Thursday, July 31, 2014

First Paddle

On a Saturday in early May Andrew and I paddled from town back home. Along the MacIntyre Creek confluence we ran into swans. Around the corner we stopped at Ben's camp and snoozed in the sun after failing to make much of a dent in The Guardian crossword. And then onwards.

We put in by the boat launch downtown, after dragging the canoe over 100 metres of ice to the river's edge. Even there the ice was still about 50 cm thick so it made a nice, if somewhat wet and slippery dock. The float was beautiful, sunny, warm and with a slight south wind.

Passing by the old dock piles indicates how much the river drops over the winter. It is a good time to see where the sandbars have moved over the past year.

Along the way we pass the site of the World War II oil refinery and oil storage yard. Remediation of the soil and the placement of metal casing is supposed to prevent any further migration of old petroleum waste into the river.

The water is low. Sandbars and rocks, all still thickly armored with sheets of ice, towering out of the water. At last snow, we pulled into shore, and listened to the dripping melt and the tinkling of the stream meandering under the ice sheet, peaceful and zen like. 

Around the corner we see the complete beaver lodge, even down to the winter entry tunnel which is now a couple of hands above the water line. Nearby, another flock of swans.

At Takhini confluence we paddled against the current along the left bank, the usual sweepers well above our heads, but large blocks of ice filled the channel. We were able to navigate amongst them but as one or two slid under the canoe, they heaved us unevenly upwards as the ice didn't want to sink any further. The wallowing of the canoe was uncomfortable in the dark grey green water full of sharp edged blocks - swimming would be no fun. As we attempted to pull out of the last eddy for the charge up towards the bridge the current and ice grabbed the canoe and we spun back down stream. A quick recovery, we regained the eddy and decided that the danger of exiting the river over the ice hanger was less than getting whacked by the ice flow. And we were out and, like the start, we dragged the canoe over  a couple of hundred metres of ice to the launch and home.

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