Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue had 25 rescuers respond to an incident on the Mad Mile over the weekend which left one rafter injured. PHOTO COURTESY GALLATIN COUNTY



The infamous stretch of the Gallatin River north of Big Sky – affectionately and appropriately called the Mad Mile – took some experienced rafters for a wild ride over the weekend.

Dick Hennessy wrote in response to a post about House Rock on the Gallatin River Task Force’s Facebook page that run off can frequently cover House Rock – a particularly sketchy challenge on the Mad Mile.

“Usually, around June 6th, if it happens at all,” he wrote on May 26 before stating white water enthusiasts should be careful. Sure enough, on June 6th, his warning of House Rock proved almost prophetic.

The indomitable rock spilled two of three rafters into the water and left the third going down river with no paddles. All were in precarious situations.

Gallatin County 911 received reports from numerous callers about the situation and 25 rescuers with the Gallatin County Sheriff ’s Search and Rescue responded, according to Capt. Jeremy Kopp, Commander of Gallatin County Search and Rescue.

“There are all of the layers, the command team, swift water, helicopter team, alpine team to work ropes, the chaplain [to help with the family if things go badly],” he said. “When we do a SAR event, it is a rare day there are less than 20 people involved.”

Two of the rafters were unharmed and one sustained a neck injury and was transported to Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital by the Big Sky Fire Department, a press release stated.

The sheriff ’s office gets a few calls every year for white water enthusiasts in trouble from the turbulent waters.

He said right now there is a cross section of experienced rafters/kayakers and then some of those experienced people are taking novice paddlers and rafters out.

“We’ve had heart attacks on there, other injuries, straight rescues when people have lost all their kit and headed down the river,” he said. “It is not amateur hour right now – it is just for professionals.”

He has a few requests of those brave enough to attempt the Mad Mile. Mark equipment so it can be recovered and returned.

“If you lose your raft or lose your kayak, let us know,” he said.

When a kit is lost, and the kayaker or rafter does not notify the sheriff ’s office that they are okay and just lost their equipment, then the office gets multiple calls and SAR mobilizes.

“If we don’t know that everyone is okay, we have to assume that everybody is not,” he said. “If we know right away that you lost your kit, that’s okay. We can create one event and work with you [to retrieve your equipment].”

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