Central Montana is a funny place. We had scattered but relatively light snow all the way off/on through May 31st! Here it is mid June and it has every day or so it becomes HOT and muggy. This weekend was one of those.
All of us were sitting in our small living space, 2 fans going and still feeling sticky. My husband came up with an impromptu thought. Let’s go inner tubing down the creek. ACK – all I could think of is how cold the creek was. I’m allergic to extreme cold temperatures, I swear! But our two girls were so enthusiastic about the idea, I was out-voted.
We live in a town that is surrounded by five mountain ranges, the Snowies, the Judiths, the Moccasins, the Belts, and the Highwoods. Big Spring Creek was our destination for tubing, and you can guess where the water comes from. It is a 9.5 mile stretch from a Fish Hatchery until it empties into the Judith River. Nearly crystal clear water throughout and is part a habitat restoration area, the views are absolutely stunning and can only be experienced by floating down!
Driving along Upper Spring Creek road, aptly named because it was the beginning part of the creek, we found our landing spot and drove along until we found a good starting point. My husband and daughter mounted their tubes that we got from an auto repair shop we are closely associated to and with a quick gasp of shock as they settled into the water and I handed our 3yo to my husband. I reluctantly hopped in a tube as well. My goodness it was gasp worthy. I found out later that the creek is nearly a constant 52 degrees.
Big Spring Creek flows at 130 cubic feet per minute which seemed not too fast or too slow for me. Around bends and straightaways with a shelter of trees above most of the way. I could see fish jumping and we laughed as we tried to stay together. UNTIL .…. a sharp turn and a 20 foot stretch of rapids!! My tube soared me ahead, and over a rapid around a bend to another rapid and I was head over heels. The water was only waist deep I found out. But when I emerged I heard my oldest daughter squealing and saw my husband with our 3yo in tow absolutely drenched. My oldest lost her flip flop and my husband had jumped out of his tube to “save” me. After the shock and humiliation wore off we remounted our tubes and had a wonderful float down to our designated landing point.
Laughing at each other and going over our experience we decided it was something worth doing again. It was free to do and is wildly popular amongst the locals. It strengthens our family bond and gives us yet another outdoor memory.
As for myself, I got a couple of scrapes from rocks when I went head over heels and re-injured my long ago previously shattered tailbone. Otherwise healthy and well.