As the summer rafting season on the Snake River slowly fades to autumn, we hear the cry of the wild geese as they fly in squadrons overhead. With winter approaching, these mighty birds wing their way southward in massive v-shaped wedges. Some geese will remain in Jackson Hole, finding the few choice spots of wintering habitat that our valley has to offer. But most will fly to wet grasslands in the southern United States to enjoy rich vegetation, fish, and insects throughout the winter months. …continue reading Our River Guides are on the Move
Summers are warmer now compared to when I started rafting in the early 1980’s. And we have less water. To the untrained eye, Grand Teton’s Snake River looks fast and deep, but it’s deceptive. At Dead Man’s Bar, our float trip launch point, the river is confined to one narrow channel and moves along quickly due to an eighteen feet per mile gradient. Once the river starts braiding and splitting, the water gets quite shallow. At this time of year, we’re often navigating river flows that are around 3,000 cfs (that’s cubic feet of water per second). In contrast, during the spring snowmelt in late June, we might see flows of up to 14,000 cfs. Why the large difference? The Snake River’s flow is regulated by a dam built in 1916, prior to the formation of the park. The flows we see are maintained in a complicated balancing act between flood control to protect local subdivisions along the river, recreational needs in Jackson Hole, and agricultural uses in Idaho. …continue reading Tiny Invaders
Now that summer is in full swing, we have decided to add a special early morning float two days a week. We will be offering a 6:30 am trip on Tuesdays and Thursdays from now through August 22nd.
This is for those of you who are early risers, as this is a lovely time to be on the water. Also for those of you who (like me) don’t like the summer heat, this is the coolest time of the day to be on the river. I hope there are a few of you hardy early risers who want to enjoy the peaceful quiet of the early morning float.
I recently read a post on the O.A.R.S. blog–20 reasons why a Rafting Trip is the Perfect Family Getaway. I love what river runner Ben Curnett wrote:
You don’t have much time. No one does. It’s why vacations are so important. You’ve got to make every second count. But you don’t want to be in “hurry up and relax”-mode the whole time.”
This spring I made a road trip down to the Red Desert of Wyoming. It was a pleasant trip and a beautiful area. By the time I made it back home, however, I was pretty exhausted. Yet anytime I do a rafting trip—and they always require the longest drives and shuttling logistics—I never feel more at ease, content, and peaceful. I come home elated and alive, and ready to tackle life!
Maybe it’s leaving the car behind and setting foot in a world without engines and traffic and electrical outlets? Once you are on a raft, nature is in the driver’s seat. No speed limits to obey, 4-way stops to navigate, just the flow of the river. It’s as if nature is reminding us that time (as we are all obsessed with it on our devices) isn’t a specific arrangement of numbers. And if we’re in too much of a hurry, and don’t take a moment to enjoy the moment, well, then we’ve really missed the boat!
Enjoy summer and all it has to offer; but be sure to make time to let time go…..for me, after 10 years of rafting adventures on the Snake River and beyond, I know exactly where I can find that.
~Laura, B&E office
Established in 1963, Barker-Ewing Float Trips has been sharing the beauty and wonder of Grand Teton National Park with visitors from around the world for 50 years, floating beneath the Grand Tetons on the headwaters of the Snake River.
Summer is just around the corner! We will be starting our 2012 season on Friday, May 18th.
Our head boatman, Reed Finlay, is no Ferris Bueller. He started floating with us in 1994 and has now racked up 27,080 river miles on commercial trips. On the last day of the 2011 summer season, instead of adding 20 more miles to his river logbook, Reed instead put 200 miles on his bike. (As a point of reference the Tour de France typically averages 110 miles a day.) Reed’s “Tour de Wyoming” made the average day at “le Tour” look like a cake walk!
Reed left Jackson (elevation 6,234) on his mountain bike at roughly 6:15 am. He rode almost 80 miles on his road bike (down south to Hoback junction, southeast past Bondurant to “Forty Rod Road,” then north to the edge of the Bridger Teton National Forest), where he swapped out to his mountain bike. There are some really rocky, steep stretches on the Union Pass Road, let me tell you! Nearly 48 miles of dirt road brought him out onto Highway 26/287. Togwotee Pass, at an elevation of 9,658 is the third highest mountain pass in Wyoming (Union pass is the fourth at 9,212). Reed started up Togwotee Pass around 8:00 pm.
It was a dark night, with very little road traffic (although plenty of road construction areas!). There were two more bike changes (back and forth from mountain bike to road bike) that occurred over the next 76 miles. Other than the occasional rendezvous with a support vehicle, the herds of elk that he could see with his headlamp along the road were his only companions that long, lonely night. Luckily, he only had to change one flat tire over the entire day, which was brought to a finish back in Jackson at 3:00 am.
On Leap day this year (2012), Reed and his wife Rebecca welcomed their first child into the world. I therefore rather doubt that he will be having many more “days off” like this any time soon. However, knowing Reed, I am quite sure that his days off this summer will still be very active, and with his son Kershaw on his back, he won’t be lonely on that road anymore.