The one thing you don’t want to hear when you’re floating down the river in a sturdy inner tube with your 7-year-old daughter is a pop, followed by a pppppddddffffff-ish sound. It occurred to me, as my daughter panicked and I struggled, mid-rapid, to the riverbank with her and a quickly deflating tube in my arms, that there were a few things I could have done better to prepare for a fun float along the East Fork Lewis River from Lewisville Park to Daybreak Park, both north of Battle Ground.
My husband and older daughter enjoyed their float, while my younger daughter and I trudged back to the car (a short trudge, since the tube thankfully deflated just a few minutes after we’d entered the water) and drove back to Daybreak to meet them upon their arrival.
To avoid mishaps, take these tips from someone who has learned the hard way.
The parks are just a short 10 minute drive from each other, or 4 miles by road or river, so it’s easy to take two family cars to Daybreak, park one there, and drive the other car with all people, tubes, and lifevests in it to Lewisville Park to launch. Be sure to leave plenty of towels in the Daybreak car, and assume you’ll get thoroughly wet along the 1.5-2-hour float.
When you’re ready to launch in the river at Lewisville Park, make sure all inner tubes are fully inflated, with no slow leaks, and that all children are wearing life vests. In case of “breakdowns,” tow a spare inflated tube behind you with a rope. Watershoes are the best footwear, as the rocky river bottom can be harsh on feet. I learned that flip flops are likely to end up in a watery grave with all the slippery shifting of the water and rapids.
With lessons learned, I’m almost feeling ready for a river float do over.