White Water Rafting

Day 15
Saturday July 30th

White Water Rafting

Packed up the car and left the campground in plenty of time for the rafting. Car keys were left behind the desk as we couldn't take anything with us in the raft. We then had to hang around as a family that had only booked that morning turned up over 10 minutes late. About a dozen of us set off in another old school yellow bus at high speed up a backroad towing a trailer with 2 large rafts on it. The guides and one of their friends cadging a lift with his canoe all seem to be adreneline freaks.

Down a steep track, which I wouldn't have wanted to take a trailer along, to a small area at the bottom where we climbed out. One guide led us up a goat track to show us a catagory 6 falls whilst the others unloaded the rafts. Everyone then selected wet suits, helmets and life jackets and stripped down to our swimwear and sandels whilst being shown how to put everything on. The guides checked the life jackets individually, tightening them, then tightening them again so you almost couldn't breathe. Then we were all forced to dunk ourselves completely in the river so we wouldn't worry about getting wet on the raft. Me, with my aquaphobia, I was petrified but it was too late to show it or back out.

The guide carefully explained how to row, what orders would be given and what to do if you fell out. Basically you had to lie on your back and float (read get washed violently) headfirst downstream until you could get to a bank. Did I mention that we had all signed disclaimers absolving the company of all responsibility regardless of how many they killed or how carelessly they did it. I was glad we had helmets on until they mentioned that hes were not to protect against rocks but the more common occurance of being sideways swiped by another oar.

We then split into two rafts, all the experienced people in one raft and six complete novices in the other. The experienced crew got the raft with the large rear seat and rudder for the guide to make it easier to control. Our guide just had a paddle - somehow I didn't think this was a fair division, still Jude fancied our guide more so she was fine.

Once in the raft we'd all take our timing from the person at the front left; this turned out to be a swiss lass who didn't speak English so couldn't understand the shouted instructions. A rope ran around the outside of the boat a third of the way down which we were supposed to grab and hold on to at appropriate moments whilst leaning into the boat.

The first few rapids at category 4 turned out to be the biggest we'd come across all morning. We thrust forwards, turned, backpeddled and hung on for grim life at all the appropriate moments, until the guide forgot to shout "hang on" and David who was having trouble reaching the rope outside the boat anyway was bounced violently up and into the middle of the raft. The guide said "Sorry" as he climbed back up. David's problem was that being the shortest he was always the last to grab the rope which meant that everybody else had already pulled it tight causing it to go further away from him.

We floated, bounced, soared and skimmed along for an hour until the rafts pulled up to a cove and we were led up a steep forest sheep trail to a waterfall. The waterfall was 40-50 feet high diving right into a plunge pool. The guide then showed us how to climb behind the waterfall and jump into it. David being a water babe was first to go and we all dutifully followed even me. Evertything went fine until my turn, having had to steel myself for the jump (it was only a few feet but there was no indication of depth) when I surfaced and struggled my way to the shore I put my foot down with a cry of pain. My sandel was somewhere in the pool. Unable to walk with one foot over sharp rocks, sticks and stones and having determined that the sandle should have floated the guide scouted around to look for it. No luck but we did find an flip flop abandoned by some other unlucky person. I then had to climb back down the path with two left pieces of footwear, one 3 sizes too small, not a pleasent journey.

Discarding the flp flop back at the boat we rode the waves for another half an hour to a landing point near Clearwater. On a calmer stretch of water Jude and David hopped out of the raft hanging on only to the rope and drifted down the river. We all had to help lugging the raft back on to the trailer before drying ourselves and changing into our clothes which were still on the bus.

Back at the station there was a proper changing area and Jude and the boys had a hot chocolate.


Heading south we came across the main dual carriageway to Vancouver which would have taken hours off our journey but we'd planned a stop in Pemberton fot the night. Fortunately as it turned out since a forest fire had completely closed the main road.

Stopped for gas, an ice cream and lunch at a no name place, most of the towns seem to be a row of concrete single story block structures on both sides of the highway, most unpleasant. After flattening out from the Rockies the landscape began to get hilly again and hotter. At one point we passed miles of land that had been burnt out a previous year, all the trees were dead but the land was green -eerie.

Driving an air-conditioned car we failed to realise how hot it had become until seeing a picturesqe view I pulled over and opened the door to get out. The heatwave then struck, a few minutes outside was all that was manageable.

This land soon became mountainous, far more so than the Rockies as the road was narrower, windier and the drops off the side of the road deeper. Crasj barriers are for wimps. The road snaked up one mountain only to dive down the other side before climbing its way up to the top of the next. For dozens of miles we seemed to be doing nothing except going around hairpins up or down. Fortunately traffic was light.

On the way we passed through a reservation and Lilooet both remarkable only for their ugliness.

As the sun was edging towards the mountain tops we came across a lake and log dam. Needing a stretch we scrambled (apart from Jude) around on the logs for 20 minutes before having to head over another pass.

Burnt hills starting to regrow

Temperature approaching 40 deg in Lilooet valley


Coming down into Pemberton valley was the steepest road so far with frequent escape tracks for runaway vehicles. These escape tracks weren't just a continuation of the raod in gravel, these had specially built hills a hundred feet high to help slow the runaways.

There was another reservation in the valley with real totem poles in peoples' back gardens. By the time we reached Pemberton itself it was nearly dark.

Jude & I had a room with a view of the mountains with a 6 foot bed and balcony whilst the boys had a side room. There was a hum from teh power lines behind teh house though. The very pleasant landland directed us to an eaterie which we decided to walk to. We took the scenic but shorter route option, at least it probably would have been shorter if we'd known where we were going. We wandered through a park, across rough ground and then a housing estate, unfortunately Jude only had thin sandles on which made walking difficult.

The establishment served half price starters after 9pm and the waitress kindly pointed out a cheaper way to construct the meal we wished to order. We walked back along the road.

Home Comforts B&B


©2005 Rob Hayward