Tubing down the hazy river
Your guide to a day of nomadic drifting
By Mica James
There’s no better way to spend a sultry summer day than packing a cooler full of beer, grabbing some friends and floating down a river. Reconnect with your inner Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn; load the pickup with the necessities and head out to the nearest river for a lazy day of summer fun.
The beauty of tubing is that you must surrender completely to the rhythms of the river. You’re just along for the ride and there’s no action on your part that’s going to make the water move any faster than it already is. This is the unbridled power of Mother Nature! Just relinquish control and go with the flow. The gentle movements of the river coupled with sunshine, good weed, and the local microbrew will have you mellow in no time.
Reconnect with your inner Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn; load the pickup with the necessities and head out to the nearest river for a lazy day of summer fun.
If you’re still wound tight from the workweek or can’t seem to find the pause button for your hyper-competitiveness, then choose whitewater over flat water for an adrenalin-charged ride. If your state lacks the topography necessary for churning rivers you might have to resort to water games. Tubes can be propelled using hands and feet, so inject some bumper-car-carnival action into a game of riparian tag. Or designate teams and invent your own version of tubing water polo. Or select a panel of judges, unleash your inner diva, and indulge in a synchronized inner tubing ballet for some good clean family fun.
If all that sounds like too much splashing and frenzied energy expenditure, then just kick back and chill. Let the water work its magic and expand your senses. Notice the birdsong coming from shore or the whimsical shapes in the lazy passage of overhead clouds. Become aware of the beauty that exists in each moment. Ah! Feels good doesn’t it?
Taking care of a few key matters before embarking on your adventure will assure a most excellent time for all. Two vehicles are de rigeur – stash one at the take out point to ferry bodies, rubber and trash back upstream at the end of the day.
Choose your river wisely. Unfortunately, America’s waterways are no longer the pristine havens they once were. Tetanus and E. coli are potential water-born scourges; check the pollution levels of your chosen liquid playground.
If your dog paddle won’t propel you across the bathtub let alone a real-life river, you might want to choose another way to spend your summer weekends. If you can’t swim, stay on shore or at least consider wearing a life jacket.
While personal floatation devices may be the tubing equivalent to wearing a Speedo (geeky and confining), they’re a good idea if you’re a weak swimmer or intend to consume liberally from the cooler. Don’t rely on your baked, drunken buddies to fish you out of the drink if you fall in.
Practice Safe Tubing
Leave the glass beverage containers at home.
Wear water shoes to protect your feet, especially in rapids.
Murphy’s law of tubing states that anything that can get sucked off, will get sucked off. So, attach sunglasses, hat, car keys, stash, camera, etc. securely to your body.
The middle of a river is no place to be in an electrical storm, hightail it to shore if skies threaten.
The middle of the river is the place to be the rest of the time; low-hanging branches are wicked painful on sun burnt skin.
Protect your butt – lean back and keep your dumper up especially when navigating rapids.
Assign a designated driver, Highway Patrols often set up checkpoints around favourite tubing destinations on busy weekends.
Favourite U.S. Tubing Destinations
Boise River, Boise, ID
Saco River, North Conway, NH
Frio River, Garner State Park, TX
Chattooga River, GA
Davidson River, Pisgah National Forest, NC
Saranac River, Plattsburg, NY
Boulder Creek, Boulder, CO
Blue River, Harrison Crawford State Forest, IN
Salt River, AZ
Crow Wing River, near Staples, MN
Brandywine River, West Chester, PA
Ocoee River, TN
Deep Creek, Bryson City, NC
Yampa River, Steamboat Springs, CO
Esopus Creek, Phoenicia, NY
Sacramento River, Chico, MT
Kern River, CA