Maligne River (Canyon)
|Stretch:||Below the 4th Bridge to the 5th Bridge|
|Difficulty:||Class IV (IV+ to V-)|
|Flows:||No gauge. ~400 to 1,000 cfs|
|Gradient:||235 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Trail access up from the 4th Bridge|
|Shuttle:||Walk 0.65 miles, 20 minutes one way|
|Season:||Spring and Summer from snowmelt|
|Featured in A Wet State #142|
Jobless Summer 2019 Roadtrip - Day 33a:
Waking up, the plan was to hike up the Maligne River for the section from below the 4th bridge to the 5th bridge (the canyon), and then make a game time decision on the next section depending on if we felt like continueing as that would require us to hike back to get the car rather than taking out at the car. The hike up the canyon was supposed to take 45-60 minutes so we weren't sure we would have any desire for more walking afterwards. As it turns out, the hike took us only 25 minutes with scouting as it is surprisingly short.
Getting to the top, we were quickly surrounded by crowds of people inquiring if we would be running it, we of course had the one guy who seemed very concerned for our lives and who really didn't like my answer to his question about how dangerous it was being “it's all relative.” After a few minutes of scouting the top rapid, I ran it followed by Diane. Downstream there is another boulder garden followed by a ledge, both of which you can see from the trail. Then, you quickly get to the best series which is a double drop followed by a sloping ramp, both of which were fantastic rapids. These two are not visible from the trail, but a small trail leads down to them and it is worth looking so you can confidently paddle into them once on the river. Below, things mellow immediately out and you quickly find yourself at take-out. It is short. But it is worth it. The scenery is nice, and the rapids are fun. We started hiking around 8 am which meant we were ahead of the crowds. I bet at mid day the trail is much more crowded and the “scene” at the top rapid much more paparazzi-esqe.
We decided since we hadn't even been gone from the car for one hour, including the hike, to continue on. The section below is considered its own run on the local guide site so… see the next write up for that.
Previous: Jobless Summer 2019 Roadtrip - Day 32: Canoe (Lower)
Next: Jobless Summer 2019 Roadtrip - Day 33b: Maligne (5th to 6th Bridge)
- Sickle (IV+ to V-). Paddling Maps gives this a V, I just can't go all the way with it. It wasn't that bad of a rapid if you were online. The thing I was most nervous about was the crowds The line was to start right and jam left through the top so that you are left of the main hole below. Note, that just below is another smaller hole that still packs a punch. I hit it with left angle and anticipated it and came through with a brace, Diane didn't and flipped and was racked down the right wall. The rapid is quickly over and enters a small canyon.
Boulder Garden (III to IV-). 100 yards downstream is a small boulder garden. There is a cool spring coming in on the left dropping a good bit of water in half way down. We entered left and worked center. It was straight forward enough and had an eddy at the lip on the left in case you didn't scout from the trail on the way up. Below it mellows out for a bit.
- Ledge (III+ to IV). I bet at higher flows this rapid can get quite a hydraulic. But at our flow it was mellow. You could boof far left which was easiest or do a harder shoulder boof right of center and flirt with a bigger hole. Just below, another small spring enters on the right.
- Two Timer (IV). This rapid was so fun, I almost walked back up for a second helping. You enter a canyon section with a shear wall on the left, stay off this wall throughout. The entrance is boogie and leads to two stacked holes. The best line is left of center for the top one and then right for the second one. That takes some boat control as they are one after the other. It lands in a small pool that moves quickly into the next rapid.
Turbobooster (III). The last rapid of the run is a nice tongue down the left of center and into some weird seams and currents. I actually began to squire my Nirvana. It is straight forward though.
Boogie (II). Downstream is class II boogie.
Take-out: From the town of Jasper, head north on AB-16 for about 4 kms. Cross the river onto Malingne Lake Rd and follow this for 3.1 km, turning left towards the Maligne Canyon Trailhead. Follow this for 800 m to the trailhead. This is the 5th bridge (counting down from the top, but that is also the naming scheme on google)
Put-in: Time to hike, cross the bridge and turn right. Stay right at the fork and follow the river up. It climbs a little right off the get go and then is pretty even. Once you get to Sickle, climb over the fence and put-in. There is no reason to go higher as the river goes underground.
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