Merritt to Sunshine Valley – Rivers Week June 29, 2018

Rivers Week June 29, 2018 – Merritt to Sunshine Valley Road East trip report – by Pam Farish

Trip Leader – Mike; paddlers included Sandra, Scott with Halle and Eric; Tim, Mirella with Tia; Pam with Mike; Jen (solo boat); Margaret and Monica.

It was a long day, however the children had fun and paddled abit, and especially enjoyed their time ashore. The trip was described as grade 1, which it was, however it had an exceptional number of hazards – we were confronted with lots of wood/debris pile ups in the middle of the river and along the banks and sweepers.

We scouted and lined the boats seven times during this trip. There was also one big log right across the entire river which we came upon suddenly after turning a corner! Everyone quickly got safely ashore and it required only a short 25 foot portage before we launched again. Mike and Pam did dump, as they were lead boat and took a rapid in a way that ended up directing them into the branches of a tree that had only very recently fallen off the bank into the water – all the branches still had all their green leaves, and the branches were reasonably pliable, a bit forgiving and hanging straight down like a heavy bead curtain. They were tipped out but did not get trapped in the branches.

No injuries and they felt very lucky to be able to self-rescue, and swim the canoe and themselves away from the hazard to the nearest gravel bar.   Shortly after, there was another time when Pam had to crawl out of the river onto a rocky bar while Mike was able to eddy out the canoe abit downriver from Pam. From that point on we had no further “swims”.

The weather was like what every day was during Rivers week – clouds, sunny periods and pleasant paddling temperatures, maybe high teens. On this trip we saw animals and birds – lots of eagles, an osprey, a deer, domestic horses and a beaver- if you didn’t see his head, you heard his tail slap. This was a long trip, 5 hours, so we were all glad to go ashore at Sunshine Valley Road East, river left, where there was some small gravel and sand to take out onto. River right was totally destroyed with the bank collapsing into the river as a result of severe undercutting.

For me this trip reinforced a valuable safety practice which is when faced with uncertainty due to hazards, rapids, the course of the river, everyone goes to shore or the gravel bar and gets out to scout the hazards and discuss possible routes to paddle or to line. And everyone must feel comfortable with the decision taken, whether it is lining the boats or paddling the rapids.

Another great day during Rivers Week!