With the departure date closing in on them, and a mountain of trip food ready to go in barrels, Charles, the trip organizer, was faced with the uncomfortable possibility that he would be eating dehydrated food for the next 2 months if the Provincial Government didn’t issue their park-use permit to run a commercial canoe trip on the Upper Stikine River. Although there wasn’t any reason to believe the application would be denied, Charles still breathed a sigh of relief when the permit finally arrived in his inbox the day before the trip – really.
Running a trip on a river for the first time with new people always requires an extra dose of tolerance for uncertainty and adversity; which is part of the adventure and what makes the first run so special. For the seven souls who paddled the Upper Stikine River in July of 2015, it was a trip into the unknown. Adding to the list of unknowns was, what was it going to be like to paddle this great northern river in an El Nino year? Will it be in full flood, or will they have to drag their canoes over gravel bars? How difficult will the rapids be? Guidebooks are still only subjective reports; when an author says, “A class 3 rapid”, do they mean an easy rapid requiring some simple manoeuvring, or do they mean, “For expert paddlers only!”, as the government website would suggest?
In the end, all they had to rely on was their skills, each other, good judgement, a willingness to learn, – oh yeah, and strong coffee.
The Upper Stikine definitely lived up to its reputation; spectacular mountain vistas, vast wilderness, damning headwinds, cold rain, radiant sunshine, delightful paddling, and big moose. No doubt, it was a lot of work, but the kind or work that is deeply rewarding. Seven people, with a 30-year age range, coming from totally different backgrounds and a wide range of canoeing experience, safely achieved their common goal to complete one of Canada’s most spectacular canoe expeditions with aplomb.
In this hot summer heat we’ve had, we’ve enjoyed our evenings on the water with fellow paddlers and paddlers to be!
Our Lake Canoe Sessions are open to anyone who would like to try paddling. You may bring your own canoe, SUP, or kayak – or try one from the growing Kanu Tips Paddling School fleet!
Prerequisites: None! Even if you don’t have any paddling gear, the idea is to meet some fellow outdoor enthusiasts, try out a few boats, learn the 3 golden rules of paddling a canoe, and find out how you can take part in this summer’s paddling activities.
Our next evening is July 28th from 7pm to 9pm. We meet at Paddlewheel Park
Could river canoeing be the perfect après ski-season activity?
To answer this question, let us examine a few of the similarities:
Well, the first and most obvious – both sports happen on water – or some form of it. If you’re lucky, you might even slide your skis across the very molecule that ends up splashing against your paddle blade in the river later on that spring.
Then, there is the movement. The repetitive motion transforms into a kind of meditation, where the body mechanics subtly become an extension of your sub-conscience.
On a more philosophical level, to ski or canoe is like immersing yourself into Canadian history. Long ago, if you needed to collect firewood in the winter, you needed some kind of touring skis to access the forest. Similarly, rivers once were the arteries of human transportation. Today, canoeing gives us the chance to revisit those long-lost corridors that were once so significant, but no less important today. The canoe can become a low-impact vehicle with which to explore deep into the back-country where even a hiker might find it difficult to access. Similarly, strapping on those skis gives us the means to explore the secrets of vast areas of our country’s wild areas that otherwise would hold their secrets through 8 months of cold, white solitude.
I’d like to propose that river canoeing is the perfect après ski-season activity. Both sports tend to attract the kind of folks who are looking for unique, meaningful, and sustainable ways to explore Canada’s wilderness.