A whitewater canyon started the day off and after a rock climbing bushwhack, I was able to scout out the rapids in the canyon. Fortunately, I had the right outfitting with my spraydeck and I was able to paddle the rapids. The canyon was very beautiful and it wasn’t long before I caught Arctic Grayling. After a long day of wilderness travel, I found a great campsite to stop for the night, started a fire and cooked my fish.
Beavers are a common sighting along the river and the next morning I got close to one. A while later I came up to a surprise rapid at a tight bend in the river. It was not marked on my 1:50,000 Canadian topographic map. Getting out of my canoe to scout it, I discovered a challenging rapid and decided to run it. After scouting, I left my digital camera out on a rapid-side rock and set it to take a picture every couple seconds. I had a lot of whitewater video footage, but I wanted a still image of me running a rapid for a magazine article I was going to have published on this trip (check out the winter addition of Explore magazine).
To get a good shot, I decided to run a line that was more challenging than necessary (poor decision). Back in the canoe, as I approached the wave train, I realized it was a lot larger and more irregular than anticipated. I dumped almost immediately and was quickly separated from my canoe in the strong, irregular current. Swept under water, I gasped for air a number of times – it was a pretty rough swim. I was a ways down river by the time I climbed out and I couldn’t see my canoe anywhere. Walking back up river, I was relieved when I saw it lodged half up on shore in a large eddy, mid-way down the rapid. But by the time I reached it, it got kicked out of the eddy and I had to jump in the river and swim after it.
After a long hard swim that took me right past the spot I’d initially climbed out, I finally caught up to the canoe. Because of the strong current and the fact that I was holding a paddle in one hand, and a camera bracket in the other, I was 1km down river by the time I managed to finally wrestle the canoe to shore! Relieved that I’d avoided disaster, I now had to walk back up river to retrieve my camera. On the way, I found raspberries and wild sage, I had to do a little sketchy rock climbing in order to reach it the camera as well, and I also shared how to use the powder that young Poplar Trees produce on their trunks as a mild sunscreen.
Walking back to my canoe, after retrieving the camera, I was dive bombed a couple times by and angry seagull. Before to long, I finally made it back to my canoe and was ready to move on. What an ordeal! The whole thing was pretty scary but I managed to come out unscathed, saved for a scrape on my thumb and a lost GoPro.
Be sure to come back for the next episode of tis series!
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