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When I was in the area in September, I heard similar numbers from the local authorities who run those operations.
” I dropped my pack and walked along the river’s edge, meandering between gravel bars and yellowing willows as the low sun gilded the water.Johnson stayed in the water, which lingers at temperatures just above freezing, for 15 minutes.Grigg was finally able to pull him out of the current just before he hit a stretch of Class V rapids.He waded back out to try and rescue Ackermann, but it was too late—she had already drowned.He cut her loose and swam with her body 300 yards downstream, where he dragged her to land on the river’s far shore. Ackermann, who was from Switzerland, and Gros, a Frenchman, had been hiking the Stampede Trail, a route made famous by Christopher Mc Candless, who walked it in April 1992.On the isolated shore of the Savage River, in the backcountry of interior Alaska, there’s a small memorial to a deceased woman named Claire Ackermann.
A pile of rocks sits on a metal plaque with an inscription that reads, in part: “To stay put is to exist; to travel is to live.” Three years ago, Ackermann, 29, and her boyfriend, Etienne Gros, 27, tried to cross the Teklanika River, a couple of miles west from the Savage.
They tied themselves to a rope that somebody had run from one bank to the other, to aid such attempts.
The Teklanika is powerful in summertime, and about halfway across they lost their footing.
One last hiker, Rick Johnson, remained in the water, unable to get out.
He was the farthest from either bank when he lost his footing and fell into the water, making his swim more arduous.
Grigg chased him downstream, trying to keep one eye on his bobbing head, but because the bank rises into bluffs and cliffs, he sometimes couldn’t tell where Johnson was.