If your day starts out with this prospect, what could be better? Oh, yeah! We had big plans to canoe our group down the Snake River. We put in our canoes at Jackson Lake Dam. This is the reason we hauled these canoes all the way from Texas to the Tetons. My brother-in-law Clay planned this day. He said there were two options for ending our canoe trip. One was at Pacific Creek Landing and one was at Deadman’s Bar Landing. We left a car at both spots so we could have freedom to decide when we actually got to the different landings.
We had six canoes, and we had to divvy out the children and adults. I started in a canoe with my husband, Matt and our two little girls Claire and Lydia. We switched around a bit during the trip, but I’ll tell you about that later. We distributed weight evenly and climbed aboard. We had purchased these cute yellow retractable paddles for the kids to use to pretend that they were actually helping us. They loved them!
The Snake River is quite lovely, and as we paddled along we saw beauty and a fox! He was a very large fox. The first part of the river from Jackson Lake Dam is easily managed, except by our only canoe maneuvered by all boys. They were not the most efficient paddlers, but they really had fun!
We stopped at Cattleman’s Bar Landing for a riverside picnic and some fishing. It was not far down from where we started, but most of us were either read to eat or ready to fish. There was a lot of fishing going on in our group, but not a lot of catching happening. There were pools to be made also with the gravelly river bank, and the children had so much fun playing in the cold water. I ran out to the middle of the river once because I was hot. That was all the refreshment I needed!
What would you consider the day on which you had your first leech experience? I would say….definitely awesome. Of course my first leech experience was in the middle of the Northern Indian jungle. I mean, maybe you haven’t had it yet. You should. These things are fun, and fun is good. Well, after our time here on the river bank, one of my daughters who shall remain unnamed had her first leech experience. It was exciting and gross. Leeches link these two adjectives together so nicely. Don’t worry. She’s okay.
We finished our time there, and everyone loaded up their canoes again. We weaved down river, and there were a few places where the rapids were rapid. At some point, I switched canoes, and I ended up steering with my sister-in-law Beth in the front. This did not work out well with us. I am not a good steer-er. I belong in the front where I can be the grunt paddler. I can paddle people. You should see my J-stroke. So, once we worked that out, we made a great team. We even navigated the last rapid backwards. It was very graceful.
The river winded along for a very long time. We sailed on passed Pacific Creek Landing committing ourselves to the rest of the 15 mile trip. We had gone 5 miles, and we just knew we could handle the rest. It rained on us a little, and some of us wondered if we missed our port of exit. All of a sudden there was a sharp left turn in the river that Beth and I saw Will and Jaymie miss and have to painstakingly go against the current to get back to. We also saw that Clay and Mattea were on the side of the river bank, their children crying. I called out something smarmy to them, and then stopped as I saw Mattea jump out of the canoe and stumble into the river. Mattea was soaked, and I felt so bad. Turns out, Clay had unfortunately acquired a fishing hook in his hand, and we were past them by the time we knew and couldn’t get back.
Thankfully, my brother-in-law Cole, who is an equine vet, was behind everyone because he was the only real paddler in his boat. We pulled our canoes onto a sand bar down river and watched as he was able to get his canoe over to the bank beside them. The only problem was that Cole only had a dull knife with him. He used it. The kids all closed their eyes as Cole dug the knife into Clay’s hand. He had to cut into his hand to dig out the hook. Clay held on, and they got the hook out. All of us got back on river together and moved on. I was proud of our family. We got skills.
After this mishap, the river seemed a little longer, but it was still a very beautiful journey. Our arms were a little weary, but before I knew it, we were going through the last rapids (backwards…yeah! Beth! We were awesome!) and the journey was done. We climbed out, gathered our things and came to to this sign. I found it quite humorous that we came across it at the end of our trip.
Ah, well, we lived….experienced piloting or not. It was a grand adventure with only one holey hand to boast about. We unloaded kids, stuff, and loaded canoes. Then of course, we took a photo!
Not to disagree too much with the sign, I will say that the section of the river that we navigated was not difficult with our crew. If you get the chance to float the Snake River, jump at it. You won’t regret it. It gave me a view of the Grand Teton National Park that I would never have had before! Just take plenty of water and food. You’ll want a rain jacket too!
That night we went back to camp and enjoyed delicious spaghetti with chicken. Don’t judge. I thought it was a great idea for Cole and Beth to use the plenty of leftover chicken from the night before as the meat source. It was yummy. We were enjoying the food, fun, and the fire until I found out that Mattea was in her tent crying. Beth, who is a nurse practitioner, (wasn’t kidding about the skills) had just come from there. Mattea was about 11 weeks pregnant, and she was starting to bleed a bit. All I could think of was her falling into that river water. I went to see her, and we were so sad and scared. We prayed together, and then I let her rest. I went back out to the campfire and saw the question on all the other adults’ faces: What were we going to do now?
To be continued…