Harrison River September 28, 2019
This trip was anything but the typical Harrison River paddle. The many who have done this trip before in later September mostly recall a crisp morning with a calm or light breeze to start the day and afternoon winds often coming up from the south west after lunch . This trip is well known for the head wind battle that can come at the end of the day though it’s common on many trips to have a beautiful calm paddle home. Not the story for today’s paddle.
The forecast was for 19km winds with 35km gusts from the north east. This would mean a tail wind all the way down the river once we crossed the lake along the south shore to the month of the Harrison River; that proved to be a bit of a bouncy paddle. Harrison Lake is a 40 km long lake with Echo Island sheltering most of the Harrison Hotsprings shoreline from about 1km off shore. The only exposed portion of the shoreline is from our put in location near the Harrison Hotel to the mouth of the Harrison River. This means the swells in that area can get big when the wind blows from the northeast. This is because it blows across at least 25 km of open water from Long Island to that section of the shoreline and so it was to be.
We had 8 boats with 14 of the 16 paddlers meeting at Kilby Park for the usual shuttle arrangements. Our party included Dave W and Rose D, Brian and Sue McK, Monica and Margret, Vincent L and Lea W, Dave A and his daughter Kimberly, Guests Dave and Diane W, and Carole and I. Gerry and Marie H stayed in Harrison the night before and met us at the put-in. We met on the beach and readied our boats, to the surprise of onlookers who were surprised anyone would want to paddle on such a day. But though there were swells it was possible to follow the shoreline to the river and should any problems develop the wind would blow people back to the shore.
The launch was mostly uneventful; a little finesse was needed to get off shore in the waves that were breaking onto the beach, unfortunately Rose got pretty wet with one wave and decided it was better pass on the paddle as she was already cold. No one was surprised when Dave W soldiered on solo for the day. After getting into the river there was still some chop near the mouth as the area is still exposed to considerable gusts from the lake. We regrouped to make sure everyone was ok and proceeded along the shoreline in the most sheltered route.
As we journeyed further down, the waves became smaller and the winds move manageable pushing us swiftly downstream. The sun was out, skies mostly blue and it was a really good group to paddle with. We stopped and the Morris Creek entrance for lunch and decided not to go up that channel on this paddle. On the next leg of the trip Dave W often does the inside channel in Nov/ Dec when the fish are running so we decided to travel down the outside channel to avoid repeating the exact same trip in a month or so. It was a fun part as the current moved quickly and the water was fairly calm. At this point the winds were of little consequence since we were moving quickly in the same direction. In the last stretch before the bridge the winds were again present with sizable chop on the main channel of the lower river. We stayed along the east shore, eventually getting behind a log boom that provided a good stretch of calm water up to bridge. From there to the take out at Kilby things finished up with an easy downwind push; overall it was a very windy experience but one that turned out to be a terrific day. The final stop on the way home was at the old Dewdney Pub on the Nicomen Slough, a favorite stop when we paddle that channel. The food was good, the conversation fun and I think a good time was had by all. Looking forward to doing it again!