A day on the river beats a day in the office – any time of the week, month, or year. So early this month, when Debbie, (owner of Apex Raft Company), called to ask if I wanted to jump in a raft, it was a no brainer. I had been a raft guide in a previous lifetime, on rivers further to the west, which is maybe why it took me so long to take a trip with Apex. In the back of my subconscious, I had this ridiculous thought that “you’ve seen one river, you’ve seem ‘em all.”
But…this trip down the Illecillewaet couldn’t have proved me more wrong.
I met my partner in crime at 9:15am to sign away our lives on the waivers provided. In less than 5 minutes we were joining the big group of rafters, getting suited up for our day of adventure.
We had a fun crew; a local bachelor party that brought the element of stoke, 4 young eastern boys who had just graduated from university and were trying to find a way to move out here (aren’t they all?), and three of us gals who all work in the industry, wanting to get a firsthand taste of the experience we all speak so highly of. We met our guides who explained the deal with gear and wetsuits, then it was a mad rush to the cubbies for the dreaded wetsuit dance.
I hate the wetsuit dance, and wetsuits in general for that matter. Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry too much because no one looks good in a wetsuit. No one! We’re all at the same disadvantage. But with glacial fed water as the main transportation tool, I’m thanking my wetsuit as we speak. Long sleeved fleece, splash tops, neoprene socks, and “experienced rafting footwear” was also available for us – along with helmets, life jackets, and most importantly, a guide.
Once everyone suited up, we hopped in the Apex school bus for a 25 minute scenic drive along the Trans Canada Highway to the put in near Albert Canyon. Quick safety briefings, some paddle stroke practice, and we were on our way. The group of rowdy dudes were in one boat with the seemingly rowdier guide.
We were in a somewhat calmer boat and our guide fit in well with a quiet confidence that had us listening to his every command. The trip started with a class 3+ hard hitting rapid, and continued on for about 20 kilometres down the river, having the perfect combination of float and white water. Float so you could just about warm up again, and fifteen sets of white water rapids for that rush of adrenaline. The mountains towering around us were pretty easy on the eyes and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.
The last rapid of the day, Peanut Butter and Jam, was a doozey! Just as we were starting to feel our stomachs rumble (perhaps partly due to that final rapid name), the Greely Bridge appeared and the school bus was waiting on shore with sweet treats and watermelon for us hungry rafters to scarf down.
We completed a perfectly executed landing to complement a flawless day. Our guide gave the kudos to our paddling, but I’m sure he was just being modest (which is pretty rare for a raft guide, or so I hear!)
Side note: How do you know when a raft guide is in the bar? Don’t worry, they will tell you.
All jokes aside, it was a fantastic day! The water level was perfect for juicing up some of the smaller rapids but taming some of the big holes that you couldn’t usually hit. Although this was my first trip down the Illecillewaet, it definitely won’t be my last!
Trips are now running 7 days a week until Labour Day so go get wet!
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