Ruskin Dam Tail Waters Evening Paddle – 20-06-18
This is an accessible and pleasant paddle that can be done in 1 to 2 ½ hours depending on how much time you want to spend there. In the summer the levels are lower and expose some nice areas to dip in and cool off, also the spawning channel has a number of shallow areas that can be fun for kids to play in when water levels are good. The tail waters of Ruskin dam are tidal waters and directly affected by river flood levels. We have very high flood water levels for this paddle so taking advantage of them means getting further into areas we don’t normally access. Peripheral areas that are normally wetlands are surprisingly accessible on this trip.
Our group of 11 paddlers shove off at about 6 pm after the greetings and pre-trip briefing. Mike D & Dave W as tandem but it was Mike D in the bow this time, a spot he seldom occupies. Ian C & Jaylene P, Anya Mc & Serrat , Shahram A & Kathy B, along with Carole P and I make up the remaining tandems while Luke M is our sole solo boat this evening. We put in at the BC Hydro parking lot boat launch area on the east side of the water and head up the flooded spawning channel; it leads the base of the dam where the boundary floats ensure a safe distance from the water releases at the base of the dam. The water always has some current here depending on levels but it can be a nice place to ride the current down the west shoreline as a starting point for the trip.
Our group follows the shoreline nearly to the highway looking into nooks and crannies along the grassy banks. There are often Blue Heron, Osprey and numerous other species of water fowl to be seen. As we near the highway the road noise can take away from the normally quiet paddle so we cross back to the east shoreline that is now accessible well past its normal banks, over to the dyke that holds Silvermere Lake. It is a very pretty and quiet paddle as we move away from the highway; the lush green foliage and glassy water create a tranquil feeling as we make our way into the mouth of the spawning channel. This is a modified waterway and wetland designed to optimize spawning space for the salmon in the fall. It can be a crowded place once the salmon runs start and the fishing season gets under way; but for now it remains a wide, quiet wetland with the occasional beaver and muskrat sighting.
We paddle back to our launch point for a stretch and washroom break. We decide another sojourn down the main channel and back up a different braided channel will add just the right amount of time to this trip so off we go. We return by going back up to the bottom of the dam and drifting back down that portion of the spawning channel right back to our launch and take out point. All together it was about 2 ½ hours. We were loaded and ready to go soon after as there were paddlers coming from the tri-cities area who had a bit of a drive to get home in the evening. A nice evening paddle for everyone.