Paddle: North Sask River, Devon to Edmonto

Quick Summary

Summary: Easy river paddle, nice day trip
Distance of trip: est 30 km
put in: Just in Devon, to the East of the bridge over the North Saskachewan river. "Devon River Valley Lions Campground."
Take out : Kinsmen Field house. This was a less than Ideal take out. (I'd use Whitemud park next time, a 29km trip) Time Taken: 4hrs (I was pushing the pace)
Paddleiing partners: Solo trip
River Grade: I - Easy, (with bridge pillars)
Rapids : none
Weather Conditions: Mostly sunny, temp: High teens
Trip rating: Good, If you want a easy float trip
Boat style used: Sea kayak
 map: Devon to Edmonton

"Map is Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, Department of Natural Resources. All rights reserved."
map from the website

About the Paddle

Some personal buisness took me to Edmonton for the weekend. After which, I'd hope to meet with Robert Purden, and go for a paddle. To that ends I took my kayak with me on this trip.

The tentative plan was to meet Saturday Afternoon. However, neither of us end up getting out on the river that day. After a bit of a mope, I decide I'll try and getup early and get out Sunday before driving back to Calgary. I'm not 100% sure, so I don't call Rob. However I make plans to meet Mom (who lives in Devon) for some breakfast.

7:00 AM sunday morning, a minor miracle happens, as I drag my butt out of bed, and get going. I meet mom around 8:00, we end up with some other company, and by the time chit chatting is done, and I've eat'n breakfast, I'm not at the set in until 10:00. I'm not sure how long the paddle is, I seem to recall 4 hours. I've told the wife I'd be back around noon. Hmmm, a I borrow mom's cell, and call the wife to set the pickup time back to 2:00.

There are several canoests, and kayakers getting ready to push off at the set in site, just next to the hwy. One with a nice looking cedar strip Endevour. This group takes off just as I"m lugging my kayak, and gear down. There are still a few canoes around, We chatt a bit. I ask one of the paddlers how long the trip is. She tells me that they did it last year, starting at a simillar time, and did not get in until 8:00. Yikes!!

I give a hasty good bye and set off. No leasurly paddle today. The river takes a bend right away, there are a couple canoes up just going around the first bend. It becomes a bit of a race, as I try to reel them in. I do it, but it is not fast. In fact they paddle through a 3rd group of canoes, just as I catch up. It took me about 10 minutes, to make up the 300m head start they had on me. If the estimate of 10hrs to do this paddle in a canoe is correct then, I'm going to be very late.

The exertion, feels pretty good. I'm not going super hard, but enough to work up a sweat. Earlier this morning it was cool, now I have to take off my nylon jacket. There is a large group of canoes ahead, I've another 'race' goal now, and set off in persuit. It is the Endevour, and his buddies. So I've now made up the 15 or so minutes it took me to get in the water.

The trees are dressed in the colours of fall. Other than the evergreens that is, which are much to resiliant to bother dropping leaves for someting like winter. Theres a mix of Green, the Yellows of the populars, and the reads of the srubs. Very nice, wish I had more time, I wish I'd have remebered my camera, as I paddle on. I soon pass the 4th group of paddlers out, I'm not even into the second bend in the river yet. Busy so far today.

The next few hours is more of the same. Only two more groups of paddlers out. Lots of sceanery.

About 3 hours later I come to the construction of the (I assume) Anthony Henday road extension. Just as I pass the 6th group of canoests.

Not long later, it is very clear that I'm near or in Edmonton, people are out walking dogs, the odd fisher man. Up on the dirt cliffs are houses, I stop and ask a lady where I am. I've made it to twilligar park, Quinell bridge is about a km ahead, around the next bend.

Edmonton has recently had a problem with the river banks, a few homes have caved in, and several have been condemed. Ironic, these are very expensive houses, but not fit to live in anymore. It is very obvious from my position in the river the extent of the risk. Huge cave ins, and mudslides down to the river. This from the 30-40 meter high dirt banks. With houses, some with porches extending out into the air on stilts. With the river eating the bank out below.

Theres a bonified "Drunken forest" now, where the sides of the cliffs have slipped down, and the trees which were once nice and strait, are now growing at different angles due to the slippage under them.

Just around the bend is not the Bridge, but there is a wooden boat at anchor out on the river. My first thought is that it looks like a viking replica. However, I eventually remember reading that there is a York boat that is being build in Edmonton. Well it's done, it's parked on the river just out side the fort Edmonton park. I cut in behind and come up around the boat. I need to suppress the temptation to try and climb in.

I use Mom's cell and call in, saying I figure I'd be another 45 minutes or so. As I talk on the phone and drift down from the boat, Quinell bridge comes into view.

I see another group of kayaker around the Bridge. I wonder if I can catch them... I'm pretty tired now. A bit later I realize they are paddleing up stream. Catching them is not a problem. They apear to be a family out for a aftern noon paddle on a beautiful day. Seeing them makes me think of Rob, it would have been nice to have his company. I know he would help me keep the pace up, as he is one of thouse "in shape" people. As it is, I'm not doing to bad, it is about 1:45.

I come to white mud creek, and decide to ferry over to it, and paddle up it a bit. I miss the channel and run a ground infront of several people out enjoying the sun on the river bank. Opps. After pushing through the shallow, and into the channel I start heading up. The creek is shallow, and the rocks in it are not the smooth water warn rocks. they are the jagged rocks, recently broken. I abort the side trip and head out.

I come to a walk bridge over the river. I don't recognise it at all. I'm starting to wonder if my estimate for the 45minutes is going to be way off. it is now 2:00. As I approach the bridge, another solo kayaker is coming upstream he is just at the pylons. As I get near, he hails me with a "Is that a woodend kayak?", to which I respond "Hi Rob". Rob has a very distinctive Kayak, I knew it was him as soon as I noticed it.

We raft up and drift down stream chatting. Rob has his camera, he is out taking some fall pictures. I take a few of him, then he of me. After a few minutes of drifting, and chatting. Rob comments that we've just drifted down through the fastest part of the river. Now he has to slog his way back up. for me it's getting late, and so we part company.

As I continue on, now refreshed. My arms were getting quite tired, one even cramping up a bit just before running into Rob. Lots of people on the shore. Edmonton sure has a pretty river valley. I think better than Calgary. It takes me a while to put my finger on why I'm thinking that. I realize it is because the river is wider, and you get a better view, but maybe it is just the time of year.

Rob had menitioned, he's seen at least 4 wood boats on the river including a canoe and kayak. Sure enough they come into view. I'm now about 500m from the High level bridge. They 1/2 the distance. I wonder if I can catch them before the take out which in not much further past the bridge. I make it even with them, just as I reach my take out spot.

A nice paddle today, but far to rushed. An extra 2 hours would have been nice. However there is no question I'll be bringing my kayak (or canoe) up again. Even for an hour of just paddeling around in the city. The river is slow enough, that unlike Calagry, you can paddle against the current, and actually make real progress.

It's now 2:30, and I'm only 1/2 an hour late (from my second ETA estimate that is). Time to load the canoe and head back to Calgary, on the stretch of Hwy that was voted North Americas Most boring. The Paddeling trip was definatly the highlight of this day. [an error occurred while processing this directive]

Copyright Myrl Tanton 2004

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