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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Social Distancing On A River Raft

Above, yours truly (right) rafting last summer on the Snake River. Photo by Float-o-Graphs.

Last summer, I did something that I hadn't done since the late 1980s: white water river rafting.

The occasion was when a friend and I went to Jackson, Wyoming for camping and visiting Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. I went with the Dave Hansen Whitewater company for some rafting on Wyoming's Snake River. I had a great time. During the raft trip, we saw two bald eagles.

This year is a little different with social distancing, but the rafting companies are adapting.

According to the Jackson Hole News & Guide:
In any year not as strange and off-putting from the jump as 2020, David Cernicek would see a steady stream of large groups rafting the Snake River in 20-minute intervals during the busiest days of the season. 
That’s not the case this year, and it won’t be. Still, the Bridger-Teton National Forest river manager is overseeing an industry finding ways to paddle through the COVID-19 pandemic. 
“Coming out of the gate it was, ‘How can we do this?’” he said, “because there were people who believed we couldn’t do it.”

Chief among the limitations on rafting this season is the amount of people who can occupy one craft. This summer the Bridger-Teton is not issuing its traditional group permits for parties of more than 15 people. 
Cernicek said restrictions like that have been managed well on the commercial side by whitewater outfitters. For private parties from outside Wyoming, though, there’s been pushback. 
“There’s a lot of unhappy people, mainly from out of state, that would like to be bringing their usual groups like they do every year,” he said. “It’s very understandable, and they do want to know if commercial outfitters are being restricted as well. 
“The folks that don’t really believe in COVID being a real virus, they seem to be much angrier.” 
Reports of substantially less angry river-users came from Dave Hansen Whitewater and Scenic River Trips’ Bud Chatham. After months of uncertainly about the future of the business in 2020, Chatham said his team is just happy to be back. And the customers, too, are keeping their distancing but in the same boat.
Above, a final photo at the end of the raft trip last summer. Photo by Float-o-Graphs.

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