Paddle: Kananaskis River

Quick Summary

Summary: A short but exciting (for me) 45 minute paddle taken after work down a section of the kananaskis river.
Date: Friday April 11, 2003
Distance of trip: 1 or 2
Set in point:Just below 'Widow Maker'
take out point:Just above the white water course.
River Grade: II (?)
River Flow: slightly high at 32 CMS (Average is around 28 CMS)
Paddleiing partners: January, Clint, and Russ
Level of experince of group: Russ - experinced WW He's on his thrid boat
January - 3 years WW, but describes herself as timid.
Clint - His Third time out.
Level of experince of the trip author: First River trip in a kayak, a Sea kayak. Been down grade 1 rivers in canoe several times.
rapids, bridges, etc): A list with a distance from set in
Widow Maker, 2, Just before set in (see pic)
Santa Clause, grade ?,
Camp sites used: N/A
Weather Conditions: 16 Degrees, partally cloudy
Trip rating, and some justification of the rating: I liked it, I think Russ was a little board with it. Good points / Bad points: For my Sea kayk the rocks were a bit painful
Boat style used: Sea Kayak, every body else in WW kayaks

Ramble on about the hike

I tried to get some guys at work go go kayaking with me on the Bow river. The only taker what January, The plan was to head out on Tuesday. However we ended up not going... I was calling her "Jammin Jan" for a few days at work. However she came through on Thursday, she got me in for kayaking on Friday after work.

Russ also works at the same place as Jan and I, He and a friend of his setup the trip. I was offered the opportunity to tag along. Talking about the course before hand they were considering if I should set in above or below someting called "The Widow Maker". I was starting to get nervous, I wondered If I might be driving up and end up watching. However, I did end up in the River, Widow maker looked pretty impressive to me. You can see from the set in picture that I prudently choose to set in below. The pictures were taken while Jan and I were waiting for Russ and Clint to go through. Waiting at the 
start point.

It took a while... Russ' kayak floated a way on him, and I think Clint was working up his nerve to make the run, it was his first time through. However it was Clint that went first, I was turned away from the chute when Clint came through, January was running with the throw rope. By the time I got turned around Clint was upside down, and trying to roll back up. He made three attempts, before bailing out of his kayak, and swiming for shore. Well it was the first time he'd made the attempt on this rapid, so we have to give him credit for that.

With all the excitement of getting Clint 'rescued' (I was in my kayak, and did not want to need rescuing too, so I just watched.) I did not see Russ start through, what I did see was a kayak come though... where was Russ. Some how Russ ended up upsidown through the chute too. But he snaped up the roll, and away he went, down the river.

Russ and Clint were out of sight down the Bend in the river. I waited for Jan to get the throw bag stuffed together. Jan left and lead the way, I was going to follow behind. There was a hole down stream on the left side of the river, we wanted to make sure I followed her and made it past. Now it was my turn... I was not going through anyting like the widow maker, but I was very nervous. This was my first time on moving water, in my new kayak, okay in any kayak. The current and waves were pretty imposing. I tensed up so much in the first wave train, I was swearing and laughing in excitement, when I eddied out where Russ and Clint were waiting, my leg was cramped up. The wave train that got me so nervous: about 5 waves in it, each maybe 45cm in height. Not much... but enough for me. I made it though.

From here down Russ lead the way, I followed with Clint behind me and January coming in the sweep position. Things went well enough, I was missing the rocks, and Russ was taking us down. A few times we eddied out of the main current, regrouped, chated abit and kept on going.

At one of the eddies, Jan was expressing some consern about Santa Claws. Another hole or rapid down stream. Russ pointed to some frothing water about 100m away, saying basically, "miss that". Russ set off, I followed... very exciting stuff. lots of bouncing, with wave comeing from all directions. But we made it through

Russ had turned around upstream to watch me come down, shouting encouragement and guidance. After I was through, the turned around and started paddling hard.... I was not sure why until I got to the same spot. There was a band of rocks comming out from shore just under the surface I was ended up back paddleing. and hit them at a slow speed. Russ was shouting to paddle, but I kinda froze, and began to twist sideways pivioting just in front of me, where the bow was stuck aground. These rocks looked alot like the 'bridges' every kid tries to build on a shore. So I has a band of rocks going out, and a bit of a standing wave going over them. I fell into the wave exactly parallel to it. I took a big breath of air, as I thought I was going to roll. But the kayak made if over the curl of the back wave, and I was then pointing up river. Just then Clint came through, and brushed the side of my kayak as he went on down. A couple of quick back paddle strokes and I was free.

On thing about having a sea kayak on the river is that it does not turn very fast at all. A white water kayaker can crank his boat about 90 degrees with a single sweep stroke. for me it is more like 10 degrees. So it takes a bit to go from pointing up stream to down steam (no eddie line in this case). Even with eddie lines, a quick safe haven for a ww kayak, is easily missed in a sea kayak. Several time I had to paddle back up to the eddie to join the group. So in this case turning around took a bit of time, and I'm floating down broad side to the current, as I was trying to crank it around... a bit scary, but I did not hit any rocks.

after re-grouping Jan takes the lead, Russ felt like he let me down leading me onto the rocks like that. Following Jan down to the take out point we had one bit of real excitement. I following her, but got distracted by some waves and concentrated on makeing it through them. No longer was I in a state of pure addrellin as I punched through them, but still nervous. I got my shot of addrennlin when I looked up though. A big wall of rock, extending out into the river a bit, with my current lines flowing strait into it. Some furious paddling and I was out into the deeper channel and missed the wall by about 3 ft. There was Jan in the eddie behind the wall. I cut in as best I could and parked the kayak. We were at the take out.

It turns out Clint was beind me, he too was paying attention to the waves, and got a shock when he looked up. Although his WW kayak is more manuverable than mine, it is slower. He did not make it out to the 'safe' current lines. He braced for impact against the rocks. Here he made a bit of a mistake, the wanted to have the kayak take the blow, rather than himself. This sounds resonable, but in doing so the leaned away from the wall, the water grabed the upper edge of his kayak and flipped him over. Russ saw the whole thing, and was very conserned. It looked like Clint was Pinned under by the current. Russ was very releived when Clint popped out a few seconds later. Clint made it close to our eddie, still holding his kayak in one hand. Jan threw the rope and hauled him to safty.

Russ chased after the paddle, which had entered the training course build on the river. He retrived it, but landed on the far shore. Jan and he used the rope to bring the paddle accross to our side of the river. Russ took his kayak further up stream and kayaked down to our position. By that time I had the camera out, and took a picture of him coming down to the take out area. I took a second picture from up on top of the rock wall, back up the river. You can see what kind of stream we had just come down.

All in all for me it was a fantastic ride. We chatted at the take out, all three of them told me that they thought for sure I'd have trouble with my kayak, and inexperince, they thought for sure I'd endup going swimming a few times. Lucky for me I did not.


This run on the river has been upgraded with a few man made features, my buddy Russ provides the following pictures. I think there are more than just the one feature shown. Click for a larger image.

new chute new chute new chute parallel to the take out looking back from take out, 
just above the WW race course
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Copyright Myrl Tanton 2003-2005

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