Peace River Trip

CanadaAlbertaPeace/Slave, Buffalo and Hay
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Scott Hyde
Trip Date : 
July 29-August 2
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
281 km
Duration: 
5 days
Loop Trip: 
No
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
0
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
0 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Novice
Lake Travel: 
Not applicable
Portaging: 
Not applicable
Remoteness: 
Intermediate
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Low
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Public access at Taylor boat launch.  Close to bridge but nice spot to put in.  Lots of room.  Could also put in at Old Fort but need to cross a gate and carry gear a few hundred kilometres.

Technical Guide: 

Very hard to get lost.  All routes lead the same way.  Only recommendation would be to look for landmarks (campsites or bridges) along the way.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Day 1   80km.

 

July 29th.  Woke up at 6.  Packed up the truck, got coffees and picked up Cat (our shuttle) and got on the water at Taylor boat launch by 8:30am.  We were making pretty good time and got to Blackfoot Regional Park by 1:45pm.  Once we got there we floated, chilled and had a beer.  It probably slowed us down but it was worth it. They are calling for thunder and lightning tomorrow so we knew we’d have to put in a big day today.  Our unrealistic goal was a campsite more than 80km from FSJ called, “Many Islands Campground.”  We didn’t get there, but got close.  We shut ‘er down around 8:15pm.  That’s almost 12 hours of paddling!  Instead of cooking our steaks we had leftover pizza.  Better option for a late day.  We saw lots of wildlife including almost 15 deer, 2 bears, bald eagles, a toad and a water snake.  Feels good to sit by the fire.  Oh ya! Only unsafe fires are banned for most of Alberta along the southern edge of the Peace.

 

Day 2   50km

 

Slow start.  Our site looked so beautiful when we crawled out of our tent though.  We heard some animal in the morning.  We weren’t sure what it was.  Yogurt, berries and granola.  I forgot the granola.  Becky to the rescue with granola bars we crushed up.  We got on the water at about 11am.  We paddled steady for most of the day, reaching “Many Island Campground” later than we expected.  When we had lunch before that we both jumped in.  We even saw a shortcut we could take that might shave off a few minutes – so we took it!  Becky saw smoke coming from the forest.  We investigated and approached.  It was as if someone just had a huge fire in the most random and inconvenient spot.  We tried to put it out and got the GPS coordinates so we could call it in later.  It would have taken hours to fully douse it.  It was just smouldering.  Just before our campsite we saw another one!  No time for GPS as it was getting late and we weren’t sure if we were going to get a storm or not.  We decided on a large island to camp.  More exposed but the place we checked out before sucked quite a bit and when we walked to length of the island we could not see anything suitable further.  So, we decided to hunker down.  Felt like there were more chores than yesterday somehow.  We had steak for dinner and it hit the spot.  I brought in a bit of Montreal steak spice.  After chores we see the rain clouds approach and feel the wind come in.  The whole reason we chose this spot was because it was late and it looked like no rain was coming.  Our tent poles started making an ‘S’ shape.  As we got inside our tent we held the walls up with our feet and sand was flying in from under the tarp getting in our hair and wine.  It was intense.  After a couple hours we hear a hollow “Bang! Thud! Crash!”  I look outside and I see a bunch of our stuff that I stashed under the canoe.  But no canoe!  It rolled about 20ft.  I dragged it back and then it flew away again!  I tied it to the wannigan.  The storm kinda died down around midnight to something reasonable.  There is so much sand in the tent.  It’s crazy.

 

Day 3   48km

 

We both woke up around 8:30. “I should get up,” I said.  “You gotta keep your eyes open then,” said Becky.  Cut to 11:30 when we hear the rain stop.  We know we had some wiggle room for time so we decided not to paddle through the pouring rain.  It took us almost an hour to get everything packed up and the canoe ready.  Once we got on the water it started raining again.  It was almost as if it waited for us.  Bless you, Mother Nature.  In total, we saw 3 bears (I won the 1st animal guessing contest!) and 5 deer, plus 2 bald eagles.  We felt like we were making great time the entire time.  We got on the water by 1:50pm and our goal was at least Pratt’s Landing.  We overshot it.  Didn’t even see it and decided to push to Dunvegan Provincial Park.  We had to stop for about an hour because of thunder and lightning. We climbed a hill and sat under a birch tree and made coffee while listening to Dark Side of the Moon.  What a great album.  The view was equally as stunning.  We sat over a pile of bear scat.  Knowing that no one would have likely seen the river from that exact spot gave us a sense of comfort.  We paddled hard after that to make it to camp before dark.  We ran into two human groups.  Our first since starting the trip.  We had a good chat with the first one.  They confirmed the park and how to get there.  First time we’ve had to unload the canoe and carry it a long distance.  Not the worst thing in the world.  Nabbed a site that we will hopefully pay for in the morning.  We couldn’t (I found it silly to) carry the canoe up so we filled it with rocks.  Don’t want a repeat of last night.  Smokies for dinner.  Tent still a little wet.  Our goal is to just leave before noon tomorrow.  I think we can handle that.  One more night before Peace River.  About 70km left.

 

Day 4   61km

 

I feel like we woke up at a reasonable time and didn’t dilly dally, but as Becky put it, “we didn’t hurry.”  We were on the water just before noon.  How do people get up so early!?  We saw 4 bears, 6 deer, a few eagles and investigated a wolf carcass!  We took a break to swim and it was the best.  I cracked a beer in the cold refreshing water, We kept at it.  Found a nice island around 6 o’clock but decided we might as well paddle a little longer.  It was almost 2 hours later when we stopped around 7:45. Found a long but subtle shore.  We decided to camp there. We had a glass of wine or two before making burritos.  I found a deer bed maybe 60m behind our tent.  Such a nice view.  Very nice house across the river up on the hill.  We are hoping to get on the water before noon tomorrow.  Only about 40km left.  Almost forgot.  We saw a beaver on top of a dam and we found a paddle that looked like driftwood!  I’m keeping it!

 

Day 5   42km

 

Last day on the water.  We woke up and started taking down camp before breakfast.  Took us our usual 1h45-2 hours.  We did breakfast hash again with coffee.  The coffee is always my favourite part.  After adding a couple hours on the water the night before we knew it wasn’t going to be a terribly long day.  I guessed 4 hours and it ended up being 5.  We noticed lots of cabins on the north side of the river during this stretch.  We came across a barge too.  The was represented on the GPS as a road which really threw me off because the whole time I thought “how have we not hit the first bridge yet!?”  We finally got to the main bridge in Peace River and Becky convinced me this was “the bridge.”  I’m glad I listened because who knows how long we’d have to go till we hit another bridge.  We called Cat, our ride, at the bridge and she said if we hit the island in front of us we’ve gone too far.  We stopped at the bank so I could get out and scout it out on foot so we didn’t overshoot it.  We finally made it and I felt proud but we weren’t done yet.  Becky and I, after loading up the truck followed Cat and her dad to the pub for a beer.  It was also wing night.  I got two pounds and two beers.  Cat and her dad were great company and very funny.  Her dad, Brian, showed us a cedar strip kayak he has been working on for some time now.  It is gorgeous.  On the drive home we met rain almost the entire way.  We were so grateful to be in a truck.  Almost 300km on the water.  What a trip.  I need to tell me dog all about it as soon as I get back.  Today, we saw (before exiting the canoe) about 6 deer, 1 mouse under my coat, a caterpillar and 1 bear.  Oh, and two people in a river boat in Peace River told Cat they saw us in Dunvegan! How cool is that? What an incredible way to see and experience the Peace.  I don’t know anyone else who can say they’ve done this.

 

281km total for the trip.

 

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