Correspondent Amy Fiscus also contributed to this report.
In a much-anticipated contrast to their regimented school schedules, 16 students from Weber State University battled white water rapids last weekend on the Snake River near Jackson Hole, Wyo., on Friday.
“It was exciting,” said Shelby Batchelor, a WSU freshman. “The
first time we went down, it wasn’t that bad. It was pretty easy. Then, the second time, it got a lot scarier.”
Batchelor fell out of the raft on the first rapid and pulled WSU sophomore Amanda Nielson out with her.
“It was my fault, but I think she was actually the one that ended up grabbing me (out of the water),” Batchelor said. “So I’m kind of glad she was in there with me, because I don’t know what I would have done.”
Nielson — who has been down the Snake River three times — was ready.
“We were about to hit the rocks, so I grabbed her and pulled her away from the rocks because she was just in shock . . . It was cold,” Nielson said.
The group camped near the river Friday night. They obtained approval to float the Alpine Canyon section of the river twice on Saturday.
“This is a great avenue for (students) to meet new people to hang out with on campus,” said James Provence, the lead coordinator for the trip.
With three rafts and one inflatable kayak from the Outdoor Program, they navigated rapids, including Lunch Counter and Big Kahuna, two of the best-known rapids on the river.
“It’s the river; it doesn’t get any better,” said Ben Bauter, a boat captain for the trip.
He emphasized that it was a great opportunity for the students because the Outdoor Program is the only organization in the WSU area that can guide and outfit people for this type of excursion.
“We try to provide students with the best service and equipment we can, at the lowest possible rate,” Provence said.
The two things Provence said he wanted for trip participants were for them to be safe and have fun. The only prerequisite for participation in this trip was “the desire to have fun and the ability to swim.” He also expressed his desire for students to learn new skill sets, try new things and experience the world around them in order to broaden their horizons.
“It’s a great way to challenge yourself and challenge your fears,” Provence continued. “The more you get involved on campus, the better your experience will be. This is a great way to get involved, meet different people and try new things.”
Tim Nguyen, assistant coordinator for the Outdoor Program, said he hoped the trip would provide the chance for the individuals who participated to learn about themselves, others and the river.
“A focus for us this year has been student trips,” Nguyen said. “That’s not to say that we aren’t open to the community, but this is what it is all about for us.”
Nguyen also said that a trip like this is a great opportunity for students because “a lot of this is hands-on, and that is what’s so great about it.” The students were involved in everything from cooking and setting up camp to rigging and running the rafts.
Students also participated in planning certain aspects of the trip. During a pre-trip meeting last Tuesday, Sept. 6, they decided to pitch in a little extra cash in order to enjoy group meals. The group ate from a hearty menu of pancakes, eggs, yogurt parfaits, deli sandwiches and chicken fajitas to refuel after rigorous paddling on the river.
Provence said he believes that the principles from experiences like these can be applied to other aspects of life.
“In climbing a mountain or rafting a river, something that you may have thought nearly impossible in the past, with little steps, may become possible,” he said. “It may take a lot of work, but you can ultimately achieve a goal.”
For information about future trips and activities, students can contact the WSU Outdoor Program at (801)-626-6373 or firstname.lastname@example.org.