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PostPosted: April 14th, 2005, 9:11 pm 
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Hey folks!

This forum is a great resource and hoped it may help me plan such an outing. I was hoping you may be able to offer guidance on a few questions.

I'm planning a trip to SW Alberta late this July without my boats and hope to line up a few days of paddling while there.

Now being proficient class II paddlers (on a I to VI scale) is not saying much, so I'm stating the least common proficiency level of our three paddlers (my 14 yr old son and bro in law) and that we want moving water or a portage/lining option around rare class IV water. Sure, we're wanting great scenery and as wild a setting as a couple of single days out or three nights out can provide. We like small intimate steams here in the SE US where trees shade/shelter much of the route.

We'll fly into Calgary and rent a tiny car (which kind I've been able to strap 2 open boats onto for long Alaska hauls). We want to limit time in the car this time and probably won't get further than 200 road miles from Banff. We want to mate backpacking and paddling into 3 to 4 miniventures.

I noted a previous post relative to the Bow (and the K country packing!). Maps suggest the Bow is bracketed by roads along much of its course.

So, to the main questions:

Which sections of which streams would you recommend?

Where do I find affordable and accessible boat/equipment rentals?

Is hitching back to the put-in a realistic option? (Our streams are so sinuous here that we often bike shuttle day trips, but I won't have bikes.)

Is there a guide that answers these questions more effectively?

Your comments would be greatly appreciated.

Come on down, the water's fine!

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PostPosted: April 14th, 2005, 11:42 pm 
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Joined: March 22nd, 2005, 1:19 am
Posts: 55
Location: Calgary, Alberta
In response to your questions about where you can find rentals, There are a few places to find them and lucky enough, they're all withing 5 minutes of each other. These businesses are also great contacts for any river info and other less paddled rivers that you may be interested in.

Undercurrents
http://www.undercurrentsonline.com/

Auquabatics
http://www.aquabatics.com

Rocky Mountain paddling Center
http://www.rockymountainpaddling.com/

All these place offer great service and quality employees that can answer all your questions.

Ecocanoe


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PostPosted: April 15th, 2005, 10:26 pm 
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Joined: July 28th, 2004, 11:59 pm
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Location: Calgary
For Rentals also consider Mountain Equipment Co-op

For a 1/2 day trip consider the kananaskis river.

Check out http://68.147.184.151/paddling/partII/k ... Sebee.html - a grade 1+ run.

you can go a bit further upstream to the "widow maker" and go in there. as described. at : http://68.147.184.151/paddling/Individu ... askis.html . Be warned since I wrote that trip report they delibertatly added 'features' to the river. I've not been down it since.

the bow from Castle junction (1/2 way between banff and jasper) to canmore may be nice. I was going to run part of that tomorrow, but plans just fell through.

check out http://68.147.184.151/paddling/BWCC_riv ... _list.html This is a list of trips I stole and modificed from Bow Waters Canoe club... I've not been down any of the class II entries. you'll have to research on your own.

I'm wondering about the elbow river around Bragg Creek... it is shallow, but looks fun. there is a set of falls or two... Maybe I'll check it out before June and let you know.

Please let us know how it went.


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PostPosted: April 18th, 2005, 6:42 pm 
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Three options come to mind.
1. Bow River - Lake Louise to Banff
(2 days) Class I-II
2. Kananaskis River - Barrier Lake Info Center to Bow River
(1/2 day) Class I-III
3. Elbow River - Allen Bill Pond to Bragg Creek.
(1/2 day) Class I-II+

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PostPosted: May 3rd, 2005, 9:47 pm 
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Thanks for the leads and links! These rivers look right on in terms of challenge for our group.

How well is the Bow in Banff NP insulated from road and railroad intrusions? and would camping along it's banks be permissible?

So, I've read hitch-hiking is illegal in Canada. Does the park by chance run a shuttle along this section?

I'll certainly post a report should we pull it off.

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PostPosted: May 4th, 2005, 9:25 am 
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Location: Ft. McMurray
sbreyfog wrote:
How well is the Bow in Banff NP insulated from road and railroad intrusions?

Unfortunately there are quite a few spots that you will parallel the road and tracks.
Niether the Kananaskis, Elbow, or Bow are completely isolated. If this is a major issue with you then we will have to work on some rivers out of the way for you but consider that they will be trickier and also harder to get to and arrange shuttles.
I'm used to no people and was not put off by the road or rail on any of these 3 rivers I mentioned.

sbreyfog wrote:
and would camping along it's banks be permissible?

There are already some established river access only campsites that you should aim for but in the case of bad weather or such you will be covered by the Wilderness Pass that you buy in Banff to use the backcountry sites anyway.

sbreyfog wrote:
So, I've read hitch-hiking is illegal in Canada. Does the park by chance run a shuttle along this section?

Not sure if there is a shuttle, you can inquire in Banff when you get your backcountry camping passes.

Before you go make sure you let me know your choice so we can cover off some of the rapids with you.

Also, check http://toporama.cits.rncan.gc.ca/images/b250k/08/082o.gif
for a rough overview.

Check out some pictures of the Kananaskis River here http://www.darinzandee.wildrec.net/Kananaskis%20River%20(Widow%20Maker%20to%20Bow%20River).htm

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PostPosted: May 13th, 2005, 11:13 pm 
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Howdy folks,
Thanks for the informative input. Zandee, Canada Parks should double your pay!

Pictures of the Kananaskis River look perfect. That must be the canoe course I've read about from this forum near a put-in point. The K may work but I'm considering that we might want to avoid the trouble of lining up boats for only a day trip. (I'm aware that this is what outfitters are for, but I can't seem to break the do it yourself habit because it has gotten get me to some fine places on my own schedule, as part of the adventure.)

The Bow in Banff NP is probably where we're at. I assume its bigger than the K there. We do want 2 or 3 nights out. The canoe accessible camp sites sound passable and there's certainly that level of safety with being near a road on an unfamiliar river.

I can't help but ask to broaden the net a bit, though, as you've suggested. By chance, is the Kootenay, which looks a bit more remote, a similar stream of similar difficulty rating for canoe? Are there other 3 -4 day trips on regional streams we might ought consider as well?

Am I correct to assume high water for late July/early August? This trip date might weigh in to any advice.

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PostPosted: May 15th, 2005, 7:35 am 
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Location: Ft. McMurray
http://www3.gov.ab.ca/env/water/basins/BasinForm.cfm?Basins=2
Here you can view charts and tables for the current flow and historical averages to determine what the flow might be.

I've never been on the Kooteney.

You can check out my site for other Southern Alberta Rivers but you need to paddle most of those in June.

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PostPosted: June 20th, 2005, 6:45 pm 
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OK! Ya ta Hey!

I'm getting excited about the possibilities!

I've lined-up the boats and am working on shuttles. I'm thinking taxi service for shuttles but am still checking with outfitters and National Parks about possible transport back to the put-in and our one rental car.

It's lookin' like we'll enjoy a half day on the Kananaskis, a little piddling on Upper Kananaskis Lake, several nights out on the Kootenay, and a night out on the Bow. (Zandee, thanks for the recent reminder about the Bow!)

I'm trying to get access to river trip descriptions (put-in, take-out, recommended flow levels, major hazards, etc.). I'll check the Parks Canada site for the Bow. Any leads on the Kootenay? One resort might be purchase a guide book from the canoe provider in Calgary (Undercurrents). (That's my plan for quality hiking maps as well.) Will they have the products I describe?

Would you recommend wet suits?

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PostPosted: June 20th, 2005, 7:25 pm 
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Location: Ft. McMurray
sbreyfog wrote:
Any leads on the Kootenay? One resort might be purchase a guide book from the canoe provider in Calgary (Undercurrents). (That's my plan for quality hiking maps as well.) Will they have the products I describe?

Would you recommend wet suits?


I flew over the Kootenay and took some pictures for you. It looks wide and completely without rapids from near Columbia Lake to east of Cranbrook where it flows into Koocanusa Lake. As the crow flies it is 80km so on the river I'd guess it would be up to 100km. There are many many access points as highway 93 runs north along it. It isn't very remote as there is fields and roads all along it. The camping would be ok if it's not all private land as it is dry with widely spaced pine.

Undercurrents will have what you require if they don't they will give you direction to Aquabatics and if they don't have what you need then MEC downtown will have all the maps and gear you require.

As far as what the Kootenay is like when it leaves the wide valley and heads into the mountains I can't tell you as we never flew that far north.

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PostPosted: July 10th, 2005, 2:40 pm 
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Thanks for the input Zandee!

I'm planning a few nights out on the Kootenay from Kootenay NP down to Canal Flats.

Earlier, I plan to loosen-up on the Kananaskis from Canoe medows to Sebee. And as I round out my vacation, I hope to fit in two days and a Friday night over on the Bow.

Should I expect to have to reserve a canoe accessible campsite with Banff NP in advance? Which stretch of the Bow would you suggest? Any advice on shuttle service or should I inquire at the NP desk or rely on some taxi service?

You advice valued

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PostPosted: July 11th, 2005, 12:24 am 
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Joined: July 28th, 2004, 11:59 pm
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Location: Calgary
I've just completed a canoe course run out of the town of Canmore. It was a very nice little course.

over the course of 4 days we spent 2.5 on the Bow River. Basically running from Lake Louise, almost to the Castle Junction.

This was in Mid June, and the water was pretty high, pushing recent records. (but nothing like what hit the Elbow river and the Bow Further downstream at the same time).

It was high enough that the course was having trouble finding the 'normal' places to play/teach as they were washed out. Practicing "dodging" rocks was not effective as most were submerged. I guess my point is that what follows may not be accurate when you go.

The furthest upstream put in we used, was on day 4. So it was after 3 days of getting practice, and learning in. It was in my opinion a strong class, some very solid intermediate paddlers, and we had 4 or 5 'rescue' canoes along including instructors. (as a frame of reference for comaring to your experince, and group)

This put in is Just North of Lake Louise (the town site). It is Just after the hwy splits, take the left Hwy, it is a Km or so down the road. A short walk to the river, with a nice sheltered Bay on it.

After this in the town site of Lake Louise, there is a set of rapids, I'd say class 2. Don't use the town as a refernce, though you will not know it is close, unless there are folks out walking along the river. There is a bridge or two prior to the rapids. Tthere is a camp site here, and I believe paths along the river, so portage should be easy if required.

A couple of KM after the town site, there is a real set of rapids. I'm not sure how far it is. Class III for sure the day we went down it. There is a convienent train track running along river left. I assume portage would not be to bad, but a bit of a climb up to the tracks. This particualr rapids runs a couple hundred meters long, and ends in a bit of a chute/wave train.

We took out on Day 4, were we put in at Day 2. Day 2 put in is Just prior (as in almost right at) the place where there is a Grizzly bear/ aninmal warning sign on the Hwy up from Banff. There is a parking lot there, and a small branch of the river is just close buy. (Take a GPS point here if you want to use this take out).

(Day 3 was on a diffrent river)

Day 2:
I belive we passed a campsite (signage on the river) on this stretch. There were some good eddies and the like we practiced in. but nothing that I'd really call a rapid. (There is a chance the campsite was from Day1)



Day one we used a put in that would not be accessabel to many people, our instructors had a key to the fence along the hwy.... ON Day one we encontered Red Earth Creek Rapids. (Class 1+, probably a lot more technical in lower water). I believe this creek is marked on the road (okay I assume), if you see it, it may be worth stoping walking down and getting a GPS point.
We pulled out as some obscure take out that I've no Idea what the name is.


I do not know how you would spot the take outs from the river. Our instructors knew where they were.


In fact I'm sure there is a gap in the river run from Lake Louise to Castle Mtn. We did not go all the way to Castle Junction, that is where the road way is. I'm not sure why, there may be a real set of rapids, or the take out may not be easy?

I'm suspect there is a gap in the river between our take out on Day 2 and our put in on Day 1. Again I'm not sure what is in that gap. So please be alert.

I wish I had a GPS. on the trip...I should go buy another one, this time I'm getting one that floats.

In short the sections we did, at the time we did them were doable by someone with Class II experince. I think there are campsites to be found that would make this in to a good 2 day trip... or longer if you try hiking, and the like.

Our instructors noted that the big difference between Western Rivers and Eastern rivers include:
1) Temperature: These rivers never get warm... (I can verify their comment from personal experince... May-Aug It's breath snatching cold .). Dress approprately.
2) the hazard tends to be sweepers/strainers. (not so much foot entrapment as back east).

have fun,

Myrl.


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PostPosted: July 20th, 2005, 10:41 pm 
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Myrl,
Good tips. Thanks.
I'll be sure to check-in with the NP Rangers.
Sounds like you had great instruction and a great time!
What was the name of the other river you paddled?

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PostPosted: July 23rd, 2005, 10:44 pm 
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Location: Calgary
It was a great course, I recomend it to any novice river paddler. Even intermediate paddlers would likely get something from it.
They only run it once a year, and the instructors are all volunteers.

The other river was the Vermillion it is Just West of Banff National Park.

We ran a section that included "Hectors gorge" - Class II+/III. I'd steer clear of this river unless you get further information on it. We only did a long 1/2 day on it. I do not know it very well, having only run this one section.

If you want somthing a lot tamer, try the river down by invemerre (sp?), I think it is the Columbia river. I've heard it is a nice easy paddle. The weather tends to be a bit warmer that side of the divide.


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 Post subject: Trip Report
PostPosted: August 27th, 2005, 2:20 pm 
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Hey Folks,

Thanks for all the info, encouragement, and advice. We did have a successful trip.

We were a little slow on the learning curve for tying down canoes on a rental car. Those Calgarian winds were brutal on roof pad mounted canoes getting to and from the mountains. I'll consider rental agency insurance more seriously next time.

We didn't fit in time for the Kananaskis...we had the red-eye flight bleariness on the planned paddle date and noticed numerous rafts near the take-out.

One solo and one tandem: 16' open boats:

We did put in on the Kootenay River July 29th for 3 nights out. What a pleasant experience! Weather was phenomenally sunny, warm, and there was just enough anticipatory challenge for these average ability open boaters. We stowed wetsuits and watched the private rafters sweat. This beautiful river had strong push and was moving rapidly downstream. We could have easily completed the run in 2 nights and 3 full days of paddling. We had no satisfactory map for this run, basically just Gem Trek's "Banff and Jasper" road map. Settler's Road became more obvious the further down the river we paddled but never rarely intruded on our experience save rare dust clouds from passing vehicles and the occasional view of the road itself. The canoe rental employees were able to give us basic information about the notable rapids and campsites. It seemed like there were 4 named rapids at this low water level that were of note. We scouted Bridge were we preceded a commercial raft group on a clean dry line. We took-on minor water at Boulder or was it Ledge without scouting. There was a campground just above another "S" curve rapid that doused one of us enough to pull over and pump. We sneaked most of the big standing waves, generally sticking to the inside curves in our open boats. Ideal campsites appeared to be at major tributary confluences. We avoided adding to those parties easily as several other satisfactory sites presented themselves to us. Caught a meter-long Bull Trout at Pallaser River! There were at least 2 other overnight parties (3 canoes and 3 rafts) as well as a commercial one-day 3-raft trip on the river that weekend. The one-way shuttle of a driver to the put-in cost us $100 loons with some road tour oriented group out of Canal Flats back to Kootenay NP. If we had the time we may have hung out at the take-out for other paddlers and attempted a cooperative shuttle effort to save cost. This is a great river for overnight paddling.

We did put-in on the Bow at Lake Louise on August 5th. Because time was more limited, we set shuttle down in Banff prior to put-in. This Banff taxi cost us $95 loons. The weather was hot and sunny during the day. No wet suits necessary. This was another picturesque and intriguing river. The two rapids of note were tame at this low water level. The park service had posted portage locations ahead of them. The one rapid just down from Lake Louise, enhanced obviously by RR fill material was mostly standing waves that were simply sneaked. The rapid at Redearth Creek similar. We had the water to ourselves. We were, however, disappointed by the high volume of road noise and that headlights were visible from the canoe-only accessible campsite at Johnston Creek that we'd reserved for the one night out. This rarely used campsite was closely proximate to the Johnston Canyon Resort and was very near a hangout for concessionaire employees. We had visitors and struck-up interesting conversations. The RR traffic was fine/acceptable. Even Bow Valley Parkway and its traffic rarely came into sight and were never heard. Canada 1, however, was a serious intrusion on the entire paddling experience. The highway was visible more than 10% of the time along the river and I do not remember a time when we could not hear the traffic because I must have been asleep. I did not trust the overnight parking situation 6K N of Banff so we paddled the flat water into Banff for take-out. That section downstream of Redearth when the channel braids is fascinating. (Curiously, there was an abandoned yellow K2/no skirt on the east bank of the right-most braid across from Canada 1 with 3 take-down paddles, one broken, stowed about near the end of this braided section.) I'd recommend the Lake Louis to Castle Junction section of this scenic river for day paddling.

Thank each of you respondents for contributing to the success of our adventure.

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Sam



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