Rafting the Snake

I took some vacation time up around Jackson Hole about a week ago with some friends. We did a couple runs on the Snake. There are class I-III rapids on it. The peculiar thing about this river is that there is a highway a couple hundred feet above the river for the entire run, compared to all the runs I’ve done on the Colorado where you’re completely isolated from all mankind for the entire trip. I guess the river wasn’t at it’s peak the weekend we were there. The first run was quite boring. Our guide was snoozing half the time, and guided us onto rocks, and right past the rapids instead of through them. We missed the biggest rapid by enough that the photograph companies that survive on the tourist dollars didn’t even bother taking pictures of us on that run. The 2nd run was a lot better. We hit most of the rapids, and I even got to “ride the bull” through the biggest rapid. This time around the photograph guys took some pictures (click here to see them). Riding the bull means that you sit on top of the raft with your legs dangling off the front, and one arm doing the lasso as you go through. Nobody else would do it, so I climbed on up. I’ve been through plenty of rapids, but never like this. I had my fingers wedged into the O-ring on the front of the raft so tight that there was no chance of being knocked backwards into everybody else on the raft, but I didn’t think of being bounced off the front. We approached the rapid dead center, and slid down into the trough. The whitewater slammed into my chest and broke onto everybody behind me. The front of the raft soared into the air as the back pushed it up and over (note my dangling legs in the 2nd pic). When the front of the raft came down I was bounced forward, and my fingers were ripped free from the o-ring, and I was sent flying through the air (according to witnesses, I went down into the water, and I thought that I would be under the raft, but I swam to the surface anyway. Instead of being under the raft, I was WAY ahead of it. Maybe 100 feet. The raft and I barely met up and got back in before we hit the next set of rapids. It all happened so fast that I barely remember any details, but what I do remember made the trip worthwhile.

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