Orlando Bingles’ Rocky Mountain High: Day 6

by Bingle on May.24, 2009, under Richard Bingle Family

Today was rafting on the Yellowstone River with the Flying Pig Rafting Company. The launch point was just up the street from our hotel, so we put on our swimming suits and jeans and drove over. Our guide for the day was John, and we were to have 3 other rafters joining us in our raft, Brian, Dennis, and Sarah. After getting wetsuits, booties, and life jackets we had our obligatory safety meeting and headed down the embankment behind their storefront and loaded into the raft. Alyssa sat in the middle of the third row between Rich and Amber and acted as our unofficial navigator (i.e. she hung on for dear life).

We soon passed our hotel and entered into Swimmers Rapids where Rich, Karen, Ashley, and Amber each braved the cold to say they had swum in the Yellowstone River. Even with the wetsuits the water was COLD, probably about 46 degrees! We didn’t stay in very long, but that wasn’t the point anyway. John helped Rich and Ashley back into the raft, and Amber helped Karen back into the raft and later Karen returned the favor.

A little farther down the river there was a rope hanging from a bridge. John convinced Brian to grab hold of the rope as we passed under the bridge, and Brian went swinging out of the raft as we continued downstream. He swung a couple of times before realizing he had no choice but to let go and drop into the frigid water as we were not coming back for him.

We stopped a few miles farther downstream to pick up a second guide complete with his own two-seat catamaran raft. Safety Dan would be there as a backup if anything unplanned happened as we went through the class III and IV rapids to come. John chose the least rough lines through the rapids on account of Alyssa and we were soon through the toughest section. As Dennis and Sarah had yet to enter the river, John tried to take advantage of one of the last sections to spin Dennis out of the raft. He initially told just Dennis and Brian to unwedge their feet from under the tube of the raft but then expanded that to everyone. Rich stupidly obeyed the order and a few seconds later found himself tumbling backwards out of the raft!

The water had been cold before, but the four of us had all made a point of not completely submerging or letting go of the boat. Rich ended up in the water for a couple of minutes before Safety Dan managed to maneuver the cat into position to pluck him from the river, exhausted from the cold and struggling against the currents. Rich transferred safely back to the raft below the next set of rapids.

Right before the pullout to end our trip we passed under a second bridge. John convinced Dennis and Ashley to attempt to hook the t-grip of their paddles on the edge of the bridge as we passed under it and try to hang on (similar to the rope from the first bridge). Unfortunately the water level, the rigidity of the paddles, and the lack of grip all conspired to basically just dump Dennis and Ashley out of the raft and into the water as they attempted the maneuver. Brian and Rich quickly pulled them back into the raft and our trip downriver was at an end.

Like the previous year’s raft trip, the hours actually on the river never match the hype of the advertisements. Our “all day” trip turned out to be about 2 hours of actual float time. And just like the previous year, there was nobody on shore taking pictures as we went by (too early in the season, apparently).

We spent the rest of the day swimming in the hotel’s indoor pool, playing cards in the room, and napping. We had enjoyed our pizza the night before at The Outlaw across the street, so we went back to sample a couple more of their creations for dinner.

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