We got an alpine start after just a few hours of sleep and once again hit the road, fueled by gas station coffee and a burning desire to reach the famed Lunch Counter wave outside of Jackson. On the way up we stopped to check out King’s wave on the snake. This wave is a prime example of how sediment transport can have such a huge effect on hydraulic features; the wave itself is formed by a gravel bar which is constantly shifting. Although our flows were within the guidebook recommended range, the riverbed had changed enough so that we now barely saw a riffle.
We made our way to Jackson to connect with the guys at Rendezvous River Sports. By the time the thermometer bumped over 40 we were closing in on the Lunch Counter trailhead.
This wave completely blew my expectations out of the water. Been had been there previously. When he suggested stopping on our way to Boise I was fully behind checking out a new wave, but didn’t quite share his enthusiasm.
Now I understand where he was coming from- footage of this spot doesn’t nearly do it justice. The wave is a 6’ right-handed bowl with a long, steep shoulder and nice foamy pile that makes any wave move possible to stick in a kayak.
I was especially stoked to get the carbon fiber boat that I had built out on a big wave- this was the style of paddling I had designed it for. Its sharp rails and stiff hull meant windowshades and cracks while playboating in the low-volume features of Colorado’s Front Range, but here they translated to hands-free control and big air.
Part of what makes this feature so cool is the fact that it is so great for both kayakers and river surfers. Thanks to this wave, a huge river surfing community has developed organically in Jackson. While surfers greatly outnumbered kayakers on the day we were out there, none of the boater/surfer animosity I have experienced in the ocean or on other river waves was present. I think part of this is due to the fact that a number of the cars in the lot had both boards inside and kayaks on the roof.
The wave brought out kayakers, surfers, and a large crowd of spectators. Ben carves while the peanut gallery watches (see photo)
This video gives you an idea of what our morning was like, trading rides with an awesome local crew. A few hours after our scheduled departure time, and seven or eight “last rides,” we staggered back up the hill and collapsed into the car. We were back on the road to Boise to check in at our Boise River Park project, yearning for one more ride and gas station coffee.
Right around the golden hour, we pulled up to the Boise River Park. Here too it was awesome to see the river surfers and kayakers both enjoying the feature, and there was still a solid crew out despite the impending darkness. We spent some time chatting with the after-work crowd, and were pleased to hear so much positive feedback about the park’s performance.