Canadian Canoe Routes

The Big Ditch
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Author:  Stencil [ April 3rd, 2013, 5:44 pm ]
Post subject:  The Big Ditch

Spring has sprung in southern portions of BC and with a forecast calling for sun and moderate temps I decided to head out. I chose the Columbia River as the spring waterfowl migration is on and the extensive wetlands were becoming ice-free. I put in at Invermere and paddled North towards Radium and points beyond. Most of BC is mountains and transportation corridors are all in the valley bottoms. The Rocky Mountain Trench which holds the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers (though they flow in opposite directions) is home to a highway and a rail line. But the valley is broad and the Columbia often braids into multiple channels allowing the paddler to choose the western option and avoid some (but not all) of the more odious manisfestations of human endeavour. The noise was always there but the scenery was the perfect antidote.
P1010005 by Stencilcanoe, on Flickr
I stopped at a wide open dry channel and set up camp. There were song sparrows calling from the willows and the goose-music was ringing out. I spooked a couple of beaver from a thicket as I explored the dry island I was on.
In the morning there was heavy frost and I waited till the sun reached the river and then headed on north through the mountains with the Purcells on my left and the Rockies to the right.
P1010006 by Stencilcanoe, on Flickr
P1010018 by Stencilcanoe, on FlickrImage
P1010022 by Stencilcanoe, on Flickr
There was rarely a time when there wasn't some sort of waterfowl in the air or taking flight from the water. Common Mergansers, Northern Shoveler, American Widgeon, Hooded Mergansers, Buffleheads and many, many Canadas. There were also flocks of swans and several Bald Eagles at nest. Northern Harriers patroled the marsh edges and crows and magpies yelled from the cottonwoods.
In an attempt to explore a more western channel I hauled the boat and gear over a small log jam and set out paddling,dragging and wading. After a kilometer or so of this the channel ran dry and I reversed myself back to the jam and the main channel. The north wind proved that it still had teeth and by the time I passed Brisco and found camp on a small patch of river bank I was well and truly shagged. Bed came very early and I slept well woken only by the need to cover the little dog with a fleece I had brought for that purpose.
It froze hard in the night and I woke to heavy frost and more goose serenade. As the sun came over the mountains to the east the Song Sparrows ascended to the tips of the leafless branches and called out. They are not called Song Sparrrows for nothing and fine start to the day it was. I loaded up and journeyed on.
I drifted up on a herd of bull elk getting very close and later I came upon a herd of cow elk.

P1010034 by Stencilcanoe, on FlickrImage

I puttered along intentionally going slow and trying to absorb as much as I could.
I had been cold in the boat again but when I made camp on a fine dry and open bank the sun came out and warmed me and I had a drink to celebrate and then I had another.
The makers of this brew advertise that "Guinness is good for you." Well, I have never seen a dead Irishman and I do feel better after drinking it. Further research continues.
P1010040 by Stencilcanoe, on Flickr
This may be the best deal on gear I have seen. Twelve bucks at the local logging supply store. Swedish-made. Yup.
P1010045 by Stencilcanoe, on Flickr
Canis lupus familiaris. Aka Man's best friend. Unfortunately there are exceptions to the rule.

So all that was left was to pack up and knock off the last twenty kilometers or so to Parson where I was to be picked up. But there was one more treat in store for me and it took the form of a cow moose wading up the river by the opposite bank. The dog and I stood very still and watched her come picking her way slowly climbing the bank to avoid some soft bottom and laying her ears back to trot through some willow. Occasionally a large tongue came out and wet her lower lip. I had the binoculars on her and she stopped and stood only sixty meters away testing the wind. She never spooked. Just continued on once nibbling a few tips from a red osier before wading up a channel between two ice pans and disappearing from sight. I flung the gear into the boat and drifted off down the river full of joy. I paddled some and drifted some. The sun shone down on the boatman and his dog and on all the snow-capped mountains all around.
P1010049 by Stencilcanoe, on Flickr

And life was good.

Author:  dunkin' [ April 3rd, 2013, 7:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Big Ditch

Looks like a great trip. Nice shots, and cute looking companion too. :)

Author:  Ralph [ April 3rd, 2013, 7:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Big Ditch

Open water?!
Great pics.

Author:  Canoeheadted [ April 5th, 2013, 11:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Big Ditch

Very nice. :thumbup:
Thanks for the report.

We also lucked out with a super hot weekend for our first trip of the year.

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