Summer came and went as quickly as I thought, It may be too hot. It seemed like there were only a few days when it was appropriately hot in Jackson, but whenever it was, we took full advantage. It was nice to get some use out my wetsuit again. We set out to SUP String Lake in Grand Teton National Park, nestled in the shadow of the mountains. This is an adventure I recommend to anyone who enjoys an awesome view.
The next hot day we ventured down the river. We upped the ante a bit, running the canyon in kayaks. I am not very good at whitewater, and frankly terrified of it, so I was put in a duckie. A duckie is the tricycle of the kayaking world. Flipping one is practically impossible, and the entire thing is a giant squishy cushion. In this manner, I grimaced my way through the rapids.
Rob, the brave one, tried out packrafting by paddling a superlight watercraft that packs down to the size of a large water bottle through the huge holes in the river. It was a little unnerving watching him bob around in what seemed to me like a thin balloon compared to my beast of a water craft, but he managed to get through even the big stuff without swimming.
The team was rounded out by two really skilled kayakers, Jay and Scott whose hollering could be heard for miles as they showed off in every ripple and hole.
Downriver SUPing has always been both a great thrill and a huge challenge for me. On one hand, I love to paddle. I love water. On the other hand, whitewater terrifies me. I grew up paddling and swimming in lakes, the flattest of flatwater. Having that friendly substance turn white with turbulence and feeling it move with a force that never pushes in the same direction makes my legs turn to jello. Most of the time the water is pushing me straight down the river. Good. But other times it is pushing me into a rock or a bridge pylon, or just swirling me so I am facing upriver – not all that helpful for seeing where I want to go.
Unlike skiing if I want to turn to get around a large rock, I cannot just lean and change direction. If the river wants me to go near that rock, I am going to go near the rock. From my experience if I don’t grit my teeth and maybe curse a bit while paddling frantically I will likely hit it.
But that’s the fun of it. The river wants to pull me onto a path and I have to stretch that path like a taught string to move slightly in the direction I want to go. And maybe cuss a bit too.