Reed Finlay’s Day Off

Near the top of Union Pass

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.

About Barker-Ewing Float Trips

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 over 40 years. Wild nature surrounds you on these river rafting trips, floating beneath the Grand Tetons in an area untouched by human development for generations. Our professional boatmen provide a depth of experience to make every trip special on this protected section of the Snake River.


  1. JC on May 19, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Great write up on the first adventure here in western Wyoming…while spring always seems to take forever, it is always great when it arrives! Take care!

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