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Of iPhones and capsized kayaks

Yosemite River
MinnPost photo illustration by Corey Anderson

SOUTH OF LIVINGSTON, MONT. — The bad news is that my iPhone died.

The good news is that I did not die.

I was kayaking with a friend on the Yellowstone River a few miles south of Livingston, Mont. In a nasty stretch of white water, he capsized first, floated downstream and crawled out onto the right bank. Still in my kayak, I got to the left bank and grabbed onto a tree branch. I called 911 on my iPhone and learned that Search & Rescue only comes if you’re actually in the water, not in your boat. Out of options, I let go of the tree branch and started paddling into some very fast water. Within five seconds I too capsized — meeting the eligibility requirement.

After a few unpleasant interactions with branches extending into the water from the shore, I managed to grab one and get out of the water. Since the iPhone was now dead, I walked to a road, where I got a ride. No serious injuries, except hurt pride. One kayak recovered, one still trapped in a tree somewhere south of Carter’s Bridge. Trusting in the power of media, we’re placing a lost-and-found ad in the biweekly Livingston Current. Reward for retrieval.

My dead iPhone is currently buried in uncooked rice on recommendation of Karl Pearson-Cater, MinnPost Director of Operations. We are both dubious.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Barry Wilderman on 08/05/2009 - 01:27 pm.

    I was the aforementioned friend. What Joel fails to add is that he had already rescued me once when I got stuck on some rocks, and attempted to help me a second time when I capsized. So, here are my lessons learned:

    Be grateful for good friends.

    Check your weather conditions.

    Check the ability of your friends (me) to operate in those conditions.

    Put your cell phones in a plastic bag.

    Breath a sigh of relief when you crawl out to shore.

    Consider carrying weatherproof heavy gloves. Why? Local Montanans, who live between you and the road, often have a fondness for barbed wire.

  2. Submitted by Mike Keliher on 08/06/2009 - 07:01 am.

    Also, wear a lifejacket. (I assume you both were, considering your apparently still-alive-ness.)

  3. Submitted by Joel Kramer on 08/06/2009 - 09:17 am.

    We were wearing lifejackets.

  4. Submitted by Scott Johnson on 08/10/2009 - 02:01 pm.

    As far as the iPhone is concerned – my iPhone is also sitting in a bag of rice due to an unfortunate swimming incident.

    I’ve read that silica gel packets work better than rice to dry out electronics ( One website I found last night recommended buying silica kitty litter, but I’m going with a few pouches I purchased online.

    Here’s hoping we’re successful with our rice.

  5. Submitted by Joel Kramer on 08/11/2009 - 11:24 am.

    Rice didn’t suffice.

  6. Submitted by Scott Johnson on 08/14/2009 - 01:42 pm.

    Rice didn’t do much for my iPhone either, but the silica gel seems to have done the trick.

    Everything works after two days in the bag with ~ 20 little packets. The only problem now is a little condensation on the screen. Hopefully another day in the bag will take care of it.

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