On the River: Two to a tube
August 19, 2005
All the ingredients were in place for a fine, lazy inner tube float: cool mountain stream, sunny skies, one can Miller Lite, one can PBR, sunglasses, an inner tube.We could have used another tube.Fish Creek runs from Grand Teton National Park through Wilson, Wyo., at the base of the Tetons and empties into the Snake River southwest of Jackson. Its mild, meandering way renders it ideal for an afternoon float, but if you go, I recommend implementing a rule of one person per vessel.Andrea and I had only one inner tube of average size for the two of us, which we giggled about at the put-in and lamented way before the takeout.It took about 10 minutes to figure out a configuration that would allow the two of us to squeeze onto the tube; hanging on to a side while partially submerged was not an option as Fish Creek is far too cold and shallow.After a couple of chilling dips and dunks, we deduced that the only option was for her to sit in the middle of the tube with me draped across the top diagonally. It was functional. It was imperfect. She was mostly submerged in the icy water, and to hold the balance my abdominal muscles were put through an intense workout.Luckily, we had a pair of beers to counter the effects, but one was inaccessible in Andrea’s pocket somewhere in the water below my leg, which I couldn’t move or we’d flip, and the other had partially spilled.We recovered the pocketed brew when we again capsized in some “rapids,” got back in our semistable tubing position, and enjoyed a few minutes of sublime floating. Osprey tended to their nests above, horses warily eyed us as they drank creekside, fish periodically surfaced.But then the current picked up ever so slightly, we tipped again, and the speedy, shallow water scraped our knees and elbows across the rocks underneath and pulled my swim trunks down.With that, the fun washed down the river and we never found it again. We couldn’t both get back in the tube and Andrea was turning blue from the cold. She got out and walked the last few hundred yards, and I captained the tube to the takeout, shivering all the way but otherwise comfortable. One man, one tube. That’s the rule now.