A boat on an open ocean without a rudder.

The upcoming trip to Canada is probably one of my difficult trips to plan. It started with a simple goal to do some packrafting at the Canadian rendezvous at Mt Robson in October last year as a result of a coinciding announcement and a sale by Canadian airlines. Someone on the Facebook forum speculated that the water would be too high due to snow melts and so I had to make a quick decision before the sales ended.

I changed the dates from June to March 2019 in with the view to do a skiing holiday. It was set. The problem was that I got busy as I always do trying to meet customer demands before my big family holiday in Tanzania in January.  We got back from our holiday in February, my wife collected the flu and I wasn’t too well either. March wasn’t going to happen

Little did I know, I could have put the change on hold as a credit for another and saved $200.  I found this out as I was about to cancel the trip – losing my money. There was another announcement in Feb sometime saying that the rendezvous was on. Hang it – I’ll do that: I should have stuck to the original trip it would have saved a thousand bucks. One of the problems was that I did this whole thing as a spur of the moment decision and really did not have the time required, which is what is required when a self organised trip such as this entails.

I am still extremely busy, there are numerous issues at work (I am a one man band) and feel like a boat in an open ocean without a rudder. However, the steering is gradually being restored.

Some of the ideas I have had and abandoned as it was too difficult to get enough interested people to join me (so frustrating) include:

  • Packraft the Spatsizi river in British Columbia. The book Northern British Columbia Canoe trips by Laurel Archer discusses many trips, this one is a good one as you ride a bike to the Spatsizi, packraft with it down the river joining the Stikine to complete a nice loop. Ben Brochu has a video in Vimeo and many other trips in Youtube. His blurb :
    Three friends set off on a 400km bikepacking and packraft expedition through the heart of the sacred headwaters in northwestern British Columbia, birthplace of three critical salmon rivers, and home to the Tahltan people. In the wake of the devastating Mount Polley Mine disaster, the team’s goal is to understand what is at stake as a wave of new mines are developed across this remote corner of the province. Their journey offers an exciting and sobering window into this wild landscape as they pedal through vast boreal forest, paddle frigid whitewater, battle monster trout, outrun a grizzly, learn about the Tahltan’s fight to protect their homeland and glimpse inside a massive open pit mine.
  • Packraft the Tatshenshini river in the Yukon
    This would be sensational by the look of it. A wild river running through the glaciated valleys of Canada’s north and Alaska. I left it a bit late for this one as you have to go in a ballot with parks Canada. I was offered one opening early July but there is still the logistics and getting enough interested parties together.
  • Packraft the Bonnet Plume / Peel river area or other rivers in the Yukon. This area is right up my alley and may be less prone to logs than in BC. These guys: https://adelorenzo.exposure.co/ and http://yukonfrolics.blogspot.com/ have superb inspirational blogs.

I then tinkered with some bike-rafting options

  • Trans Canada and Great trail from Mount Robson to Cranbrook, flying to Vancouver.
    I realise that my bike fitness is not up to scratch on this one. Work, Tanzania and illness has really dented my fitness levels. There are some seriously hilly areas to deal with, let alone being alone with those wild animals Canada is famous for. I also realise that it is difficult logistically to pack the bike for the flight back to Vancouver. Some great details on the mountain biking (I’ll have to come back with a posse of friends !) here.
  • Bike to Banff then travel down the Bow river to Calgary
    This is still an option.
  • Head to Calgary then fly to Idaho for another packrafting meet at Hot Springs Campground for the 2019 packraft roundup, but with a twist: bike-rafting the snake river and riding to Hot Springs. Here is a map of what I was thinking. Another area of major interest is the Salmon river.

As a matter of note packrafting meetups are quite an upcoming thing. I’m finding more as I wander the web. Here are some sites of interest: 2019 Packrafting Meet-ups and Destinations, http://packrafting.org/forums/  and https://packraft.org/. Note to self:October 5 – 7: Australian Packrafting Meetup, held around the Canberra and Murrumbidgee River region.

So many ideas !

What have I settled on so far prior to the Mount Robson rendezvous:

  1. Two days to land and get my act together in Vancouver. Jetlag is a thing coming from Australia.
  2. Fly up to Whitehorse to meet up with some travelling friends and then do the Chilkoot trail.  Many moons ago I visited Skagway with my wife for a honeymoon trip cruising the Inside Passage. We caught the heritage train to the finish point of this trail and the history regaled kind of stuck in the memory banks. Great to have the opportunity to step in the the trail of the Klondike gold rush pioneers.
  3. Head to Edmonton taking the time to see the bison on the Elk Island national park apparently up there with number of animals of the likes of the Serengeti in Tanzania. I’d be thrilled to see a even a small margin. Wikipedia writes a good article on the area.

The later part of the trip – and there is still 20 days to go is up in the air.  I’m starting to think that the bike is too much of a burden, car hire might have to happen.   I’m also wending towards doing a commercial trip on the Tatshenshini river: I found a company that does it based in Whitehorse and there is a trip running from the 3rd of July, straight after the rendezvous – it is going to cost, but how often will I get this opportunity ?

We will see how things pan out !

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