Welcome to PaddlingABC! This is a community run website dedicated to promoting paddling and river conservation in western Canada. This site is a wiki, please get involved and contribute in whatever way you can. If you find yourself stuck there are some help files you can read. For the most up to date news please read the blog below and follow us on Facebook. The information on this website is not perfect and no amount of reading can replace good judgement gained from years of experience paddling, more about this in our disclaimer.
I am pretty pumped for the creeking season this year and just took the Intermediate Creeking Course from Aquabatics to kick things off, which was fantastic. I got on both the Wigwam and the Skookumchuck which are both runs I had on my “to do” list for some time. As the season starts I want to say a brief piece about ego, luck and skill and how these have impacted my paddling.
I have been paddling in one form or another for a long time, since I was about 10 years old, and probably have somewhere around 500 days on water in my life. When I first arrived out west I was a confident class II whitewater paddler in a tandem canoe but had never kayaked in my life. As soon as I learned to roll I was almost immediately a class III paddler as I had the knowledge to read and run rapids but had been paddling expedition style whitewater where you have to be much more risk adverse than at your local river. I progressed quickly in kayaking and started running things I had no business being on – stupid.
The perfect example of this for me is a rapid like Tiger Jaws on the Sheep. I ran it a few times a number of years ago and had a close call in there. I landed on the boil and got pushed against the wall. I didn’t have the experience/instinct to lean against the wall and tried to push off which resulted in me flipping and going upside down through the second portion of that drop. My paddle broke and there was so much force that I didn’t even feel it break…what if that had been my head and helmet? Would it really have protected me? I don’t know that I appreciated how serious this could have been until a few years later…at the time it was just one of those things that happened but in reality I did not have enough skill to be running that drop. I still walk it today and will continue to walk it until I know that I can nail that boof every time.
A mix of luck, ego, and skill got me down quite a few runs when I first came out west, stupid. Today I am working to shift that balance to minimize the role that ego and luck play in my paddling. Having the humility to walk a drop is more important than having the ego to run a drop. The drops will be there next season, and the season after that, and the one after that. Make sure you are confident about the lines you take and invest in river rescue certification, first aid training, instructional courses and, most importantly, getting days on the water. Contact your local paddling shop for more details.
Giddy up creeking season is here!
Just a quick note about the river maps. I have been adding some more information into the river maps file over the last few hours and the file size has exceeded what Google allows for a ”.kml” file. This is both good news and bad news. The good news is that there is a lot of information in the map file on a lot of rivers! The bad news is that I now need to update the website and the way it loads the map files. This will be a serious pain in my ass and take time to go through nearly 100 river entries and update all of the file names. I am going to try and minimize any irregularities on the website but if a map is not working or you can't see the information and think that you should then this is probably why. Hopefully I will have this all ironed out in the next few weeks. Here is the most current map file: http://www.paddlingabc.com/paddlingabc-rivers.kmz
Ready for spring?! PaddlingABC is; the backend of the website that powers everything has been updated and should provide a smooth, stable experience for folks over the summer months. There is still a bit of updating that I want to do to the Google earth files and some of the newly added river entries from last summer. I think we are almost at 100 entries in the database, which is pretty cool, if I can say so. For the most part the major runs in Alberta are fully documented. If anyone is reading this and based out of BC, particularly out the Revelstoke way, it would be great to get some info on the Jordan, Illecillewaet, and other rivers near there. I have never paddled any of them so can’t really be of any help.
The river gauges will all report errors and no data until they come online from the Alberta government so don’t worry. Some of the gauges should start reporting soon while other gauges, particularly farther north, can take a while to register the proper flows.
The website itself will probably remain relatively stable over this summer. The only structural changes I am looking at are tagging the river entries by “nearest urban center” and potentially going back to a colored gauge system as it was previously.
The “River Alert” system did not get much use last summer. I am hoping it sees more use this summer. The alerts will be automatically posted to Facebook after a short delay and this should help spread important news about hazards out there. I know that people also really want to discuss these hazards on places like Calpaddle so if you are making an alert consider posting a link to the discussion on Calpaddle or other paddling forums.
If you have any other thoughts please feel free to let me know via email, facebook, or commenting on here. Thanks and happy boating!