Down the creek with a paddle

Trip Start Jun 16, 2012
Trip End Jun 30, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Saturday, June 23, 2012

After 3,5 days in Yellowstone National Park and hitting the northern most part of our trip, it was time to head south again. For today on the schedule: Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

There were 2 ways to get there: either via Yellowstone, or stick to the normal roads heading south and then head east over the Grand Teton pass. We opted for the latter since we’d seen just about everything in the Park and there would probably be tons of traffic there since the weekend had arrived. The pass was pretty extreme: inclines of 10% or more. Our car sure got his workout getting up there, and then it was coasting in low gears to not burn out our breaks on the way down.

Our route took us through the middle of nowhere, ID, with all the potato fields and other crops. Apparently Idaho’s no.1 crop is now barley, who knew! Along the way we had to get rid of an unwanted hitchhiker in our car: a big-ass bee/wasp/hornet! Luckily he was satisfied with the location we dropped him off as he flew out the car as soon as we opened the doors....

We arrived in Jackson Hole around 1115am, way early for our white water rafting trip, so we stopped at the yellow arches for a bit of lunch: some hamburgers and an apple pie :-)

The rafting outfit is located in town, but the actual rafting takes place about 25 minutes farther south. In total we had a group of 29 people, ranging from young kids to senior citizens. Most people got wetsuit jackets, but since it was about 85F outside, we decided to rough it and just wear the lifejacket. 

They used a school bus to transport everyone to the launch site, first time school bus riding for me! In less than half an hour we made it to the departure point where we received a quick safety briefing and then it was time to get on board our raft. 

We had a total of 14 people and 1 guide in our raft which was actually quite good since we got seats in the back where you get a little less wet :-). According to Tom (our guide), we would be hitting some category 3 rapids and since there was still quite some snow melting from the mountains there was more water in the river than was normal for the time of year. Yay for us!

After about 5 minutes of floating down the river and practising some paddling in sync, we hit the first rapids of the tour. Fun stuff! The nose of the raft lifts up, then crashes down again and a pile of water comes over the front of the raft soaking everyone in its path. Good for us there’s a couple of large guys in front of us so they take most of the water :-)

First rapids under our belts we make it farther down the Snake river, while Tom narrates about the river, how much water flows through it, what his experience is, etc etc. Cool stuff but we want more action! Soon we are given exactly that, and this time some more extreme ones. My butt is soaked, and at 40F the water is COLD! We dressed for it well though, wearing lightweight clothes that dry quickly, especially since the air temperature is around the 80’s. Long live summer time!

One of the rapids we hit actually has a powerful backflow going on, so much that surfers can ride this wave continuously while staying in the same position relative to the shore. As we made our way towards these rapids, one surfer who saw us coming still decided to ride the wave. Of course surfer and king-size raft don’t go well together, so the surfer loses and washes out. Some swearwords and gesturing later we happily continue on down the river leaving the surfer cold from the water but hot from his temper. Last I checked downstream has right of way so he is SOL.

After about 2 hours we reached the downstream point of the tour where we got on terra firma again. We helped getting the rafts on the trailer as they would go back upstream again for another trip (they do 5 per day), then lifejackets off and back on the bus to go back to Jackson Hole and our car. We had a little heart attack moment as we could not find Heidi’s waterproof camera. It turned up quickly though, so no visual memories lost of this very cool adventure!

Right now we are sitting on the terrace of the outfit, but soon we will be heading towards Dubois, WY where we will spend the night. Then tomorrow the longest driving day towards Denver, CO! We will need to do some research before heading out that way as there apparently are a lot of forest fires going on in Colorado and we don’t want to get caught up in one....


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