Lower Nicola, Saturday July 2nd, Rivers Week 2016

nick-manoevering-on-the-coldwaterTo catch the tail end of Rivers Week, my family once again loaded up our car (or in this case our rental, but I don’t want to talk about that) and made our way to the Nicola to see our paddling friends and camp among the cacti. This year I was even able to get in a full day of paddling! It had been too long since I spent a day on the Nicola, and at low water (18 m3/s near Spences Bridge) the lower run offers more eddies than you can shake a paddle at.

Looking around at Happy Hour when we arrived on Friday, there were a few new or newish faces, but mainly seasoned vets like Carey, John & Madeline, Anne & Alain, and of course the Daves (K, Middleton and Westell). It was established around the fire that: Scott would lead the lower run; Carey/Skyler would lend me a yellow boat; Anne’s meatballs were delicious; and, if you contribute a bottle of wine to the table for Happy Hour, you can’t take the leftovers away with you. So all was good and I was set to paddle.

On Saturday, we had a typically hot, windy Nicola day and a group of 2 tandems and 7 solos, and then… lo and behold another rig rattled into the campsite, and Phil & Andrie were able to join our convoy. I understand that trips were mostly tandems earlier in the week, so I guess this was solo day.

Heather and her puppy Tobi helped with the shuttle and made friends with the campers at the put-in (Tobi almost got eaten by a not-so-puppyish dog). After admiring their hot tub and getting ourselves organized, we shoved off into the gentle current and immediately started tucking in our colourful boats behind all kinds of rocks and waves, following Anne & Alain down the river.

For a guy who hasn’t paddled much, the routine and the river felt pretty familiar to me. Then I looked around and realized why: of the 13 folks on the trip, 8 were paddling together as Beavers when I joined the club some 17 years ago! That doesn’t count Phil & Andrie, who aren’t exactly new members, and I’ve seen Bill, Greg and Scott around for a few seasons too. For the club, I’m not sure whether that speaks to success with retention or a big problem with recruitment, but I was happy to be among old friends on the river!

Not much to report from the river. The flow was very gentle, yet without bumping, so it was a comfortable group (skills-wise, less so in our knees and ankles as the day went on) enjoying a relaxed day and making very good use of the eddies of waves. A highlight was that John’s fancy PFD carries extra sunscreen! Scott ate his whole lunch, and then the lunch hole ate Scott! In other excitement, there was a brief swim or two along the way, but even the rescues were comfortable and relaxed (perhaps there had been more practice earlier in the week?).

Thanks for my loaner boat to Carey/Skyler (and perhaps Phil Rankin, who may actually own it?, and to Bernard and others who offered other options), and thanks for a good day on the river to Scott, Anne & Alain, Phil, Andrie, Greg, Bill, Chris, John, Madeline, and Don & Donna (and to Tanis for taking the kids and letting me paddle!).

Pat Yarnell.

(11 boats, 18 m3/s)

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