Adventurous researcher dies riding rapids

After a weekend of extreme inner tubing with friends, Adam Bodine insisted on pushing his limits against the strength of the Feather River. Just before the group of 16 was packing up to leave, on Sunday, July 29, Bodine decided to make one more run through the rapids between Bald Rock Dome and the Middle Fork.

“Adam was in front pretty much the whole way [on the trip]. He was going for it, and that’s pretty much how he lived his life,” said his friend John Lane. But when Bodine flew from his inner tube into the whitewater and didn’t come up immediately, Lane said, “we knew right away.” The group tried to rescue him, but he was presumed to have quickly drowned.

Lane was Bodine’s partner in Geo Specialists, a group of “environmental scientists” that was profiled in the Chico News & Review in April 1999. Bodine, 34 at the time of his death, had gotten together crews to seek out new species in caves and rainforests and thus get those lands designated as protected by foreign governments. The nonprofit’s 1996 mission to catalog undiscovered creatures in the caves of Borneo was chronicled in National Geographic and on the Outdoor Life Network.

The rafters on last weekend’s trip were no novices, Lane said. They carried helmets, life jackets, ropes and other gear. They even went over treacherous Curtain Falls at Bodine’s urging. “Everyone was just having the time of their lives,” Lane said.

“When we do these things, we know there is a risk,” Lane said, his voice betraying the fact that no one really fathomed just how great that risk was until they lost their friend. “It was a fluke thing. Everyone had forged that rapid. Adam wanted one last one.”

The Butte County Sheriff’s Department and CDF/Butte County Fire jointly reported that an effort to recover Bodine’s body, which was determined to have lodged beneath a rock, had failed.

Lane, who now lives in Petaluma, said that recently Bodine had been approached to do more research in Sumatra and lead a caving expedition in New Guinea.