Rafting the Kicking Horse River

Here I am, thinking I know what whitewater rafting is all about. I thought I knew what to expect before my first time going down the infamous Kicking Horse River in the beautiful province of British Columbia, but I was wrong. I’m so glad I was wrong.

My first whitewater experience ever occurred on the Fraser River in Mount Robson Provincial Park. It was thrilling and exciting and seemed like the most exciting thing I’d done in terms of water sports. Yesterday, I ventured onto the Kicking Horse (aptly named I might add) with Wild Water Adventures, a rafting company located just 20 minutes east of Golden and 2 km west of the Yoho National Park boundary. It was what I would now consider a “true” whitewater experience.

Our river guide, Andrew gave us one of the best safety talks I’ve ever heard; it was engaging and funny but you could tell he was serious about our well-being on the river. I could see the more tense first-timers slowly warming up to the idea of going down the river. Everyone was excited and nervous as we piled into our boat and set off onto a gentle section of the river. Andrew went over the different paddling maneuvers and what to do when he gave us instructions; we also had time to practice before hitting our first rapid. The river was at a great level and we were told some of the rapids were at a class 4.5 which I didn’t quite register in my mind until we actually reached them.

Some great rapids including “Cable Car Rapid” “Hopi Hole” and “The Equalizer” were first on the itinerary and I found myself thinking, if those weren’t the biggest rapids we’ve yet to see, what is yet to come?! A few gentler sections and we pulled over at a rest stop to examine the next set of rapids we were about to smash. Walking up a small cliff overlooking the river we saw “Portage” “Shotgun” and a number of other insanely huge rapids. I gulped. So this is what a true 4.5 looks like. Andrew said we had the option of walking around this section or going for it; we all opted for the rapids. Scary as it looked, we had complete trust in our guide and were well armed with the knowledge of what to do should something happen and we found ourselves part of the driftwood party.

We started down the river; those of us who were paddling, paddled hard while those who were just hanging on clutched on for their lives. Eventually we were all sitting and holding on to the safety rope as Andrew skillfully maneuvered us around the craziest waves. We smashed through about 2 km of constant rapids alternating paddling with just holding on. We were laughing our heads off and choking on water the whole way down, it was so exhilarating and fun, I didn’t want it to end. Altogether we hit 14 different rapids in 12 km. It was a great mixture of intense rapids and gentle sections; I even learned a little about the river and surrounding area.

There really is no better way to spend your Saturday morning. If you have to get up early you may as well go rafting down the Kicking Horse River. It’s sure to wake you up!Whitewater-Exciter

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