Trip Coordinator: Mike Eaton
This year the NWV endeavoured to put together some weekend river trips where car camping could be done. This trip was the first of a few on the calendar for 2019. On this trip were canoeists Donna& Lisa, Don & Gene and Matthew& Alex, as well as kayakers Paul, Rob, Mike, Karyn, Stephanie, Harold, Denise and Arleen.
The group arrived throughout Friday afternoon and evening at the Starland Recreation Area located where Highway 27 crosses the Red Deer River. The campground was centrally located being 23km downstream of the put-in and 30km upstream of the take-out. Not much was known about the site but on arrival, we found a large, well maintained campground. The sites were nicely spaced with a few trees and we were able to camp well away from a large party having a combined stag/stagette. Actually, they were very well behaved and we didn’t notice them at all.
Saturday morning we left a couple shuttle cars at the campground and drove to the put-in at Tolman Bridge. We launched from the east bank under the sound of gun-fire (there is a private shooting range n then west bank)and mixed skies but a good water flow and began our journey. The terrain is mostly ranchland but we could see that we were approaching the spectacular Badlands. The rain threatened and we stopped to put on our rain gear
only to be tricked by Mother Nature as the sun started to peek through the clouds. After no time at all, we arrived back at Starland Recreation Area. We shuttled the cars back from Tolman then some people had a snack, some put their feet up and some (Rob, Stephanie, and Mike) were gluttons for punishment and paddled back upstream for about an hour to return triumphantly again.
Saturday night, the thunderstorms started moving through and several people huddled under the tarps and ate supper while we talked about life in general and more importantly upcoming trips we were excited about.
Sunday morning was a brand new day figuratively and literally. The rain had moved on and the forecast was for the high 20s. Those of us that were heading home Sunday packed up camp while a few who decided to stay an extra day watched us with glee. We shuttled the cars down to Drumheller then came back to Starland and launched. We moved deeper into the badlands with mud hills towering above us.
At the first break, we came across a stream outflow where high water flows from the stream had formed balls of clay around rocks and sticks. One of us likened them to cannonballs while one trip coordinator whom shall remain nameless commented on how big the dung beetles must be in the valley.
Continuing on, we paddled past the Bleriot ferry, one of the few remaining cable ferries in Alberta.
We planned to stop for lunch at a riverside campground but it wasn’t apparent so we pulled up on the bank and found some shade from the relentless but welcome sun.
After lunch, we paddled as the valley grew deeper. We took our final break at some sort of camp with a tent frame structure
that all of us wondered what the purpose was while Alex amazed us with his fossil and petrified wood finding skills.
With Drumheller (and cool drinks) in reach we set out on the last leg. We landed at Newcastle beach on the western side of Drumheller and began to load up. Ice cream was suggested and after we loaded up, some of us tried to find the Dairy Queen (not as easy as you might think). Our perservance paid off and we rewarded ourselves on another successful trip. Thanks to all who participated in making it a very enjoyable weekend.