River snorkeling has taken control of my life.
There, I said it.
I used to be a regular guy. A little kayaking, some rock climbing, hiking with the family on a sunny day…the usual mountain town stuff.
All of that changed when my friend Matt, a fisheries biologist with the Yakima Indian tribe, told me about his job conducting fish surveys in the rivers of Washington. He explained that he snorkels and counts fish species. This entails swimming upstream against the current, hiding behind boulders, blasting across rapids and then drifting down stream through the deep green pools below. I was interested to say the least.
A crew of crazy locals had followed him into the green waters of the Wenatchee River and they were having a blast swimming the rapids and pools in the late summer after the high waters had passed. Some wore full wetsuits, some wore swim trunks. Swimming the deep pools and modest rapids revealed schools of salmon on their way to spawn upstream. I was blown away! The movement was similar to whitewater kayaking. Ferry angles, eddies and reading the water applied much the same way as it would in a boat. What was different was experiencing the full depth of the water column. In a boat you only use the top foot or two of the river and thus only experience a portion of the river. Strap on a snorkel and mask and you play all from the top to the bottom. This is a whole new way to experience your local river.
Forget class V whitewater. Try swimming class I and you might find that even the most modest riffles, pools and rapids will provide plenty of adventure and excitement!
My personal favorite type of water is deep, fast moving water. When you swim through this type of water…it’s like flying.