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A BRAT WW canoe trip.

Day One August 22, 2008

canoes on vanNow that's class. put-inLake Travers put-in. To save on the $90.00 per vehicle shuttle rate, we simply tied three solo canoes to the van and headed out from Ottawa to the Portage Store on Achray Road. There, we rented a fourth canoe, a tandem, and got more than a few shocked looks when we tied the fourth to the same van. Four canoes, 5 guys, 5 barrels and all associated gear like paddles, pfds, etc all in that one van.
We made it to the Lake Travers put-in by 1:30 and were on the water by 2:00. After a quick lunch, we spent the afternoon flat-water canoeing the rest of Lake Travers to Big Thompson rapids.

Bob eddyingBob playing in the Big Thompson rapids. big thompson rapidsThe start of Big Thompson Rapids. We finally arrived at the Big Thompson rapids around 4:30. After a full scout, we were off. The old logging dam is pretty well history so it was a straight forward rip down river right fairly close to shore.
Little Thompson was a quickie but very interesting. It was down river left trying to squeeze between the rock wall and a large rock. Quite the pile-up of water in which to make a right-angle turn to get through.
Around 6:30 we stopped at the island campsite for the night.

Day Two - August 23, 2008

last chance eddyCrooked Chute - The eddy at last chance takeout - not enough room for four canoes. last chance takeoutCrooked Chute - The last chance take-out. We broke camp and were back on the water by shortly after 8:00 a.m.
Time for Grillade Rapids and then Crooked Chute.
Don't be fooled by Grillade Rapids serene looking beginnings or that easy class II. Things quickly turn into a very fast ride towards Crooked Chute. Grillade turns into Crooked Chute rapids at about the first of three take-outs. So from then on it was hug river right really close to shore.

oveturned canoeAlmost there - but yet so far away. overturned canoeThis may take a bit of hard thinking! We pulled into a safe spot just before the last take-out as Bob had noticed that most of its eddy was gone because of high water. This last take-out is aply named 'Last Chance' as the current becomes too strong to turn back. Eric, who was last in, glanced off a rock he wasn't expecting and dumped. Thankfully, he was close to the bank and got to shore safely, but about $4,000 worth of upsidedown canoe, camping and camera gear headed straight for and then straight through Crooked Chute

Surprisingly, the canoe survived the chute unscathed but hung up below amongst the rocks. It took the better part of 2 hours to get it dislodged. A big thanks to Bob who, as usual, took the lead with the rescue.

rollaway rapidsRollaway rapids. Worse than it looks. rollawayThe bottom of Rollaway Rapids. After all the excitement of the Chute, Rollaway was approached with some trepidation or at least great care. Rollaway was such a super-fast super-long boulder strewn pinball arcade, that we elected to portage the upper half until after the ledge. We put in at the memorial for Blair Fraser who died on Rollaway in 1968. It's a very small put-in but the rest of rollaway was a straight forward ride down river right to calm water.

upper natch rapidsUpper Natch rapids. lower natch rapids Lower Natch rapids. The two Natch Rapids are really just two ledges. The Upper had a ledge going all the way across the river and required a quick lift-over on river left. The main ledge on the Lower Natch only went three-quarters across the river, extending from river right, so we ran it on river left. The idea was to kiss the edge of the primary ledge, then try hard to get close to river center. That way one avoided being slamed into the rock face or its accompanying second ledge. It is also a good idea to avoid that third small ledge which none of us did.

Eric and Bob came pretty close to avoiding that last little ledge but I only managed to straighten up in time to hit it head-on. Nothing major, only a 2.5 foot nose-dive into a 5 foot standing wave. I ended up with my Raven half-full of water but remained upright. Jan and Neil in the Starburst tried the same manoever and got their canoe filled to the gunnels. Great fun to watch.

natch rapid cliffsThe cliffs after Natch Rapids. Neil and JanNeil and Jan in the Starburst Tandem. Unfortunately, I didn't get the opportunity to take any pictures of Schooner, McMann or even the top of Five Mile Rapids as we ran them without scouting. But, between the three of them, they are the best rapids I've ever been on. Lots of 2 - 2.5 footers coming at you from all sides, lots of maneuvering with time to maneuver, and lots of time to pick your route. Just pure fun. Schooner is over 2k long, followed by McMann at 1.4k. The top of Five Mile can bite back so stay alert. After that it's about 3k of straight forward stuff.

above mcmann rapidsAbove McMann Rapids. mcmanus lake McManus Lake.

We camped about half-way down Five Mile Rapid and spent the next morning with a leisurely 4 hour paddle to the take-out.