With a big Ooomph we pushed the raft off the rocky riverside bed and into the water. This far north, in the Canadian Rockies of Alberta, the snow was just beginning to melt and every drop of frigid water that touched our skin came directly from the glaciers farther North.
This was the first time I’d ever been in water so cold, despite my many seasons of being a raft guide back on the east coast of the United States. And after becoming reluctantly acquainted with these waters, I knew that this trip was going to be entirely different from that of rafting on the warm river of the Kali Gandaki in Nepal.
The only difference between here and there? 6,600 miles, freezing temperatures, rain and layers of quick-dry clothing in an attempt to keep me warm.
But putting my fears behind & fighting off a wicked hangover from a long night of partying in Banff, our crew of 6 adrenaline junkies and 1 fearless leader bombarded on one hell of an adventure on a trip that I would soon not forget!
Whitewater rafting in Canada
I don’t know if it was the constant bobbing up & down, the initial shock of freezing water touching my chest or my body’s reaction to paddling but there was no way that I could keep my food down. As soon as we put in on the river, we dropped into our first rapid and began to paddle which came up with a not-so-good result.
In one fluent motion, I managed to upchuck the previous nights’ drinks, dinner as well as the small bit of breakfast I somehow managed to scarf down. Well…at least the fish enjoyed this portion of the trip as I chummed up the waters. Sure, it wasn’t ideal, but I’m glad it got out of the way quickly…damn that hangover.
Luckily, the rest of the trip was truly ecstatic.
The river, in all its glory, was one magical drop after another. With a grand afternoon filled with rapids and a small handful of breaks in between of (somewhat) flat water, this was the kind of adventure both my friends and I thoroughly enjoyed. The total opposite of any route I had taken while trekking off the beaten path in Laos.
The river this time of year was running high…really high. With all the fresh glacier melt off coming from the ice fields farther North, there was no short supply of whitewater sloshing over the top of rocks which bullishly rearranged the riverbed to however it seemed fit. This ultimately lead to an unpredictable trip that our guides had ran only a handful of times this season.
But, even with this ever-changing riverbed, how were our guides and how did they react? Phenomenally.
I couldn’t have imagined a better trip especially with the weather changing on a dime the way it had. When we first put in, the sun was shining and we were amidst a gloriously beautiful day. But, just when we were rounding the last bend of our first trip down the river (that’s right, they took us out twice!), the clouds deluged us with a heavy downpour effectively drenching the small bits of our bodies that weren’t already wet.
In the end, the Gods smiled down at us with the last bit of sunshine so we could warm up, leaving the Kicking Horse River warm, satisfied and filled with smiles. As my one adventure through the Canadian Rockies (my first visit, in fact), I couldn’t have chosen a better highlight than rafting with a stellar crew down the Kicking Horse!
Have you ever went white water rafting in the glacier melt off water of Cananda?