Most of our followers will know that our biggest exercises take place in Alberta, Canada on the wide Prairie and this year we have provided B (XIV) Sqn to act as the Tank Coy in the OPFOR BG. What many of you may not know is that between exercises exercising troops can take advantage of some AT at Trails End Camp.
Trails End Camp is situated in the Rockies to the west of Canada and provides any exercising, temporary and permanent BATUS troops the chance to try their hand at something apart from warcraft. In the summer the options for the week are horse trekking with cowboys and girls, rock climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, canoeing or alpine mountaineering.
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.
The second day bought with it some more training, this time further upstream in the Bow River where the water runs fast through a man made rapid course before a natural fast flow. We practiced team rescue on land which includes throwing lines to save any people in the water. We then clambered into the boats and practiced the mysterious skill of a ferry angle before heading downstream for about 10km.
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.
The second day provided a bit of a soaking for every boat except one as everyone was challenged to navigate some seriously technical rapid sections of the river. Most started to get used to narrow margin for error which can mean complete disaster in the huge waves or being spun around by the infamous eddy monsters. We camped again that night and the rain clouds began to clear fully leaving just a covering to block the sun.
Not only did the participants of the canoe trip gain welcomed knowledge on wilderness camping and travel to a truly special place, they also all achieved their O2F which in conjunction with a kayak foundation will allow them to begin climbing the canoe instructor levels if they wish to do so in the future.
KRH Association and serving members of the regiment.