Woke up at 7am and we got organized to get to breakfast. We had some free time this morning to browse the shops and I bought a hoodie, t-shirt & cap combo and a shirt. Then it was back to The Wort Hotel so we could meet for our tour of the Jackson Hole Playhouse, which has been in existence since 1916 in the same building. After our quick tour we were taken to their restaurant and given lunch and a bit of a dinner show. After the lunch it was time to get back to our rooms and put on swimsuits under our clothes, and head to the bus to get suited up for our rafting trip.
Jackson Hole has received 700 inches of snow this year, and there is still a lot of it in the mountains. Because of all this melting snow the waters were pretty swift–and it was cold. Oh, and to further add to our Wyoming experience–it was raining. Because the waters were so high and fast, the younger guests on our trip were unable to raft because of safety (more on this as you read on) however they were given the opportunity to do a water float instead in a calmer partof the Snake River. There were 21 of us who went rafting: 19 guests and our two guides (Micheal and Geraldine.)
We went to Barker-Ewing White Water and were given wetsuits, booties for our feet and fleece, and loaded up on the bus for the 40 minute ride to the launch site. At the site we were given rain slickers and pants, and were bundled into life jackets. At this point it was sort of misting, and not raining hard. I didn’t think it was that cold and once we started paddling it would warm us up. There were six boats all together: the ‘green’ boats with Boy Scouts, the ‘red’ rafts with a bunch of adult men in one raft and kids in the other, and our two in ‘blue’ boats. Ahead of us was a guide in a kayak sort of scouting the water.
We loaded up the boat and our guide Mark gave us some instructions on paddling, and told us to work together and listen. We all seemed to be doing pretty well, and floating down the river was nice. The scenery here in Wyoming is beautiful, even to a warm weather/palm tree/beach loving person like me. Anyways, we quickly came upon some rapids and Mark had us paddle while he steered from the back. We made it–but the boat full of adult men were not so lucky. I actually watched them hit a rapid and flip. Now things got interesting, because they had to get back to their boat and it was a safety issue. There was a lot of water, it was cold, and raining. (Very cold, and very rainy by now.) We steered over to them and their second boat had things under control but we had to go find their paddles. As we went down the river with the kayaker we found a couple of paddles, which we gave back to them. No one seemed worse for wear, although they were looking a bit cold.
By now it was pouring, and the rain felt like needles on my face. Some of our group did not have their hood on, but I couldn’t deal with the water running down my neck so I dealt with the hood in my eyes and paddling. We hit several Class III rapids with no problem, but I did think we were going to tip when a wall of water just came crashing into us. The best way to describe this is reverse surfing: you go in to the water as its coming towards you, and you don’t really ride it out. If you ride it out you flip. Plus there’s all sorts of currents and whirlpools, and its best to just keep going.
The ride was about 75 minutes long, and not exhausting at all. (At least I didn’t have any problems.) It finally stopped raining about 3/4 of the way into the trip, and it was nice to just sort of look around at the wilderness. Finally we made it to the debarkation area and we paddled the boat towards the launch, took off our rain gear and life jackets, and walked up the hill to the changing area.
Now here’s the nice part… on the bus we picked up our clothes, and were given towels–and mine was warm. The bus was warm, and we were cold, but it really felt like I had a heated towel. We grabbed our stuff and went to the changing room–which was just an open area in back of a hut. Modesty aside, we quickly dressed in 45 degree weather and got back on the bus.
The ride back was about 30 minutes, and we were dropped off at the Wort Hotel. Marisa and I wanted to see the Jackson Hole shootout in the town square, and we hustled up there and only missed the first few minutes. After that we went to dinner at The Bunnery. She had a veggie burger she really liked, and I had a veggie omelet. Since we were in a bakery I wanted to have some pie, and it was pretty good. On the way out we got some granola for snacking on the next few days. I would return to The Bunnery.
Since the next couple of days would be in the mountains, Marisa went back to the room and I went to buy a windbreaker jacket as the coat I brought was not going to be warm enough. Today’s trip to the river was pretty chilly, and I don’t want to be stuck in Yellowstone without enough clothes.
On Friday we have an early start, with luggage in the hallway at 7:15am. Then breakfast and off to the Grand Teton mountains and Yellowstone. I’m wearing my hiking boots, two shirts, a sweatshirt, and my windbreaker. I’ve even got a Disney theme park poncho is its raining.