost for good so I made the trip to the jeweler for a new ring, correctly sized. The new ring is exactly the same as the old ring and is fit so that it can never come off, even in cold conditions on the river.

Frank Mooney
Crab Apple Whitewater

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