These two weeks find us with Pia Valar at the Valar Horse Facility, one of our favorite stops. We have met a lot of people and made new friends this visit. Scout and I visited the Hoback and Snake rivers plus Slide lake where Scout got to swim until he couldn’t swim anymore. As usual Pia is a perfect host and I encourage anyone thinking of bringing their horses to this area to stay here. Pia has the best and latest information on trails to ride and plenty of ready facilities to see to it you have a good time. The views and scenery are exceptional and you are an easy walk to the Snake and Hoback rivers.
The Grand Tetons are a special place. Peg and I love coming here to visit. Driving in from the northeast the mountains rise as if someone painted them onto the landscape towering above the valley. The vista is beautiful. Jackson is still a crowd driven crazy place to drive thru or in. Masks are required and compliance is good. Making our way south toward Hoback Junction the ongoing construction on US 189 added to the travel time. The first time we came here, five years ago, Wyoming was finishing up the new bridge over the Snake at Hoback that included a round about at the junction of 189, 89, 191 and 26. Two years ago the reconstruction making upgrading the hiway from two lanes to 4 lanes with a middle turn lane was in full swing south out of Jackson. Today the construction continues on the stretch that will end at the north end of Hoback tying into the roundabout completed four years ago. This is massive mountain and river construction and fascinating to watch. Hopefully the next visit will find it all done.
For the first time, I floated down the Snake. First with Kathy, Pia’s summer help, and a second trip with her and Mike, a visitor from Texas. Floating the Snake on an inner tube is a lot crazy. There is really little you have control over and you just go with the flow. What a super experience and great time. Videos of some of the second trip are posted below. Please note how smokey the air is. This is smoke from the California fires making the air quality fairly bad.
Floating down the Snake is a great experience. Pia took Kathy and I across the highway to where we rented inner tube style floats and dropped us off at the junction of the Hoback and Snake rivers. Our float took us down to the Fall Creek Road take out, about an hour and a half on the river. The Snake is running about three feet down from the normal water marks and is fast (the river gauges report 1453 cubic feet per second of water flow).
Floating on a tube is quite a different experience from being in a raft. Even though Pia supplied me a paddle, I found it very difficult to do much other than go with the current. On this stretch of the river the bottom and banks consist of round river rocks of all sizes. These rocks are slick and loose which presents some degree of difficulty getting into and out of a tube in a very fast current, although being slick is an advantage when scooting over the big ones in the middle of the river. On this trip I stayed out of trouble and took in the sites and wonderful weather.
A week later Mike joined us and we started out up the river a ways launching from the Snake River Boat Ramp. We floated to the Johnny Counts Bridge boat ramp about three hours on the river. We got to see the highway construction from the river point of view. Very impressive. Floating toward Hoback there is a very distinct geological feature in the river that makes you feel like the walls are closing in on you. The river picks up pace and is compressed with a lot of exposed rocks in the water. This is where I found some big rocks off to the west side of the river. I bounced off of several in a worrisome fashion, trying to beat them into submission with my paddle. There were a lot of young people around who found me funny even laughable. It was my pleasure to have provided them with a highlight to their trip.
This would not be the end of the rocks I found. About half way down our trip there was a ridge of rock that made a small dam. Floating at inner tube level it is hard to see features like this making them hard to avoid. I would have never imagined that one could see the river seem to end along a line of smooth water then crash only to take up some distance down. Of course the smooth water is just playing with your mind. That line is where the river drops over an outcropping of rocks. Floating from calm beauty to rapid water filled with rocks is a trip to be experienced. I learned to follow the rafts because the pilots sit high and get a totally different perspective of the river. The wind was blowing fairly hard toward the northeast against the current but towards the shore and the rocky outcropping that hung me up. There is not a lot to said for floating along at 10 mph (my guess) and suddenly stopping on a rock. The river doesn’t stop, it just keeps beating up on the tube trying to sink it. The power of flowing water is immense. I scooted along about ten feet of this slick rock wall until the river took me over and safely on.
It was around here that a few rafts of young folks caught up to us. They were kind enough to provide Mike and me with a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon each. I took several Iphone videos to give you idea of what the experience is like. There are no videos of rapids because I used the paddle a lot in the fast water meaning the iphone had to be stowed. Another interesting observation not on video is with the clear water and low river from time to time you see the bottom rocks that look like they are flying up river. An optical delusion that is something to see.
On the Winnebago front. The replacement awning is at Dakota RV. Shipped in a wooden crate this time. The entrance door strut ripped off from the plastic part of the door. This was expected as Winnebago has a service campaign in place to upgrade the door connection. Since ours is ripped off the whole door has to be replaced and with full body paint the replacement door has to be painted. Dakota RV got on it right away and the new door is at their place already. The replacement bathroom door though is a different story not arriving for another 4 weeks. I am trying to get this all set up to be done at one time the week of Sept. 14th. Stay tuned. Enjoy the images and videos below.
Thursday we are headed to Garrison, Montana and then to Colbert, Washington before turning east back to Rapid City. Stay Covid safe.