Sunday, October 2, 2011

Legend of the fall


The only potentially tricky part of our leisurely float trip down the Snake River was supposed to be the Class III rapids at Kahuna and Lunch Counter, just before take out. Kathleen had other ideas.

Pretty early into the float we enter a benign whitewater stretch called the Esses (you know, plural "S"). I'm trying to figure out how to operate my cheap credit-card-sized video camera when there's a jolt and Kathleen's foot is somewhere up around my chin. I turn to my right and, sure enough, the rest of her is about halfway out of the boat.

Sharon, who is sitting in front of Kathleen mostly facing her, is grasping at whatever part of Kathleen she can reach. I have the camera in my left hand and, not wanting to damage this $40 piece of technology, I'm grabbing mostly with my right, trying to haul her back into the boat.

"Grab her vest!" yells Martin, our guide, who is busy with the paddles. Makes good sense, so I grab the back of Kathleen's vest and Sharon and I help her get vertical again.

That was fun! (Actually, it really was.)

Sadly, not only had I not figured out how to operate the camera, but I never did. The rest of the trip includes another half-dozen whitewater sections and all we have are memories.

This section of the Snake River above Palisades Reservoir is packed with commercial float trippers all summer, but this is early October and we have the river nearly to ourselves. There's a light rain at lunchtime, but otherwise it's unseasonably warm and the fall colors add to a beautiful day. The river is running at 5,000 cubic feet per second (compared to the early summer peak of 20,000 cfs), but we still encounter plenty of four-foot waves and we giggle our way through the float.

Kahuna and Lunch Counter seem relatively tame, perhaps because by the time we reach them we've learned to actually hold on with both hands. Sharon has taken to crouching at the bow of the boat and facing the river head on (which we liken to bull riding), so she usually takes the brunt of the big splashes. Kathleen grabs the inside of my thigh with her left hand and a rope on the side of the boat with her right, which is just fine with me.

At the end, there are champagne, strawberries and dry clothes. Eventually, the legend of Kathleen's fall will grow epically in the telling.

1 comment:

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