Peace River Complete!

September 28th, 2010


Well, my paddling for the summer is done — I finished paddling the upstream section of the Peace River last week. A friend of mine and her very cute dog came along this time, so I wasn’t solo. We canoed in one of our 16′ Paluski Fastwater canoes from Hudson’s Hope in BC to Peace River, a total of 375 km. We did it in 8 and a half days, averaging 44 km/day.

It was a great trip! We had a great time, although we experienced all that September weather has to offer. Overall, we can’t complain, as the only rain we got was at night (not counting a few drops on day 2). We had fall fog every morning, and it was pretty chilly at night. We definitely reached the limit — and beyond! — of our zero-degree-rated sleeping bags! Some hunters we met said that it had been -10 C overnight in a town nearby, so it was probably at least -7 C. That explained why we were so cold! We slept in all our clothes, wearing toques and scarves. We also had to wrap up the dog, and a couple of times she was shivering so much, Carolyn got the dog to climb into her sleeping bag to warm up. Little Buddy didn’t like that much — it was a long, dark tunnel to her! — but she didn’t have her winter coat of fur yet so she had to warm up somehow!

We had some pretty nice campsites overall. There’s a cabin at the Cotillian rec area with running water and a wood stove that’s open for people to use — we, unfortunately didn’t know about it until later and we didn’t see the access point. From the river, it just looked like a gravelly creek bed. But, we had a great time camping just the same! One night, in an established camp ground we met some wonderful people who shared their delicious supper with us — marinated steak, caesar salad and baked potatoes with fixings I’d never seen before! Birthday cake, wine, and elk sausage! Oh, we were in heaven! And great company too! Aaah, the bliss of food eaten outdoors, cooked on a fire, with friends! Nothing could be better. 🙂 We met some other nice people on our trip as well, including some hunters that were very generous to share their food and coffee with us. It was funny, because as we were just starting up the bank, we met a gentle, older fellow heading down to work on his boat. He said kindly “Hey, we ordered us a couple of girls!” I replied, “well… sorry we’re late!” It was cute! It wouldn’t have been as cute coming from a slimy guy, but from this grandpa, it was great. 🙂

The water level was still pretty low, and fluctuated quite a bit. Near Hudson’s Hope and the two dams the shores looked unnatural to me. The water levels went down 3 feet one night, causing us a lengthy portage the next morning. Another day, it went up about 2 feet. We were always glad to see the water level up, since it meant we wouldn’t have to worry quite as much about gravel/sand bars. We went the wrong way through a cluster of islands and ended up in a very shallow section one afternoon, where we earned our status as voyageurs. 😉

It’s hard to sum up 9 days in just a few paragraphs. It was fun, cool (literally), gorgeous, interesting, entertaining, and all that! And what I’ve learned will all be going into the Paddling the Peace guide I’m writing for GeoTourism Canada.