Trip Report: Sandy River - New Years Day, 2020 - ~7000 cfs

New Year's Day Sandy River Float with Team River Runner

Submitted by Christa Wakefield


Photos by Julie Nathe, Rachel Starr, Scott Harvey


A Last Float with River Friends, Written by Crista Wakefield

When I agreed to write the trip report for the New Year run down the Sandy River I was planning on writing about the spike in river levels, the number of swims, the carnage, etc. but what I’m really going to remember from this run is that it is the last time I saw Dan Alsup and Jane Heineman.
I arrived at the put in, late as usual, and as I walked to the river the first person to greet me was Riverman Dan. He gave me a big hug and asked why I wasn’t at the party the night before. I was amazed at his energy and that he made it to the river ready to go even after partying. We talked about his trip to Thailand and how we should go boating when he got back.

That was Dan, Always ready with a hug and a smile. Trips with Dan were always an experience full of good times and stories. He was always encouraging me to learn and grow both on the river and off.  Many of my Dan memories take place in his river kitchen, more than once I stumbled in looking for coffee and Dan stuck a knife in my hand and told me to chop onions. It takes a very bold and daring soul to hand me a knife before I’ve had coffee. That was Dan. Dan had a great passion for what he did and loved sharing that passion with others.

While waiting for the shuttle to be set up I got to visit with Jane while I helped untie some knots in her tag lines. It took two people and a pair of pliers to get those damn knots out. I was treated to some great swim stories for my efforts. Jane is a river legend and was determined to get out and do what she loved no matter what. Dan was instrumental in getting Jane out on the water. I’m certain that Riverman Dan and Jane have already found a river to run and are raising hell on it. 

Floating the Sandy on No Sleep, Written by Kimberly Long

I arrived at Dodge park on New Year’s morning after only 2-3 hours of sleep.  I may have still had glitter in my hair and some stray sequins as part of my river outfit. With the help of the crowd around my boat was unloaded and ready to go.  Crista showed up to the put-in a bit late, which was a bonus for me, as I was happy to have a passenger on my boat for the day instead of rowing solo.  The water level on New Years Eve was low (under 800cfs if I recall correctly), but expected to rise overnight.  It was raining and warm, melting the fresh snow.  Rise it did!  When we put in the Sandy was at 6,870cfs when we launched and 7,320cfs at takeout (water level data from Scott Harvey, who I hear is accurate about these things).  What a beautiful and fun river run!   I didn’t take a count of the number of boats, but it was a smaller crew than expected for this annual run.  There were a few rowers in round boats (including mine), paddle boats, catarafts, IKs, and a kayaker. A few drysuits were forgotten and a least 1 wet boater as a result.  There was some confusion about exactly how many swimmers there were - at least 5, perhaps 7, including an end-over-end  flipped cat, a rower launched from his raft while his passenger remained, and some IK and kayak swims.  Crista and I stayed in my boat without incident - whew! We were rained on (pretty hard) early on, but the skies cleared for some sun during the run.  When we arrived at Oxbow park, pulled pork, BBQ chicken, and other goodies were waiting for us.  The potluck was an opportunity to fill our bellies with good food and our minds and hearts with conversation with good people.  

The New Year’s Day float is an annual event with Team River Runner, an organization that gets disabled veterans out on river adventures.   A huge thank you to Val Shaull and Juli Nathe for organizing and having things ready for us at the takeout.  Val told me this event has been going on for 35ish years and he has been organizing it for 15. I know what I’ll be doing on New Year’s Day in future years - I might need to go easier on the NYE celebrations and get more sleep though.  If you are interested in learning more about Team River Runner, go to