BRITISH COLUMBIA - An expert kayaker from Dahlonega was found dead earlier this week after he tried to navigate a challenging stretch of the Stikine River in British Columbia.
Published reports from several sources say 42-year-old Jeff West was the owner of Ace Kayaking School in Ocoee, Tennesee. He grew up in Dahlonega and graduated from Lumpkin County High School in 1988, according to his Facebook page.
West apparently was attempting a one-day solo run down what's known as the Grand Canyon portion of the river. His body was recovered Tuesday after it was discovered by other rafters.
An article in Chatanooga's Times Free Press said that the Stikine is a 350-mile river that flows through northern British Columbia before draining into the Pacific Ocean. Westapparently had successfully navigated the challenging portion of the river before.
The Grand Canyon section of the Stikine runs for 45 miles and contains daunting Class V-VI rapids running between 1,000-foot cliffs. The newspaper said several area kayakers claimed a one-day solo run through this section has never been completed, although West and two others made the trip in a single day in 2010.
According to a website for his business, West had taught more than 5,000 people how to kayak.