This year, between Ex PRAIRIE STORMS, a number of KRH soldiers disappeared deep into British Columbia to tackle the Kootenay River. After arriving in Trails End in the rain and receiving all the kit required to keep anyone from freezing in the glacial waters, a few of the participants were wondering what they had signed up for.
The next day the team met their two instructors; Brian Unruh and Justin Farquhar. As they discussed the fundamentals of canoeing it quickly became apparent that SSgt Young's vision of calmly paddling in the sunshine on a flat lake with or without a beer and fishing rod was crumbling away. We moved down to a calm stretch of the Bow River to begin our training. The sun had come out and as we were taught each stroke we would need the pairs began to work together in their boats and after a few 360 turns and close capsizes everyone started to get used to the concept of a canoe and how it moves in the water.
At the end of the afternoon came the dreaded "self rescue" lesson and we moved into a deeper moving part of the dam controlled river. Each boat had to paddle over and against all that is natural tip themselves into the river before performing the correct procedure for getting themselves to shore.
Our third day signalled the first of our Expedition and we packed our tents, clothing, spare paddles, fresh water and the kitchen sink into barrels that we then strapped into our boats. After a few hours driving we crossed the state line into BC and soon we were at our put in site. We paddled around three hours with only one or two capsizes to our first stunning wild campsite.
With a fire lit everyone enjoyed steak and sausages cooked over the hot coals, thus ignoring the silver bags we had packed that morning. The weather was immensely changeable and the huge mountains surrounding us would swirl the cloud and the rain would break before bright burning sunshine.
Our final day began with a bang through a huge sweeping turn of rapids, but everyone got through with no capsizing. The rest of the rapids that morning were not quite as successful as some boats tried to take them on head on as it was their last hussar. At the final rapids- Squaddie Surprise- B Sqn Tiffy drove himself headlong and was swimming as the water spat him out the other side. Smiles all round as we paddled the last five km in the flat calm before taking out and meeting our vans.