In what's getting to be a disturbing occurrence, there's been yet another accident involving paddlers on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. Fortunately, as with the two other mishaps this summer, no one was seriously injured in the latest incident.
This time rangers had to rescue a 72-year-old man after his canoe capsized just about two miles into a 14-mile voyage he and his partner were attempting from Moose Landing down to the Wilson Bridge. The fact that the two were locals well-familiar with the river demonstrates the danger the Snake can represent, even if you think you know it well.
Jackson Davis and Beverly Horyza, both of Moran, Wyoming, had launched into the river about noon Saturday. Roughly three hours later their canoe hit a log while they paddled through the "Bourbon Street" channel of the Snake. The boat capsized and both were thrown into the Snake River. While Ms. Horyza was able to reach an island in the middle of the river, Mr. Davis was able to flip the canoe over and continue paddling downstream. However, he hit another log, causing the boat to capsize again; this time, Mr. Davis floated downstream without his canoe until he could reach the southern end of the same island on which Ms. Horyza was stranded.
While Mr. Davis hiked back up river trying to locate Ms. Horyza, the two were on opposite sides of the island and were unable to reunite with one another.
According to park officials, a fishing guide conducting a concessioner-operated river trip spotted the 67-year-old Ms. Horyza about 5:30 p.m. and rescued her. Rangers later located and rescued Mr. Davis, who was stranded on an island between the Bourbon Street and main river channels. Neither Mr. Davis nor Ms. Horyza were injured in the boating accident and both were wearing life jackets.
That wasn't the end of the day's river adventures, though. While in the process of rescuing Ms. Horyza, the fishing guide saw another capsized canoe with two people in the water and clinging to the craft; he used his river “rescue throw bag,” which contains a coiled length of rope, to reach those people, and was eventually able to pull them aboard his boat.
With these accidents fresh in mind, park officials want visitors who are tempted by the river to remember that the Snake is a powerful stream with strong currents and cold water temperatures. Due to its tangle of channels and constantly shifting logjams, boaters are advised to have the proper equipment, as well as the knowledge and experience to accurately read the river’s current. For those unfamiliar with the Snake River, a pre-float consultation with rangers is strongly advised.