Trip Report – Harrison River Sept 2017

The trip was billed as an easy paddle through the valley farmlands with some moving water in the middle. There was casual interest until Friday afternoon when this quiet country paddle stirred the interest of the masses and suddenly people began emailing and calling asking to come along. Not wanting to leave anyone out, the attendance grew from 4 boats and 8 people to 8 boats with 18 people including plans for a large 4 paddler boat to come along. As exciting as it was to have all the interest and different boats it became questionable whether the stopping points could host the growing numbers. I later learned that the introduction of a waitlist was apparently a new and surprising experience for Margaret and Monica, but fortunately everyone was able to come along in the end. All muster points went as planned so we were able to get off to a good start for the day.

It was a clear, calm morning with temperatures around 15 degrees at launch time. Some adjustments were accounted for before we left as Bryan’s 4 person boat did not materialize but gladly he was able to join us with his son Karey; this left us with a final total of 8 boats and 16 paddlers. John and Suzanna graciously volunteered to provide “sweep” services as we concluded our safety briefing and pre-trip routines while they played the dual role of tour guide to their guests Raoul and Nadine who were visiting from Germany.

Simon and George paddled near the front of the group most of the day as Carole and I enjoyed the new conversation. We plodded our way along the river banks hoping those in the group who had paddled this route before would be able to point out some of the highlights new to us. We have boated this part of the river for many years but it is a very different perspective from a canoe; we did manage to find the pictograms though there was some debate about the authenticity of the second ones.

We stopped at Morris Creek for lunch which has a rock trail leading to the top of some bluffs where there are some beautiful views of the river, a perfect place for a new trip leader to imagine all that could go wrong in this unaccounted for variable. After lunch we discussed the prospect of paddling up Morris Creek to Morris Lake but the interest was split so a compromise was agreed upon; interested parties would paddle a few hundred yards up Morris Creek to see what was there while the others would hold steady on the bank/beach near our lunch spot. April and Pam hung back with Jill and Paddy while the rest of us went “up the creek with our paddles”.

The next stop was at the old cemetery on the opposite bank, still tended to; this site provides a glimpse into the past, of a time when, in 1863 a small pox epidemic struck the local population. This is the Catholic Cemetery where they laid their dead to rest. Paddy had been stealing a few naps at the different stops, explaining that he had worked very hard the day before; we all listened but secretly wondered if the flat-water paddling was a bit too much for this white-water enthusiast J

Heading into the last half of the trip we headed down through the moving water portion of the trip and yes, Paddy was wide awake. As we left the canyon into the open river and faster moving water we stayed on river left and discovered a number of gravel bars that created a series of shallow spots to work through; those a little further to the right easily glided past the area. We all collected at the bottom of the run in a large eddy and planned the last stop before our final paddle in, a gravel island with shade to offer a nice break from the 25 degree afternoon sun. We no sooner landed when bodies began losing paddling attire in favor of swimming attire and into the water they went; a nice swim for some, a snack for others and just rest, and yes, another nap for Paddy.

Our last leg was into a head wind but seemed fairly easy after the good break. With shuttles in place the closing of the day went well and it seems everyone had a good day. For my part if was a pleasure to lead the trip as everyone made sure the day stayed close to our planned trip and it was a real pleasure to meet some of the new faces.