Thursday, September 16, 2010

Let's Get Ready to Ramble!

 “On the road again, Goin’ places that I’ve never been. Seein’ things that I may never see again. And I can’t wait to get on the road again.” These famed lyrics define the 8 days I spent on the Mountain Madness American Rambler tour in August. The tour, which started in Salt Lake City, took us to the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier National Park in just over a week’s time.

So naturally, each day was action packed and full of fun.  I knew I was in for a wild ride when our first day involved a ramblin’ 14 mile bike ride through the majestic Grand Teton Mountains. Who knew a ride through the “Big Breasts” (French translation) could be so incredible, haha.  Apparently, the French trappers who named these glorious beauties had a thing for the female anatomy. Alas, they were nothing short of impressive! Our ride led us to Jenny Lake, the most crystal clear freshwater lake I’ve ever seen, and that’s no exaggeration! I honestly wanted to just set up camp right on it’s beaches and stay there the full eight days, but luckily our guide knew what was in store and convinced me to get back “on the road again.”

Jenny Lake

Lakes seemed to be a theme of this portion of the trip. The day following our bike ride we braved a 9-mile hike through the Lupine Valley to Surprise and Amphitheater lakes. Both of which captivated my greatest imagination and made the 3,000 ft elevation hike soooo worth it! Surprise Lake was my favorite of the two and the site we chose for a relaxing lunch in the glorious sunshine. In fact, some of my favorite photos of the trip came from this hike!
Surprise Lake

Unknown Lake

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I don’t have time to type that many anyhow, so I’ll leave you with this final picture and the hope that you too “Just can’t wait to get on the road again!”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

WoMan vs. Rapid

On my recent American Rambler trip to the mountains I was introduced to a totally crazy new sport called Riverboarding. If you haven’t heard, it’s basically the thrill seeking, adventure enthusiast’s new drug of choice. Picture this…an ice-cold river, class 3+ rapids, you and a thin foam board. Basically man vs. rapid (surprised Bear Grylls hasn’t featured this yet).  Riverboarders leave plush rafts at home for this date with danger. I know what you’re probably thinking, “What the heck? Why would anyone want to go HEAD FIRST into white water rapids? That’s just crazy!” And you would be right…it is crazy.

I’ll admit, I was a bit squeamish about the whole ordeal, but had to don my poker face. Letting the guys know, would just give them more ammo to torture me with (and I’d had enough). Plus, there is a part of me that loves danger and being a tad bit freaked out – that same part drives me to watch movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence of the Lambs, ahhh! Oh, and did I mention that I’d get to see the guys with their shirts off?

As you can see, this sport requires quite the getup: full-body wetsuit, booties, helmet, life jacket and flippers. Clearly the inventor was male – not concerned with fashion or flattering attire. The guys definitely used this opportunity to use our Aussie mate’s favorite phrase “sweet as” often (I’m sure you can understand why).

Today we were riverboarding with the Montana River Guides down the Clark Fork River near Missoula, MT. Around 1pm, I signed my life away and started praying for the best! It was a great day to be out, sunny, blue skies, 75 degrees and plenty of rapids.  The chill of the water made the hair on the back of my neck raise as I entered the emerald water. Squealing like a little girl at the build-a-bear shop, I pushed off into the fast-paced waters following our trusty guide. My timidity quickly vanished like the passing clouds after we hit our first set of rapids. It was a rush, literally. The words thrilling, invigorating and intoxicating come to mind. The trip consisted of slow steady periods of floating interspersed with fast, furious flows ready to overturn and engulf us.

To our surprise we even had the opportunity to Riversurf. I found out quickly that it doesn’t mean you get to stand on your board (much to my dismay). Rather, you either go backwards into the rapids (not scary at all, haha) or you jump head first into the rapids and once you reach the big boy you kick like crazy and catch the top of the wave and ride it like a roller coaster. Catching a wave in the midst of rapids is such a disorienting experience. Finding myself in the dead center of the rapids, feeling like time was standing still, legs flailing (not fully necessary) it hit me that I was actually surfing!!! At that moment a thick coat of pride enveloped me just before the waves did!

Before I knew it we were swimming to the shore and the dance with danger was done.  They say time flies when you’re having fun…so this must have been a BLAST! All the cold and fear had dissipated and I was ready for round two! Let’s just say, I met my match! 

Here’s a video from the Montana River Guides of the Alberton Gorge where we riverboarded!