View topic - Looking for an Alberta/BC Paddling Route for 2013

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PostPosted: November 6th, 2012, 3:13 pm 
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For the past number of years, I have been going with several friends on an annual paddling trip of several days duration. Our group started out paddling canoes but in the past couple of years a couple have gone over to the dark side and are now paddling kayaks. Over the past three years, our annual trip has included:
- Canoe camping while paddling the North Saskatchewan River from Nordegg to Rocky Mountain House, AB.
- Car camping while paddling day trips on the Kootenay River from the National Park to near Canal Flats, BC.
- Car camping while paddling day trips on the Athabasca River upstream and downstream of the Jasper townsite.

We are looking for something new for 2013. Our criteria is:
- Probably Labour Day Long Weekend.
- Water levels must accommodate a late summer trip.
- 4 days max including driving time from Edmonton area.
- Car camping or canoe camping can be considered
- Flatwater and/or whitewater up to CIII can be accommodated.
- Portaging is frowned upon by the kayakers (but could do some limited amount
- Must have good camping locations
- Must be scenic and not overly developed.

I personally would like to paddle the Bowron Lakes circuit in BC, however, due to the longer time required for the Bowron Lake trip, it will have to be another time. I would also like to go back to the Churchill River in northern Saskatchewan (was there in 2009), possibly for a fly-in/paddle out trip like the Paull River, however, that would also exceed the time available for this current trip.

Some possibilities for Labour Day weekend could include:
- NSask R again (love that trip)
- Maligne Lake (never done this but it looks good)
- ????
- ????
- ????

Any suggestions you could provide to help us out would be appreciated.

dave

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PostPosted: November 6th, 2012, 6:28 pm 
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Have you considered the Fraser or the Peace? Both can accommodate short trips.


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PostPosted: November 6th, 2012, 8:06 pm 
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Stencil wrote:
Have you considered the Fraser or the Peace? Both can accommodate short trips.

Had never considered either of those for a weekend trip. Frazier is a pretty big unknown to me, and my perception (possibly wrong) is that it may be too far from here for a weekend trip, and possibly beyond our modest whitewater capabilities.

For the Peace River, I always imagined it as more of a longer expedition style trip, ending up somewhere in the far north. Will go back and look at my maps to see whet shorter trips may work.

Cheers
Dave

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PostPosted: November 6th, 2012, 9:57 pm 
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Have you considered the Brazeau, from the Forestry Trunk Road (or above, at the airport or Smallboy's camp) to the dam? You could do day trips from a camp near the FTR, or the whole length. Shuttle is quite straightforward on the Elk River road.

-jmc


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PostPosted: November 6th, 2012, 11:06 pm 
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jmc wrote:
Have you considered the Brazeau, from the Forestry Trunk Road (or above, at the airport or Smallboy's camp) to the dam? You could do day trips from a camp near the FTR, or the whole length. Shuttle is quite straightforward on the Elk River road.

-jmc


I have in the past looked at the Brazeau R on the maps but have never paddled it. I did paddle the Blackstone during spring flooding a few years back, which is in the same area. Couple of questions come to mind,namely:
- will the Brazeau have enough water in late August or early September to be enjoyable
- what is the level of difficulty of the river

I will check my copy of marks paddling guide when I get a chance.

Thanks Jmc

Dave

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PostPosted: November 7th, 2012, 12:26 am 
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In a normal year water should be no problem on the Brazeau - it's a good sized river. I haven't been there for quite a while now, but have paddled those stretches over the Thanksgiving weekend in the past.

The stretch above the FTR and the run below the FTR down through the "canyon" have rapids I would say up to Grade 3, likely 2+ in the lower water of autumn. Below the canyon the river is basically braided and fast-flowing to the reservoir.

-jmc


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PostPosted: November 7th, 2012, 7:08 am 
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Mark Lunds guide has some info on shorter Peace trips and the Fraser above and below McBride is mellow accessible and scenic. Driving time is 2 hrs West of Jasper to McBride.


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PostPosted: November 8th, 2012, 3:27 am 
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Location: Back to Winnipeg
North Thompson somewhere? Maybe too far from Edmonton? But probably good for flexible access and at that time of year.

P.

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PostPosted: November 8th, 2012, 9:57 am 
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jmc wrote:
In a normal year water should be no problem on the Brazeau - it's a good sized river. I haven't been there for quite a while now, but have paddled those stretches over the Thanksgiving weekend in the past.

The stretch above the FTR and the run below the FTR down through the "canyon" have rapids I would say up to Grade 3, likely 2+ in the lower water of autumn. Below the canyon the river is basically braided and fast-flowing to the reservoir.

-jmc


Spent a bit of time looking at maps along the Brazeau River yesterday. Driving distance is quite doable. May have to get a little creative with shuttles to make it work, unless we were to do day trips. Checked Mark Lund's guide and his website. He doesn't give classifications for the rapids but does indicate that it is several times more difficult than the North Sask River Nordegg to Rocky Mountain House route. Need to find out a little more on the difficulty, but is definitely worth considering.

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PostPosted: November 8th, 2012, 10:07 am 
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yarnellboat wrote:
North Thompson somewhere? Maybe too far from Edmonton? But probably good for flexible access and at that time of year.

P.


LOL. I drove along the North Thomson several times over the past two years on my way between Edmonton and Kamloops. Had to really concentrate on staying on the Highway at times as I was constantly looking at every riffle and rapid along the river and mentally planning how I would paddle each section. We even stopped a couple of times to go and scout a rapid. I would love to go back and spend some time trying my luck on several of these sections of the river, however, unfortunately it would likely be too much of a drive for a weekend trip.

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PostPosted: November 8th, 2012, 5:14 pm 
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I did the Brazeau two years ago late in the summer and used Kirk of Drayton Valley Taxi for my shuttle 780 514 7832. We met at the DV Canadian Tire Store and took both vehicles to the get out of the water spot at the campground by the dam on the reservoir. Kirk then hopped in my vehilce, and directed me to the Forestry Trunk crossing. I bailed out with my gear and Kirk returned the vehicle to the dam campsite. A remote shuttle that I probably overpaid for ($300), but I finished the trip early and Kirk was very accomodating and gave me a second free shuttle to spend a couple of days on the North Sask. A great trip that I hope to do again next year.


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PostPosted: November 10th, 2012, 10:40 am 
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Rob S wrote:
I did the Brazeau two years ago late in the summer and used Kirk of Drayton Valley Taxi for my shuttle 780 514 7832. We met at the DV Canadian Tire Store and took both vehicles to the get out of the water spot at the campground by the dam on the reservoir. Kirk then hopped in my vehilce, and directed me to the Forestry Trunk crossing. I bailed out with my gear and Kirk returned the vehicle to the dam campsite. A remote shuttle that I probably overpaid for ($300), but I finished the trip early and Kirk was very accomodating and gave me a second free shuttle to spend a couple of days on the North Sask. A great trip that I hope to do again next year.


Brazeau sounds like a possibility and i will keep it on the list. Think I will take an early season drive out that way and maybe check it out, possibly paddling the Blackstone again as well. Will need to know from a first hand look before I can commit this group that I m going with to paddling this river later in the season.

Any other options? I have never paddled in southern Alberta. Are there any rivers there that may meet our criteria?

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PostPosted: November 13th, 2012, 3:12 pm 
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The upper Red Deer river from YaHa Tinda to Sundre may be of interest. I was able to do this trip immediately after the Brazeau in 2011. I used Mountain Aire Lodge for my shuttle ($50) and spent 4 days on the river. Some of the rapids were too big for my skills with a fully loaded tandom canoe and no backup. Portages were basically a lift over the feature and we were back on our way. The Red Deer was overall more difficult than the Brazeau, but lacked a sense of remoteness. Given the choice, I would prefer to do the Brazeau again due to the amazing canyon run and the remoteness of the trip. Only cons were the cost of the shuttle and the flatwater finish on the reservoir.


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PostPosted: November 13th, 2012, 5:45 pm 
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Rob S wrote:
The upper Red Deer river from YaHa Tinda to Sundre may be of interest. I was able to do this trip immediately after the Brazeau in 2011. I used Mountain Aire Lodge for my shuttle ($50) and spent 4 days on the river. Some of the rapids were too big for my skills with a fully loaded tandom canoe and no backup. Portages were basically a lift over the feature and we were back on our way. The Red Deer was overall more difficult than the Brazeau, but lacked a sense of remoteness. Given the choice, I would prefer to do the Brazeau again due to the amazing canyon run and the remoteness of the trip. Only cons were the cost of the shuttle and the flatwater finish on the reservoir.


For past several years, I have paddled the Upper Red Deer River between Mountain Air Lodge and Cache Hill (?) as day trips, usually camping either at Wysenchuks or Cache Hill and then working shuttles from there. Although this has always been a blast and worth a few unexpected swims, it may be just a little too much WW for a couple of my buddies. If Brazeau has a lower level of difficulty compared to Upper RDR, that is another point in favor of that trip.

Rob, I believe that you provided me with a guide to the Kootenay R and White R a couple years ago before we paddled the Kootenay. How would you rate the Brazeau River in difficulty relative to the Kootenay River?

Edit: Hey, this is post #400 :thumbup:

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PostPosted: November 14th, 2012, 2:03 pm 
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A difficult question to answer. I have only paddled each river the one time and the water levels really dictate the difficulty. I would have to do a little bit of digging to state what the exact levels were, but as I recall they were both in the middle of Mark Lund's range. I tend to paddle with only two guys in one tandem boat, and when in doubt while scouting a rapid we always have chosen the least painful option.
The Kootenay is a much bigger river and we ran all the rapids with the exception of Palliser which we lined. A wipeout on the Kootenay would likely be caused either by swamping or hitting a rock and would result in a long swim.
The Brazeau could be split into three parts: canyon, braided portion, and reservoir. The canyon was very exciting and absolutely spectacular!! There were no rock hazards that I recall and the only real issue was swamping. My boat has a spray deck and we buried the front half several times. I would hesitate to do this trip in an open canoe for this reason only. There was no option of portaging, but the canyon was relatively easy with the covered canoe. The braided portion of the river was quite swift with lots of wood hazards. In my opinion this was more difficult and dangerous than the canyon, not a place for lollygagging.
Both rivers were challenging but in different ways. It would be easier to wreck your boat and hurt yourself on the Kootenay (I think), but the wood on the Brazeau came at us really fast.
If I understand your origonal posting correctly it is your intent to use kayaks. If this is the case, I don't imagine that your group will get into trouble. I find it really hard to identify which have been my best trips, but the Brazeau is definately worth doing!!
On a seperate note, my canoe partner of the last five years has given up the sport after suffering a knee injury on a portage in Northern Saskatchewan last summer. As a result I find myself without a partner and would like to use this post to possibly recruit a new paddling buddy. I live in Okotoks and would love to hear from you.


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