Kicking Horse River (Middle / Bridge)
|Stretch:||Rest Area to Bridge|
|Difficulty:||Class IV+ to V|
|Flows:||30 to 150 cumecs (I believe Bridge rapid doesn’t get run too often over 100 cumecs). Check out the water office's gauge.|
|Gradient:||123 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Highway Rest Area|
|Take-out:||Highway Bridge access (not recommended due to legality issues)|
|Shuttle:||2.4 km (2 minutes one way)|
|Season:||Summer off of snowmelt|
|Featured in A Wet State #142|
Jobless Summer 2019 Roadtrip - Day 27b:
After the previous section, our new friend whose first day of whitewater it was, stopped at the rest area that marks the take-out for the upper rafting run and the put in for this section. This section is a much more serious endeavor as continuous big rapids with occasional big holes must be negotiated and swims are life threatening for sure. With that said, this section was fantastic for folks who like big water class IV to V.
The run starts with a brief mellow warm up before the river before picking up to splashy and fast whitewater. As the canyon wall on the left grows to the road maybe 100 yards above you, you enter the meat of the run. We ran generally left of center before catching an eddy on the right just as the railroad track comes into view. This is an important eddy as it is where you stop to scout or portage the Bridge Rapid from. The next 100 yards is class V- whitewater which leads to a large hole that you want to be far left on, this hole is the Bridge Rapid proper and is class V. The next corner should be taken right of center to avoid a big pourover on the left and big hole on the far right. Then, this section ends. Yup, it is short. But it is good. And although the downstream section is easier, it is also super fun so you have that to look forward to.
We had ~3,000 cfs (85 cumecs) which is about as high as Bridge Rapid gets run, though the rest of the run is fine with more water I assume. I also know it gets mellower with less water. I thought this flow was fun, but also would have been nerve racking without Isaac and Allen who knew generally what was going on and where to eddy out
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- Starts off completely flat but with current. This only last a little bit.
- Steps Up (IV+). As a concrete wall is above you on the left, and the gorge tightens on you at river level, you are approaching the hard section of the river. We started left of center, but not left as the river has some holes on the edges. Then we got back to the middle to drive right into the eddy to scout the Bridge rapid from.
- Eddy Out. This is the eddy mentioned in the rapid above. From here, use the train tracks (note this is illegal and you risk fine) to scout the lead in and Bridge drop proper.
Lead In (V-). The Lead in to the Bridge Rapid is big, our group went right and cut back left half way down to boof a good size hole. From there, it mellows out a little before the crux move.
- Bridge Rapid (V). Scout for sure using the eddy described above. The normal line is to drive far left into and onto of the curler coming off the left shore. This gets you around the large midstream hole. Note, there are still holes to negotiate downstream but they are not as bad as the top one. I also saw a video of Anniol running far right through the top though it looked like a lot less of a good line.
Exit Rapid (IV to IV+). Immediately downstream, those that portage will launch in and you enter this rapid. It has a blind corner that you want to run right of center moving right to avoid a huge pour over on the left, this then straightens out and lines you up nicely to thread between a few large and obvious holes. Downstream the action keeps going and begins the Lower section of the river.
Take-out: From Golden, take highway 1 East for 15.9 km. Just before the bridge over the river you can park and walk down to the river. Note, you have to cross the railroad lines which is technically illegal so you do risk fine. Since the powers that be made that rule, most put in on the Middle and paddle down both. Maybe in the future this will change again. The rafting companies certainly are working to make it legal to access here as it has shut down their ability to commercially raft this run.
Put-in: Continue up the road for 2.4 km to the rest area along the highway. This is the put in access.
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