PaddlingABC was formed in the winter of 2009 with a flurry of posts on CalPaddle (Calgary area paddling forum) and a face to face meeting to set some priorities. The challenge for the whitewater paddling community in Alberta is that the Stewart Smith guidebooks we all treat as bibles are now out of print and becoming harder and harder to find. These guidebooks are in many ways still the gold standard for us all and we owe a great debt to Stewart and the work he put into them. In order to address this challenge PaddlingABC was created. It has gone through three versions already and is still a work in progress.
The name is short for Paddling Alberta and BC.
Another challenge with paddling websites that was identified is that they are often well maintained for a period of months or years and then when whomever is managing them moves on to other things in life they languish in cyberspace eventually becoming outdated. In order to address this challenge it was critical that PaddlingABC be a wiki based website. The structure is maintained by Eric Howey but the river entries are made and maintained by you and for you!
In developing the structure for this website a number of other goals were laid out, not all of which have been accomplished yet. Google Earth integration was an obvious and important goal and on this front we have largely succeeded. Developing a system for river alerts was an important goal and has been implemented but admittedly is still less than perfect. Another goal that we did achieve was to have live river levels on the website much like the American White Water (definitely an inspiration) website. This year we have added custom support for smart phones to make PaddlingABC even more useful on that paddling bum road trip.
In the future as PaddlingABC expands west across BC (the majority of the rivers are currently centered around the Alberta/BC border) and we crest 100 river entries in the guide it will be important to create the organizational framework to support users from across Canada rather than focusing on Canadian Rockies based users as we have been these first two years. We are all looking forward to continuing to grow and meet the needs of paddlers across western Canada.