View topic - Planning to paddle from Harrison Lake to Langley - hazards?

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PostPosted: April 27th, 2009, 12:43 pm 
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I'm planning to paddle from Harrison Lake down the Fraser to the Albion ferry parking lot in a couple weeks from now, and I was wondering if anybody knew of any hazards that I should be aware of?

Like the confluence of the Fraser/Harrison rivers --- how turbulent is it likely to be? Is it best to hug the shore where those two rivers meet? If so, which shore?

Or, just any potential "gotcha's" one might not be aware of along this stretch of river.

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PostPosted: April 27th, 2009, 5:35 pm 
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Do the trip now before we get the snow melt, at which point it will be very hazardous.

I was just on the Harrison -- low and slow, requires actual paddling in spots. The Fraser below the Harrison is really a piece of cake, just watch for the fishing guides in the jet boats doing 50mph -- they don't give canoes much leeway, makes for some anxious times.


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PostPosted: April 27th, 2009, 5:50 pm 
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No doubt --- thanks for that.

What level would you regard as being too hazardous?

Say, in terms of the level of the Fraser at the Mission Guage?
http://scitech.pyr.ec.gc.ca/waterweb/fullgraph.asp

Right now at the Mission guage, it's at 2 point something, but rising fast. I see from the multi-year graph that if it's gonna flood, this is when it's gonna happen. Just when I wanted to do this paddle, too --- damn.

You're thinking this should be done before it rises above what level?

Just out of curiosity, what's the big deal about a river in flood?

Surely the snags that were exposed and a hazard when the level was low are no longer a factor --- I get the feeling there's something really obvious that I'm totally missing...

But yeah, I'll cancel this in a heartbeat if I think it's ill advised --- it's actually just a kind of warm-up to more important salt-water trips, later in the season.

Problem is, I'm very inexperienced on freshwater/river paddling of any kind. I'm more of an ocean paddler than a whitewater guy. Please --- help me fill in the gaps in my knowledge (of which there are many).

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PostPosted: April 27th, 2009, 5:59 pm 
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*Here's the level of the Fraser River at the Mission guage for the last 3 years.

Attachment:
Fraser_level.JPG
Fraser_level.JPG [ 172.76 KiB | Viewed 2719 times ]


We're just at the point where it'll really start to rise.

You guys think by May 9th it'll be too high to paddle safely?

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PostPosted: April 27th, 2009, 8:24 pm 
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"Just out of curiosity, what's the big deal about a river in flood? "

Rivers in flood become very different creatures. A few highlights:
-large trees floating very fast, think big cottonwoods with rootwads running you down
-sometimes whole logjams let loose
-water flowing at high velocity through forests, barbwire fences...
-whirlpools
-topography to the surface of the water, think eddy fences a foot or more high
-funny water that opens up and eats you
-no banks to exit onto safely should you swim
-new rapids where there usually are not
-etc...

If you are looking for an ocean comparison of power, think some of the large coastal tidal rapids. High water is not to be taken lightly (less than full bank), flood over the banks is very dangerous and only for the most expert paddlers who enjoy risk.

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PostPosted: April 27th, 2009, 8:37 pm 
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Hmmm, thanks for that, Aaron, food for thought ...

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PostPosted: April 27th, 2009, 9:20 pm 
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Think also of all those waterlogged snags floating just below the surface. On the other hand the trip will go quite quickly as the river moves quite fast in flood.

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PostPosted: April 28th, 2009, 1:08 am 
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Hey Tom, we paddled it during low water (mid April) last year and things were pretty tame.

We did encounter several sections where the boat was actually pulled upstream because of the confused currents. I would stay river left when passing where the Harrison river joins. Haven 't been there, but would assume river right when passing the Vedder as well.

Aaron's bang on with just some of the dangers. Go before it floods or paddle with another boat. Be safe and take lots of pics!


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PostPosted: April 28th, 2009, 8:18 am 
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When you say, "river left", do you mean be on the left side of the river, while looking downstream, or with the river to the left while looking downstream?

Sorry, I'm whitewater-challenged.

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PostPosted: April 28th, 2009, 9:34 am 
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Quote:
When you say, "river left", do you mean be on the left side of the river, while looking downstream,
Yes.


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PostPosted: April 28th, 2009, 10:39 am 
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Thanks Krusty --- oh, are you and Monster still planning on paddling PRI this year?

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PostPosted: April 28th, 2009, 11:23 am 
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I dunno. I'm scrambling for time this year. Would love to get back on the ocean though.


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PostPosted: April 28th, 2009, 12:23 pm 
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Another ocean analogy came to mind: http://tsunamirangers.com/ are similar to the high-end paddlers who like to tackle rivers in flood. Granted, I am talking ww rivers in flood, but the idea holds.

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PostPosted: April 28th, 2009, 3:56 pm 
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If this warm weather keeps up I would suspect that May 9th may be too late if you don't have experience on this river (it is getting to about max safe flow right about now in my view).

As a previous poster said, it is not the current or water level per se, but all the junk that gets flushed down the river, and the water gets very dark and murky so you can't see dangers readily.

You can always try on May 9th -- the Harrison is usually fine at anytime (be very careful of log jams and sweepers though). If the Fraser is feeling uncomfortable then paddle to shore and call it a day.

The Harrison will be a lot more fun May 9th than it is right now. You may just want to do that run to Kilby Park.

A bigger, longer canoe that tracks well would be ideal. A solo canoe would require a lot more skill on this water.


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PostPosted: April 30th, 2009, 2:28 pm 
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Got it --- thanks for the input.
Attachment:
fraser.jpg
fraser.jpg [ 209.17 KiB | Viewed 2583 times ]


My friend said the confluence between the Harrison/Fraser can actually be quite hair-raising, and he said hug the left shore, but that would seem to imply turning upstream into the Fraser --- not sure I was following his meaning, and when you guys say 'river left' past the Harrison, I think you're assuming I'm coming down the Fraser. I'm not. I'm coming down the Harrison.

Given that I'm coming down the Harrison --- how should I handle the juncture of the two rivers? Like in the image?

And yes, I'm following the real-time data at the Mission guage and if it's anything over 2.5 or 3.0 meters, I'm gonna bag this one, for sure.

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Mariners must navigate these waters the same way a mouse negotiates a kitchen patrolled by cats: by darting furtively from one hiding place to the next.
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