By David F. Rooney
It wasn’t quite what I had in mind for a hot Friday afternoon: a planned hike on Mount Mackenzie had fallen through and I was resigning myself to several hours in front of the computer to work on The Revelstoke Current, when my partner, Sue Leach, asked me if I’d like to go on an Apex Rafting trip with her and City Councillor Antoinette Halberstadt.
“It’s her 60th birthday,” Sue said. “This is a big adventure for her.”
I must have looked a little skeptical as Sue said: “Come on! It’ll be fun!”
I should explain here that while I like the water, rivers make me nervous. I almost drowned in the Shawinigan River when I was about four. My brother lost his life in one in northern Minnesota and a friend of mine from university drowned while rafting on the Fraser back in the mid-1970s. But if I enjoy anything in life it’s the opportunity to experience something different. Besides, it was Antoinette’s 60th and what’s a birthday adventure without the company of a couple of friends?
And what a nice adventure it turned out to be!
There were 10 of us all together and except for one teenager we were all middle-aged and in tip-top shape (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating that part), and only a few of us had ever been in a raft before. Once we had somehow managed to slither into our wet suits, which made us look like extras in a bad made-for-TV sci-fi flick, we set off in a bright yellow bus for our launch point near Albert Canyon.
Our guide with Apex Rafting, Dan Caldwell, was funny and nonetheless skillful and professional. He led eight of us in one raft while fellow guide Cory Biesel took another couple on a separate craft. Caldwell had a dark and quirky sense of humour that kept his intrepid rafters chuckling as the raft was swept along by the current beneath a hot sun. It wasn’t swept willy-nilly. Caldwell guided it from a tiller in the rear and we, the aging, wanna-be voyageurs provided the muscle power to the paddles we were given, forward- and back-stroking on command. Fortunately he wasn’t a 21st Century Capt. Bligh; nor was he an incompetent boob like Jonas Grumby, the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island.
As rafting expeditions go this was pretty safe. Apex owner Ralph Koerber said there the company has never experienced a serious injury, let alone a death, and Caldwell and Biesel took care throughout the trip to explain everything to their charges. The 19 or so rapids that tossed us about as we made our way downstream were enervating but hardly the kind of Class 6 monsters movie-goers saw in The River Wild. Still, we were all tossed about, repeatedly soaked with invigorating cold water and had a great time.
This adventure was interesting, even informative. and we didn’t have to hike anywhere or expend serious amounts of energy. In my books that’s something you can’t often say is true of anything remotely resembling an outdoor adventure.
So, was it worth it? I can’t speak for Antoinette but I did note the big grin that creased her face from beginning to end. I suppose it could have been a rictus of terror but then her laughter, chuckles and whoops as we rollercoastered through the rapids were hardly maniacal.
Sue, I know, had a great time and… me? I’d do it again in a heart beat.
For more information about Apex rafting please go to the company’s website at www.apexrafting.com. You can also contact Owner Ralph Koerber and his staff by phone at 250-837-6376 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
While you’re trying to decide if a river rafting trip is your kind of adventure, here are a few photos taken on our aquatic sojourn.