River surfing / by daniel hamlin

After the Pacific Northwest portion of the tour finished, I began my journey across the US for the East Coast leg. On my way I stopped in Idaho to visit my grandma and see some family I haven’t seen in many years. One of the things I love and respect most about all my relatives and family in Idaho is how loving and warm they are. They just have a way of making you feel welcomed. It is a disposition I hope to emulate and something I admire greatly. They are what I call “salt of the earth” type of people. It was extremely refreshing and encouraging to see them all.

After Idaho, I decided to make a couple stops on my way east. My first stop was near Jackson, Wyoming, to surf a rapid on the Snake River that creates a standing wave. I had heard about this river wave years ago and figured this would be a perfect opportunity to give it a go. After getting some information and directions from a couple of different locals around town, I made my way to what is called the Lunch Counter Rapid about 30 minutes south of Jackson. When I actually got down to the river I realized I hadn’t anticipated how intimidating it would be. The wave itself is pretty small, only about waist to chest high, but the river was flowing at nearly its maximum capacity that would still allow for surfing to be done on the wave. Once it’s flow reaches a certain point, it becomes too much water for the wave to handle. I definitely didn’t prepare for having to negotiate such severe rapids and eddies during my river surfing experience.

As soon as I got down to the riverbank I introduced myself to a local surfer who had just finished surfing. His name was Austin and he kindly began to give me the rundown on what to do and not to do in regards to approaching the river wave. In fact he even offered to paddle back out and walk me through it if I wanted him to. I ended up talking quite a while with Austin and thoroughly enjoyed his company. In most surf cultures there is so much competition for waves that locals generally aren’t too willing to share information with outsiders, so to have Austin show me such genuine hospitality in regards to his wave made an impression. As clichéd and cheesy as it sounds, it reminded me how much a simple act of kindness can mean to someone.