Stick with floating if you go tubing

Here comes the summer heat. If you’re planning to beat that heat by tubing down one of the state’s many rivers, you might want to stick to floating. Years ago, I found out the hard way why inner tubes aren’t used for much else.

If you’re really adventurous, you might add some spice to a tubing trip. My friends Blair and Val introduced me to the fine art of river tubing when I was in high school, and looking back, it’s a wonder I lived long enough to graduate.

The Wind River winds behind my parents’ house in Riverton, and where it curves under a cliff, Blair, Val and I found a new way to cool off on hot summer days. We bought some old, patched-up inner tubes from a local tire shop, added some air and headed for the river. It wasn’t long until Val had a bright idea.

He suggested we stack all the tubes on top of each other, then set this three-decker donut adrift over the deepest pool under the cliff bank. One of us would climb up the cliff a ways, then jump off onto the tubes. The idea was that the tubes would spring us up like a diving board, and we’d bounce out into the water. It sounded like a good idea at the time.

The idea was to land on the tubes like I was doing a belly-flop. Unfortunately, I pivoted too far forward, and when I hit the tubes, it was with my face, not with the entire front of my body. Due to the angle of my descent, instead of bouncing me out over the water, they shot me back toward the cliff. Since I hit face-first, my face was the first part to leave the tubes on the rebound, and my legs were the last. As I sailed back toward the mud-and-rock cliff, I rotated around my waist until my feet were up and my face was down. That’s when I hit the cliff. Showing they weren’t completely insane, Val and Blair decided they’d rather float down the river than try to bounce off its surface on an inner-tube springboard.

I guess the moral of this story is have some fun on the water, but if you’re going to do anything that might be dangerous, let your buddy test it first.