After having taken the basic paddler course with the Beaver Canoe club, I was keen to get out to test some of my new skills, so we decided to join some of our friends on the River of Golden Dreams in Whistler. This turned out to be both a lovely and expensive day. We still don't own a canoe, so we usually rent one. Most of the time we rent close to were we put in as it is more convenient, but often also a little more expensive than renting from MEC for example. We decided on the same strategy for this trip.
Our first issue with the rental place was that they insisted that we would only fit 2 adults and 2 kids in the canoe. We had brought our roommate, Miriam, so that was kind of an issue. We decided to send Christian over to our friends one beach over, while Miriam and I rented the canoe. We later picked him up on our way across Alta Lake, and sure the canoe was crowded, but it is so convenient to have an extra adult managing the kids in the middle. We also suspected that the rental place did not like us paddling the canoe down the river, as they had tried to sell us a self-guided trip down the river for the steep price of $89 per person. We decided not to tell them our plan, and they never mentioned any "stay on the lake" rules so we figured we were good.
Once on the lake with everyone in the canoe I enjoyed practicing my new skills and actually keeping the canoe going straight across the lake. I did feel a sense of urgency thinking about the fact that we were being charged per hour. However, on the river I quickly forgot about the impending bill as I enjoyed the slow flowing river. After a short portage the river joined with another river from the left (coming from Mt. Rainbow I assume). I was happy that we had just switched spots, so that I was in the bow, while Christian moved to the stern, as the river was now moving faster. We had to concentrate on the paddle due to the now faster pace and the many bends in the river. The risk of capsizing was small, but the risk of crashing into the bushes along the sides were high. We knew that this would not be popular with the kids, so we tried to avoid that. We only had a few close calls. We checked out the railway bridge on foot first as the water was rather high, but we had no problem going under as we were so low in the water.
We had a quick picnic in an eddy, but otherwise completed the river with little stopping. After about 3 hours we arrived at the Meadow Park Rec centre. N had of course fallen asleep just moments earlier. Miriam took F to the splash park, while Christian watched the canoe and sleeping N, and I biked back to Alta Lake to pick up the car. While loading the canoe onto the car back at the rec center, we noticed the rental company picking up a bunch of canoes. They didn't mention anything about us paddling the river, so we figured we were fine. However, back at the rental place we got a stern talking to about taking the canoe down the river. Something about safety and insurance. We promised that we would not do it another time, and got away with the steep price of a half day rental: $165 after tax.
Even though the river of Golden Dreams is a highly recommended paddle, it is even more recommended to bring a canoe from Vancouver where rental is about $35 a day. Lesson learned!
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