Archive for September, 2015

2014 Year in Review – Paddling

September 6, 2015

Nose Creek – April 13, 2014

After the initial early paddle in March (see previous post), I kept my eye on the water levels on Nose Creek. On April 13 a rapid snow melt happened to coincide with a free weekend day. The creek was running well above average flow, so I paddled a new reach further upstream. This reach has several hazards including a submersed car, old bridge piers, barbed-wire fences, weirs, an old foot bridge and notable rapids and is not recommended for beginners. Not to mention frigid water temperature (I wore a dry suit top). High flow is needed to get over the weirs without portaging. There was lots of wildlife to view including waterfowl and a coyote.

Canada Geese and Coyote (on hill top)

Mallard Ducks and Coyote (on hill top)

Coyote

Coyote

Sandstone

Sandstone

This reach included some rapids that were challenging in this boat without thigh straps. I took in a few inches of water crossing the eddy lines. After this trip I installed thigh straps, which would have given better control and a dryer run.

Rapids

Rapids

When I got close to home, I portaged the boat on foot with the cart directly back to my house (I was dropped off at the put-in). I wasn’t able to use the bicycle portage again due to construction work that blocked the access.

Highwood River – May 24, 2014

Next trip was a family paddle with the local club on the Highwood River. Highlights included cliff swallows, heron nesting sites, a firsthand look at last year’s flood damage and debris (including speedboats wrapped around trees), lunch stop along some dirt cliffs which the kids enjoyed playing, jumping and digging in, and a few rapids. This route is not recommended for beginners due to flood debris hazard potential, a sweeper (tree in the water) and some sizeable rapids.

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Snack break

Fence buried in river silt

Fence buried in river silt

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Kananaskis River – June 22, 2014

One of my medium-term goals was to advance to a skill level where I could paddle the lower Kananaskis River. This reach of river is generally considered to require intermediate paddling skills (not for beginners). On June 22 I attended a paddling lesson at Canoe Meadows which focused on different paddle strokes for eddy turns and ferries. I had the longest/largest boat in the class which required a few extra strokes to complete some of the eddy turns. After the lesson a few from the group paddled downstream.

I attempted to paddle through (rather than portage) the infamous “Powerline Hole”, a new feature after the 2013 floods and the largest rapid on this reach. A “hole” is a rapid that causes a wave that turns back on itself and may have a circulating current below it. The Powerline Hole is speculated to be “non-retentive” based on the experience of a few swimmers, which means the risk of a swimmer being trapped in a recirculating current is likely low.

I didn’t have my angle quite right going into the rapid, so I ended up sideways beside the rapid paddling as hard as I could. The current was sucking me into the hole at the same speed that I could paddle. For what felt like a long time I paddled as hard as I could, trying slightly different angles to get beyond the grip of the current. To add to the pressure, an entire class of junior kayakers were taking a break on shore and watching me throughout my battle! After what felt like 5 minutes, but was probably more like 30 seconds, I managed to break free from the current and take a much needed rest on shore. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the rapid.

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After this trip I had an extremely busy summer at work and cancelled a paddling trip that was planned in August due to sickness. The boats never made it back on the water until next spring.

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