View topic - Athabasca River from Hinton to Whitecourt spring run Advice

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PostPosted: April 26th, 2014, 3:22 pm 
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Location: Northern Alberta
I have done 3 river day trips last Augsust/September on some fairly easy rivers. So I do have a little tiny bit of experience, but still have a lot to learn. I have been thinking about taking a run from Hinton to Whitecourt, around May 20 ish. 2014, me and another guy in a 16 foot canoe. I looked at some provincial flow rate charts for the Hinton area, and usually around that time of year the flow rate is a little less than in June and July from what I could find. In researching a tour guide company, they don't seem to start that run until about June 15 in previous years. My question: Is there any particular reason why this run should not be done at this time of year, providing the flow rate is at about the average for that time of year? What are the main dangers? I realize the river would probably be pretty frosty, but I'm assuming it might not get much warmer during the summer. I suppose it could also be a little cooler camping this early also. What am I missing? Log jams? Icebergs? Anyone got any thoughts on this one? It may sound like a dumb question to some, but I gotta start somewhere.


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PostPosted: April 27th, 2014, 7:24 am 
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greenriver,
Welcome to CCR!
I've done the whole run you plan to do one time and the upper part (Hinton to the Berland River bridge) a number of times.
From Hinton to the Emerson Lakes bridge the river is generally easy with one obvious main channel. Not many rocks or sweepers. In low water you might encounter some gravel bars and a few rocks. At high water, most of the rocks will be covered.
From Emerson Lakes bridge to the Berland River bridge, it gets more interesting. There is faster current with standing waves on some bends. There are more sweepers. If you have some basic river reading skills and can maneuver a bit, you can avoid most of these. At low water, the biggest problem will be gravel bars. At higher water levels the current gets faster, the waves get bigger and more skill is required. There are sweepers and log-jams in places. There are places with some strong eddy-lines. As you get closer to the Berland there are more channels and choices will have to be made. Again, generally speaking, if you stay in the main channel and avoid the outside of the bends, you can miss most of the hazards.
Below the Berland, the river slows down and there are more islands. The current is not as pushy but there are often log-jams on the islands and sweepers on the outside of the bends.
I think your timing will be fine.
Hope this helps. If you have more questions just ask.


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PostPosted: April 27th, 2014, 11:20 pm 
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Location: Northern Alberta
Thanks Ralph. That is quite helpful.


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PostPosted: April 28th, 2014, 12:25 am 
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Location: Burns Lake, BC
The water temp will be colder for sure.
Cold water rescue would be a major concern.


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PostPosted: April 28th, 2014, 12:46 am 
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Location: Northern Alberta
Ya I was kind of thinking that Canoeheadted. It is something I have had on my mind for sure. Thanks for your input.


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PostPosted: April 28th, 2014, 9:11 am 
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I will be doing the exact same run later in this summer. I contacted Dwayne of Sagitawah RV in Whitecourt and he has accepted my request for hire for shuttle services. Their campground is on the river at the highway bridge in Whitecourt, and for a small fee he will do my shuttle and keep my vehicle safe for the time we are on the river. Get the Alberta Recreational Canoe Association map for this trip - it is all that you will need. Can be found at any local outfitter or Chapters. I have done the Jasper to Hinton run on May longweekend several times and never had issues with ice or low water levels. Hope you enjoy!!


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PostPosted: April 28th, 2014, 10:19 am 
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Location: Northern Alberta
Thanks Rob S, I will definitely look into some of this information.


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PostPosted: April 28th, 2014, 2:50 pm 
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I should have mentioned that Mark Lund's book, "Mark's Guide for Alberta Paddlers", is a great resource for this trip and many, many others. He is currently revising it and the new version is supposed to be out in mid to late summer 2014. You might find copies of the original if you look hard.

http://members.shaw.ca/marksguide/

http://members.shaw.ca/marksguide/retailers.htm

Have fun!


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PostPosted: April 28th, 2014, 2:54 pm 
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Joined: March 28th, 2008, 4:48 pm
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Location: Northern Alberta
Ya I've actually been trying to get my hands on that book actually. I'll keep on looking.


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PostPosted: April 28th, 2014, 5:18 pm 
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Joined: August 16th, 2011, 8:02 pm
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Location: Edmonton area
Greenriver, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) in Edmonton at about 124th St/103 Ave, usually has Mark Lund's book in stock. Cheers.

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Ubique



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PostPosted: April 29th, 2014, 9:06 am 
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Send me a PM with your Email address and I will forward a PDF copy of Mark Lund's reach reports for the Athabaska from Jasper to Fort McMurray.


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PostPosted: April 29th, 2014, 9:18 am 
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Thanks Guyfawks, I will definitely check that out.


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PostPosted: May 3rd, 2014, 10:57 am 
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Location: Northern Alberta
Thanks everyone for all the good information. It is greatly appreciated. There is a good possibility that it will be a go, but not a for sure thing at this time. I guess I'll see what kind of weather and water levels are going on at the time and of course myself and the other person involved. If anyone out there happens to be twittling their thumbs and itching to do this with us, just let me know. Probably wouldn't hurt to have another canoe or two out there and a little added expertise. Just throwing it out there.


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PostPosted: July 19th, 2016, 1:06 pm 
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Joined: March 28th, 2008, 4:48 pm
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Location: Northern Alberta
Just wanted to mention that I have in fact finally accomplished this trip with the GP Canoe Club in 2015. I don't have much of a report, but I do have a link to the facebook post from the time. Just thought I would put it up. When I was real green with canoeing this was one trip that was really on my mind. Just thought I would mention it.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/GPCanoe ... 614509075/


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