Trip coordinator: Paul Bird

Saturday dawned a hot and sunny day.  The group met around 9 am at the 50th street boat launch in Edmonton, and unloaded boats and equipment.

We were:

Canoes: Don and Gene, Eric and Marie, Isobel and Gary, Doug and Leslie with the smallest Northwest Voyageur, Abby the puppy.

Kayaks: Cathy, Karyn, Diane and Paul.

Some cars were driven to the take out at the Fort Saskatchewan Boat Launch.  A big thank you to Marian Brudnicki, who offered to do shuttling for us.  We met him there, and he and Cathy shuttled drivers back to the put in.  After a quick “comfort break” at the Capilano Park bathrooms, we launched on calm water in bright sunshine.  We commented on the large number of canoes, compared to many kayak-heavy trips of late.

This stretch of the North Saskatchewan is fairly straight forward at normal river levels, although there are many sand/gravel bars that need to be watched for.  On this day the river was running between 280 and 240 cm/s, which is a good paddling range.  The wind was light and was never a factor.

Passing under the Yellowhead bridges, we saw a train stopped on the railway bridge up ahead.  As we passed by, the driver greeted us with a friendly toot from his horn.  We stopped for lunch on river left at a shallow rocky shoreline, with a long comfy log to sit on.  There was no respite from the sun, however, Leslie remarked that somehow being by the water helped us not feel quite so hot.  Abby was happy to get out of her doggie PFD for a while to visit with everyone.  It should be noted that there aren’t too many accessible shady beaches for a large group of paddlers to land on, over this stretch.

Along the way, we saw young bald eagles on river right, nesting high up in the trees.  Isobel, Gary and Cathy noticed what looked like a small branch in the water ahead of their boats, then realized it was a small swimming snake with white and black stripes which was resolutely making its way across the river.  When it encountered the steep yellow wall of Isobel and Gary’s canoe, it reared its head up, staring at this unexpected obstacle.  A fascinating interlude.  We also saw what we thought might be an osprey nest close to the end of the paddle, on river right.  We also saw the usual duckies on the water, but alas no rubber duckies (take note, Thomas and Karyn).

A couple of paddlers decided they would cool off by going for a brief swim by dropping a Coke in the water, then reaching to retrieve it.  Fortunately the river at this spot was shallow enough that the boat could be walked to shore, and after a brief bailing, we were on our way again.

About half way to Ft. Saskatchewan we passed the spot where we had stopped for lunch last year, with a wider beach (and some shallow water at the approach on the left, which should be avoided by paddling to the right before turning into the beach, as one of us found out last year with a quick swim!) Everyone was fine to keep paddling so we carried on past this spot, and were happy to make the right turn and head past the island teeming with birds that leads to Fort Saskatchewan.

We arrived at the take out, the Boat Launch, sweaty and hot after the 4 hour paddle (28 km), but having enjoyed the sunny day and calm water.  Another pleasant and enjoyable club trip.


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