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Montana rafting guide urges life jackets while on the river

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Posted at 6:11 PM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-10 10:44:11-04

ABSAROKEE — A day after authorities recovered the body of a woman who went missing on the Stillwater River after a rafting trip, it’s business as usual in Absarokee on Thursday for local rafting companies. Although they emphasize having the right gear makes all the difference in the world.

White water rafting is a great way to explore the outdoors if it’s done safely, said Tim Hedin, the head raft guide at Absaroka River Adventures in Absarokee.

“We had trips canceled because of the incident and that’s what’s frustrating to us. We are professionals, this is what we do,” said Hedin.

Hedin has been rafting on the Stillwater River for nearly three decades.

“My condolences go out to the family and it’s a tragedy that it happened. But frankly, to be honest, they weren’t in proper gear, they weren’t dressed,” said Hedin.

The Stillwater River was 48 degrees Thursday, and that water was running at about 3,000 cubic feet per second. Hedin says those are safe conditions if you’re prepared.

“It’s just too cold to be swimming out in that water, and they experienced that. And then except for the small child, no one was wearing life jackets,” said Hedin.

He says wearing the right gear and protective equipment is key when rafting white water like the Stillwater River. This includes wearing a wet suit and a life jacket.

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“I don’t care how strong you are, how good you think you can swim. In this cold water, the water moving, you need to have a life jacket,” said Hedin.

Even if you are an experienced swimmer, you never know what can happen. Fallen trees and logs can change the way the river runs.

“You just got to be prepared because the situation is always changing on a river,” said Hedin.

He says, however, that’s part of the fun.

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“This is the best time to come out is right now. Don’t be afraid because of an event that happened. As long as you know what you’re doing, you’re geared up, you’re going to have the best time. That’s why I’ve done it for 25 years. Not because it’s not fun, it’s cause it’s awesome,” said Hedin.

If you're interested in booking a white water rafting trip with Absaroka River Adventures, visit
Absaroka River Adventures - Raft Trips, Raft Rentals.