With Tim and Hunter off on a boys trip in Saskatchewan with Tim’s family, and continued fall like weather in Whitehorse, I decided to head to the west kootenay region for some warm weather kayaking with the great folks at Endless Adventures. What was planned to be a five day kayak session turned into a fabulous summer adventure camp – warm weather, warm water and great people!
I flew in and out of Calgary using a credit that I had on Air North, which helped to decrease the overall costs of the adventure. What it did mean though was I started my trip with an 8 hour drive to Crescent Valley (between Nelson and Castlegar)… For anyone else looking to go to the area, I would firmly recommend flying in and out of the Castlegar airport, which is just 20 minutes from Crescent Valley.
Endless Adventures has a great location, right at the put in for the lower Slocan river and within close proximity of a whole lot of other rivers and play spots in the West Kootenay region.
I spent the week camped in their campground (really just a field with a wash house), which is up the hill behind their retail store. Nice views and easy access to paddling and the local beach made this a nice place to call home. There is an organic grocery store right next door and a yummy breakfast/lunch spot about 200 yards up the road.
I spent my first two days doing runs on the lower Slocan – trying out different Jackson Kayak boats and refining skills. The water is bath-tub warm and the run takes about 2 hours if you are working/playing your way down or about 45 minutes if it’s just a straight paddle through. With lots of people around to paddle there seemed to be always someone to paddle with, the only challenge being shuttles. Its about a 4km shuttle back up to the put in. The Slocan river is a very popular float trip with people putting in at lots of different places and then taking out at Crescent Valley, where the kayakers then put in. Selling inflatable inner tubes is big business here!
That night a kootenay style storm rolled in and I found myself hunkered down in my tent for 2 hours (after I had retrieved it from across the field where it blew as the winds came up out of no-where) with the rain and wind just howling. Lots of lightning and thunder going on. Some spot fires got started up and down the valley and there was a lot of Wildland Fire traffic that evening.
Day three was a run on Wilson Creek with “the boys”. It was a fabulous instructor/student ratio of 4:1 as everyone was up for some fun that day. It was my first real creeking experience and definitely overwhelming. What the boys thought of as simple and straight forward, I found scary and big. I am super proud of having made it through with only one swim and a few well timed rolls and feel much more confident about my ability to paddle creeks. Our upcoming trip to Ecuador with Endless Adventures International will add a lot more creeking experience as well.
We capped off the day with some swimming and cliff jumping at “Paradise”, an area just below one of the dams on the Kootenay river. This was another stretch as I went off the 10 foot rocks. “The boys” well outdid me with flips and dives off the 30 foot rocks!
Day four was a day of exploring around Nelson and Castlegar in the morning and then a lazy afternoon spent in the lounge swing getting some work done… AGAIN – LOVE MY JOB 🙂
That night the winds picked up again and sparked up a small fire that was smouldering about 4km up the valley. The internet and radio were calling for an evacuation but no one really seemed to be going anywhere. After much driving up and down the road to check things out I opted to pack up my tent and sleep in my car outside the Endless Adventure shop so I could leave quickly if it continued to grow. That lasted about 2 hours until I was waaaay too hot and uncomfortable and drove back up the hill and set everything back up again in the dark! Hunter would have loved to see all the Wildland Fire helicopters and planes flying around…
Day five was spent exploring 2 of the park and play spots down near Castlegar and starting to learn some play boating skills. I have NEVER rolled that much in one day and was exhausted by lunch time! Playboating is way harder than it looks and will definitely take some more practice and immersion for me. I will be in search of more warm water for continued lessons…
To get some confidence back I did two more runs on the Lower Slocan and practiced eddie turns, side surfing and rock boofing before getting back into the car and driving 8 hours back to Calgary on Day six.
Crazy busy six days that were jammed with all the fun I could find. Very little stress as I was only worried about myself, which was a gift in itself! We will hopefully be back next summer as a family as this is a great place for any and all paddlers.