Sunday, September 5, 2010

Whitewater Canoeing on the Snake

I awoke Friday morning to another bright, beautiful day. It was cold to start but warmed up nicely. On my way to arrange for my canoe rental, I was stopped by a Park Ranger for going 60 in a 45 mph zone. My first speeding ticket, ever! Oh well, it doesn't get reported to Mass (whew!) and it didn't turn out to be a bad omen. I had a great day on the river.

After getting the canoe, I took the picture that has been made famous by Ansel Adams with the reflection of the Tetons in the Snake River.
After meeting Bill and Julie and their family from Oregon, we spotted my car downtream at Deadman's Bar and put the canoes in a the junction of Pacific Creek on the Snake River.

While I've done a few whitewater canoe trips with Art up in Maine that actually involved Class III waters, it turned out that this experience was quite different! First of all, it was a very strong current 3 mph for most of the trip and the rips were all Class I and quickwater, except for a Class II just before the takeout. But what made it particularly difficult was that I was soloing in the canoe which can be difficult. At times, I was struggling to keep the craft going downstream due to some wind. Therefore, I was unable to get many pictures. But I did see a bald eagle fly overhead.

But what turned out to be the real challenge is that this river is REALLY a snake. It is a braided river meaning that the gravel in the river shifts constantly revealing as many as five different paths at times and you need to choose wisely! If you choose the wrong channel, you run out of water and may have to drag back upstream. I did well. Of the 20 decision points, only twice did I end up dragging a bit, but had enough water to keep going! The old strategy of choosing the outside channel which almost always works in Maine, doesn't seem to matter much out here!

After returning the canoe, I found an awesome restaurant with a bar that had a panoramic view out a glass wall of the entire front range of the Tetons! What a great place for a well-deserved pint!

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