Many months ago I booked three seats on the Kicking Horse River “Exciter” tour. It takes inflatable boats 12k down the river through rapids ranging from a ho hum Class II to an altogether more sprightly Class IV. More importantly, we would be on one. It’s starts at 2pm sharp and would take a bit over two hours to get there. So time then for a lazy morning. Or not in fact, as the small print on the booking form said they were just over the border in Alberta, where the time is an hour ahead of BC… So in fact we had to move out in good time and sprint to Golden for a quick lunch first. There was a bookshop which had an upstairs cafe and a local lunch joint where everything was ready to go. P and T were being magnetically drawn to the bookshop with a literary glint in their eyes, but as we only had 40 minutes I dragged them into the lunch place for some nondescript food first – along with a glimpse of the Olympics on a screen on the wall. It’s been going on all this time and we haven’t seen any of it.
Having bolted their food, P and T ran to the bookshop. It was lovely; floor to ceiling books and a winding staircase to a sweet little cafe with plenty of tables. OK yes, we should have had lunch there. All too soon though I was rounding them up again and we were off to the rafting place.
As we got there the heavens opened, turning the river from a silky, sunlit, milky blue ribbon to an angry grey torrent. Oh dear.
There were several boatloads of us – eight to a boat and a guide in each boat. They were a fun bunch from all over the place – teasing each other and us as they briefed us on what to do and what not to do. Then we all got kitted up – wetsuits and booties, fleeces and waterproofs – and went back up the highway to get in the river. By which time the sun was out again.
On the riverbank there was another briefing about what to do when dragged under the boat and how to avoid logjams and crocodiles and lots of other stuff which I’m sure they have to tell you and it all adds to the sense of adventure, but of the seven thousand people they took last year only 54 people fell in by mistake…
In fact, once on the river it was all good fun with very little risk to life or limb.
There were a couple of bigger rapids and we all got to jump out for a dunk in the five degree water. The guides kept up a constant rapport and really made the day for us.
Matt, our guide, turned the inflatable upstream and we paddled like mad to “surf” the river. We got out to solemnly inspect the Class IV section, and all got very wet going down it.
On the last bouncy bit, Tom’s legs suddenly shot up in the air and he was precariously balanced on the edge of the inflatable as we shot down the river. Philippa had to reel him back in and the two of them lay in a tangled heap in the bottom of the boat unable to move for laughing. Tom was completely thrilled. This is what that looked like from the shore…
|Approaching the rapids…
Back at base there was hot chocolate and cookies for everyone and photos for sale of all of us taken from the bank. They were a great bunch and we were all smiling as we drove on into the Yoho National Park.
So the thing about Yoho is that it won’t take bookings for campsites and with our afternoon’s liquid jollity it was now after six… We drove to Kicking Horse campsite which is the biggest hereabouts. Predictably, it was full. The ranger said to try the next campsite down, Monarch. It was full. But we discovered that they let people stay in the parking lot as an overflow once the final campsite (20 minutes back down the road) is full. So we parked and made supper and waited, and eventually they did just that…