Kicking Horse River (Upper Rafting Run)
|Stretch:||Above the Highway Rest Area|
|Difficulty:||Class III (IV)|
|Flows:||40 to 200 cumecs. Check out the water office's gauge.|
|Gradient:||45 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Dirt road access|
|Take-out:||Highway Rest Area|
|Season:||Spring and Summer off of snowmelt, wide range of boatable flows|
Jobless Summer 2019 Roadtrip - Day 27a:
The previous night I had sent GPS coordinates to my friend for take out, to confirm its location. I never got a response back, so in the morning we set out to leave towards that location assuming it was right. Thankfully, just as we got on the highway we got a message that we were to meet in Golden, not the take-out I had identified. The mix up is that paddling maps has an upper canyon run which is up near Lake Louise, but this run wasn’t on the site at the time and is called the Upper run for rafters… because it is above the middle run. So, thankfully we 1) camped down in Golden and didn’t lose service the prior night, and 2) tried one last time to verify take-out in the morning before losing service!
The plan was for Allen to meet us from Calgary and Mikel and Terral to come from Revelstoke. Allen brought a friend of his who does some slalom but would be doing whitewater for the first time. While at take-out we also ran into a friend of Allen’s, Isaac Tracey, who ended up joining us as well.
There was some discussion overall about this run, was it easier than the Lower or the same. I felt it was significantly easier. Isaac and others felt it was the same. For me, this run had one significant section, rapids called “Portage” and “Shotgun” but other than that it was pretty chill. Action certainly picked up near the highway bridge, but still, it was wide open with plenty of lines. In total, I think that the run was class III to III+ with the one section of IV- to IV.
I agree with Allen in his assertion that this run is worth adding to the others. The other runs downstream certainly don’t take long to boat, so this was a nice way to make the day longer as well as see another new section of river. The only downside is the railroad that runs along the river for its length, which takes away from the pleasant scenery otherwise. Also a note, the road is never far away, but getting up to the road could be difficult at times. In the downstream sections, it could be impossible at times. So just be aware.
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- Ledge Right (III). The first class III rapid comes and is a nice section of boogie that most will want to finish left as the right 200 feet against the wall is a powerful ledge.
- Portage (III+ to IV). It isn’t a portage, but it is called that. There is a sign on the left shore notifying you to scout or portage via the trail on the left. There are plenty of lines. We started right of center for the initial ledge and then worked left and read and ran around some holes there. I think for rafting this rapid is harder, but for us in kayaks I thought it was pretty chill.
Shotgun (III). As the river bends left immediately below, with minimal rest, there is another rapid. We ran down generally right of center.
Boogie continues downstream.
- Old road (III). As the road gets close to the river again, you will turn left into a narrow straight away with the remnants of the old road high above you on the left. This is a straight forward section but does have powerful eddy lines and waves.
- Highway Bridge (III). As the Highway 1 bridge is overhead you enter a nice section of waves and hole dodging. It was all read and run in an open setting.
Take-out: From Golden, take Highway 1 east for 11.5 km. About 1 km upstream of the bridge over the river, turn left into the rest area. This is the access.
Put-in: Get back on Highway 1 and continue east for 9.1 km. Turn right and drop down a dirt road and follow it to the river. We stayed right on the several forks on the dirt road.
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