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.
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.
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.
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.
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.