Rafting on the Lardeau River.
River Rafting: A Kootenay Sport (Nearly) Everyone Will Enjoy
Whitewater rapids. Sound like fun to you? In the hands of experienced guides Oly and Tamara Hopwood, and accompanied by a homemade, organic lunch...How does that sound? Serenaded by an Osprey? Witnessed by a snorkelling grizzly? Piqued your interest? Your appetite? Oly and Tamara Hopwood's Lardeau River Adventures has taken almost the full 57 kilometre length of the Lardeau River and broken it into two different trips. Lardeau River Adventures offer two kinds of river rafting adventures: One, the Upper River Rapid Spectacular, is a full day, 32 kilometre trip down the top section of the Lardeau river. For people who want to feel their heart beating, fast, but for novices and experienced rafters alike, this trip has a steeper gradient, a higher concentration of Class 2+ rapids, and, according to Oly, "many glacial tributaries." If that sounds a bit intense, Oly assures me that "there are also a number of calm stretches and many stunning mountain vistas and is well within the abilities of a wide range of people." However, if that does sound a bit much, the lower section of the river offers a slightly more mellow adventure. This section is named the "Scenic Family Adventure" and is 25 kilometres river rafting a slightly reduced gradient, offering a more relaxed trip which includes "secluded pebble beaches, waterfalls and gorgeous mountain views." You still get many rapids up to Class 2 (so you don't have to worry about not enough rapids...) but the trip allows for time to swim and play and enjoy a leisurely lunch along with the same thrill and adventure of descending a wilderness river. Perfect for if you're travelling with younger children or if you are a bit on the cautious side. And whichever adventure you choose, both allow guests lots of time to relax and enjoy the scenery as well as a gourmet organic (much of the lunch comes from Oly and Tamara's own garden) picnic lunch. Because this lunch is handmade and made with whole foods, they are able to accommodate allergies and sensitivities...just ask when you book your trip.
Let Oly and Tamara Share Their Passion for River Rafting with You
Enjoying a river rafting trip goes much deeper than simply wanting to experience the thrill of rapids. The Lardeau River valley is home to the world famous Gerrard Trout spawning – the largest rainbow trout in the world! These incredible, 20+ pound fish are a feature of this area that people travel here just to experience. The spawning of the Gerrard Trout and the Kokanee salmon create a scenario that, as Oly says, "you can’t help but feel privileged to witness it. Both of these spawning runs bring in a great deal of wildlife. This can range from swooping bald eagles and diving osprey to snorkeling grizzly bears. Every season brings a different compliment of Rocky Mountain wildlife to the Lardeau." Both Oly and Tamara come to the Lardeau from many years of guiding around the world. They "fell in love with the Lardeau" because of the combination of its accessibility mixed with its being "a wild and free-flowing river with an active wildlife corridor" being able to marry their two passions of adventure and conservation in these trips ensures that they can honestly say: "We love what we do!"
Oly and Tamara take their environmental stewardship and impact very seriously. They deliberately limit the size of their trips and are committed to providing you with an intimate and personalized adventure. It's such an important part of booking a trip in this area, realizing that you are not only with experienced guides who you are able to trust with the knowledge and wisdom it takes to make sure you're going to have the adventure of a lifetime, but also that they take caring for this area seriously. Before a trip begins, you're given a safety briefing, taught what you need to know about paddling and the commands used, and then you head out onto the water to practice paddle strokes and commands. By the time you head off down stream, "first-timers and veterans alike are singing from the same song sheet!"
Sound Good So Far?
River Rafting in the hands of experienced, knowledgable guides can be the experience of a lifetime. Oly and Tamara make sure that before you step in that boat, you have a very good idea of what you are getting yourself into, so that, in over 25 years of guiding, not once has an adventurer backed out mid-trip. On the contrary, reactions cover the spectrum for huge grins to huge hugs and exclamations that lives have been changed. For Oly, a "great big grin after a big splash that you get from a young rafter holding on at the bow is always great." But often there's a "deep sense of accomplishment from people who conquered something they had always wanted to try but were quite nervous about." The rapids experienced on the Lardeau are Class 2...this means that they are ideal for first time rafters - no previous experience is necessary. You'll be required to paddle, but only in short bursts and you'll have frequent rests. And though people often think that higher grades are more exciting (Class 6 would be Niagara Falls, for example) Class 2+ rapids are "exciting, engaging and require some truly satisfying teamwork while still maintaining a lower safety risk." This is their secret to making sure that the trips are exciting and always an adventure, but also safe and enjoyable for everyone who participates.
Getting Ready for Your River Rafting Adventure
Oly and Tamara insist that this is a trip that can be enjoyed by almost everyone. There is a lot of upper body exercise involved, and you'll definitely notice you've been working in your core and back, hips and legs, as they mention quite often, rafting is a team effort and the exercise comes in short, doable bursts, accompanied by stretches of rest and enjoyment of the incredible scenery. To get ready for an adventure like this one, you could try paddling on Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP) or even brisk walking, especially on uneven trails, to help you get used to uneven terrain. Another great exercise is cycling. You increase your stamina while going easy on your joints. Really, getting out and moving is a great place to start - and a great way to get ready for an epic adventure like river rafting.
Why the Lardeau?
River rafting at this level is often only possible on multi-day trips. Many commercial trips run beside a railway or large highway. The Lardeau combines accessibility with the access to "it’s wild and rugged location and it remains one of the most prolific fish and wildlife corridors in southern BC." Roughly halfway between Calgary and Vancouver, the river is easily accessible from Nelson, Nakusp and Kaslo while still being a rare and pristine area for wildlife and forest.
Take Advantage of Early Bird Season
Right now Lardeau River Adventures is in its Early Bird Season providing significant discounts to guests booking an adventure for May and June and for advance booking for July through September. They have been enjoying beautiful water conditions and some excellent spring wildlife opportunities. Please check us out on facebook too. There are plenty of great places to stay in the Kaslo area from hotels, motels to campgrounds on the lake. ***
This blog is a repost from our sister blog, 108 Healthy Things to Do