It was my birthday weekend. A dinner at the Rimrock was a great way to start it off. I got a backpacking filter as a present. I was stoked to get out there to use it. That night I was in for a treat. I got a wake up call when my roommates bounded into my room, and told me I had to get up and go outside. 'You won't believe it!' They said. I grumbled awake and went outside. I gazed up in wonder. The sky was alight with green dancing lights. The northern lights! I started to bounce up and down. How spectacular. I wish I could capture the sky. Instead, I just stared upward and absorbed the scene above. What a treat!
We had gotten our kayaks and canoe from Canmore earlier that day. The trip was not without an adventure. We took Tara's red truck. Everything fit in the back of her truck no problem. The bugaboo came when we were headed back. We thought we had secured the canoe sufficiently. Apparently not since it began to fall off the passenger side. We stop on the side of the road and retie it. After that it still moved off to the side so one of us reached out the passenger seat and caught it. He held it all the way back to our apartment on Kluane. What a crazy ride.
Next step was getting it to the Bow River put in just north of Lake Louise. Somehow we made it there with less incident. After our sending photo, Pascal was so excited he got in before any of the rest of us had a chance. He went to do an eskimo roll. He didn't make it over. His parents totally freaked out and started running after him down the river. Eventually, he pulled the skirt and got back to shore. He had dislocated his shoulder. His Dad popped it back into place. We all breathed a sigh of relief. Well that was unexpected. I avoided the kayaks entirely and got in the canoe. We piled the rest of the gear into the middle of it. Not having any dry bags, we used the paupers route: plastic garbage bags.
In we went. The glacial water churned around us. Paddles in hand, we used them to steer us down the river. Not much power was needed to propel us downstream. Things went swimmingly until we came to a freeway overpass. It went over the river, narrowing the gap where the river flowed through, and limiting the space available for the volume of water. Uh-oh. There were huge standing waves in front of us. We started into them not having any other options. The water started to fill up the canoe. "Bail, bail, bail" turned into "Abandon ship!" I headed for shore with one of the garbage-bagged packs.
I watched my other mates come out of the river with everything else. I counted 5 people and 3 packs and one canoe. How everything got on shore, I hadn't a clue. We took stock of what was left. One of us lost the bottoms of his zip off pants. I saw some apples bobbing down the river, so those were gone. Simon's full nalgene, with his expensive watch, is now somewhere on the bottom of the river. All of us in the canoe were soaked, from our shoulders down, in the freezing glacial water direct from Lake Louise. What a mess. I was grateful that all of us were in one piece and we had managed to get 99% of our gear onto shore. We could easily have watched one of our packs go down the river, and the canoe could have been drowned under glacial water. I shook off along with everyone else.
The river looked super calm downstream. "If only we had put in here," I thought. We found out later that we were supposed to put in after the Lake Louise rapids. Oops. So much for having that knowledge now. I convinced the others that it was safe to pack things into our vessels and continue on. This is what happens when you don’t do enough research. As we approached the end of the day, one of us spotted a camp spot with a small beach. We pulled off, dragging the kayaks and canoe high up on shore to the grass above the beach. All our various gear was dumped out. We fished our tents out of the pile and up they went. Thermarests, sleeping pads, and all of our leftover dry clothes went into the tents or onto our bodies. A line was hoisted for all else that was still damp. I started dinner for everyone. After we ate, we headed to bed. It had been an exhausting day.
I awoke in the middle of the night. Lying in the tent, I looked up. The northern lights were still out. I watched them dance like ribbons across the sky. I marveled at the magnificence of it. How does nature produce these magical phenomena? I have the same feeling when I look at the sunset everyday. It always puts me in mind of that children's story about Grandpa Bunny, and warms my heart.
The next morning we took stock of our gear. The clothes were still damp, but better than the day before. We rolled everything up, stuffed it in the packs, and wrapped it all in plastic. By this point, Pascal had to take the middle seat of the canoe because his shoulder was hurting him too much to do any kind of paddling. Sam shimmied into the green kayak. Every so often he held onto the canoe because he was so tired of balancing with his paddles. The other kayak was being portaged down the trail by the side of the river, its occupant having had enough of the flat water.
Finally, finally we got back to Banff. We pulled everything out of the river and called Tara. She picked us up and we returned our rental gear to Canmore. Thankfully, they didn't notice the small dent in the front of the canoe where it had its altercation with the riverbed. We drove back to Banff and got a medium rare steak at the Keg. Post consumption, we decided to go see the Bourne Supremacy. The funniest thing on the trip happened next. I took a swig of water, out of the nalgene I smuggled in, and next to me my buddy asked for some. I passed it over. I felt it connect, and let go. I heard a muffled gasp, and looked over. Apparently, I had let go too soon. Oops. There was water all over him. This was, of course, after having been wet for 2 whole days and finally getting into dry clothes. This all happened during the opening credits so he had to sit there like that for the entire movie. Oops.