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Posts Tagged ‘Snake River. wjote-water raftomg’

The two memorable rapids on the Snake River below Jackson, Wyoming, are Kahuna and Lunch Counter. Kahuna was wild when the water was low and Lunch Counter was wild when the water was high, which meant we rafters always had a thrilling ride.

          “Life is like the river. Sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere.” – Emma Smith

          The year was 1983 when I found myself, for the first time, completely on my own. Two marriages, one of 22 years and one of only eight months, were behind me, while my five children had all left the nest and scattered, not just across the country but across the world.

I took both these photos from Lunch Counter — a couple of hours after our groups had passed through this same spot. — Photos by Pat Bean

The freedom turned me giddy, and searching for adventure. I had taken up skiing a few years earlier with my one child still at home. I loved it, but I was a chicken skier who sat down on the snow anytime I thought I might get out of control.

When my final child got married, I soon after followed suit, moving to Nevada, where my new husband and I both worked for the Las Vegas Sun. It was a fun time in my life – for eight months. After the breakup, I ended up as regional editor at the Times News in Twin Falls, Idaho, where I soon went on my first white-water rafting trip. It immediately became a passionate hobby that I indulged in for the next 25 years.

Within a month of my first rafting adventure, I had bought my own, six-person, paddle raft and every weekend, weather permitting, found me and friends floating down the Snake River between Hagerman and Bliss, Idaho.

It was a fun trip, with rapids big enough to thrill but not deadly, or so I thought until the day I forgot to check water levels before launching. It was the day that the irrigation water had been turned off and a resulting gigantic rapid flipped the raft and sent all the passengers scurrying for land — and a five-mile walk back to civilization.

That was the first lesson the river taught me: Never assume!

When I left Twin Falls, the regular summer rafting trips took place on the Snake River below Jackson, Wyoming. I also took two 16-dqy trips through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River — as a paying passenger in which I paddled the first time and was oared down on the second, which was a present to myself on my 60th birthday.

There was also a week-long trip down the Salmon (The River of No Return) one year, plus numerous day trips on other western rivers, including Utah’s Green and Idaho’s Boise and Payette. One mantra of those river trips, especially in the boat I captained, was self-rescue.

While everyone on the raft looked out for each other, everyone knew they were ultimately responsible for themselves. And on the few commercial trips I took, I always had to sign a waiver acknowledging that very same thing.

I came to realize that self-rescue was also a good life-management tool.

But I think the most important thing the rivers gave me, at a time when I desperately needed it, was the confidence to carefully decide on a path of action and then fully commit. There was no sitting down, or turning back, at the top of a rapid – just the thrill at the bottom to know you had faced your fears and done it!

Life, as we are all fully understanding now, has no safety net. I’m thankful for the guts the rivers gave me to live it.

Bean Pat: To all the health workers and everyone else out there who are helping others at the risk of their own lives, and to all those who are currently jobless and struggling to survive isolated at home in an effort to stop this pandemic.

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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