View topic - Widgeon Creek - Bring your pole!

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PostPosted: December 16th, 2009, 4:06 pm 
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Joined: April 13th, 2008, 12:07 am
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Location: Abbotsford BC
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I had often read about Widgeon Creek, but had never taken the opportunity to paddle it. Last Saturday I had no obligations so I figured this would be a great opportunity to try it out. I'm sure many of you have paddled it, but I was so taken by the area that I figured I would post my experience.

After a delayed start (I store my canoe at my parents' place, and it's hard to get away from there with out a coffee or two!) I finally got to Grant Narrows just before 11am. It was cold and crisp, with no wind... I crossed the narrows into the creek and was instantly amazed at the beauty of the marsh surrounding me. A flock of white geese a half kilometre away began stirring, and as I paddled closer started lifting off in a cacophony of sound, 10 or so at a time, winging their way further south. The water, quite silty near the narrows, quickly changed to a clear blue/green; the creek bottom transitioning from silt to sand to gravel, and sometimes a mixture of all three.

I had paddled roughly a kilometre from the mouth of the creek when another solo canoeist came into view around the corner, his dog occupying the front of the canoe. It was a picturesque sight; and affirming to me. I often get a bit of grief from friends and family for canoeing alone, and while I understand the concern, I feel I have a good handle on the risks I am taking and am comfortable with it. It felt good to see and meet someone else of the same mindset.

After a quick conversation, I continued along upstream, admiring the starkness of the marsh and the mountains beyond. I kept my eyes open for any side channels that would be open for exploration, but every channel I encountered was blocked by ice, which was too thick to break through. After a while, the creek was for the most part only 3' deep, and I switched to poling. I had read about somebody else poling in the creek, so I had brought mine along hopeful for a bit of practice. I was not disappointed - the conditions were perfect for it. The variety of the bottom constantly amazed me; the deep water channel meandered back and forth, so I would be poling in a straight line in 1-2’ of water, when the bottom would drop away in a pool that was 10’ deep, rising up slowly again to 1’. I reached the main fork in the creek and headed up towards the left.

After this fork the deep water channel becomes only 8-10 feet wide, and on corners large gravel/sand bars begin showing up, covered by only a few inches of water. It was a delight to be able to skim over these gravel bars, where paddling would not be possible.

This left fork brings you much closer to the mountain side, and some small streams began appearing on the left (west) side of the main channel, often having washed large amounts of gravel into the main creek, again providing much enjoyment for me as I was able to skim over these areas. These streams had been dammed by beavers just up from joining the main stream, and these ponds were frozen, with a coat of snow over the ice. It was just fantastic to see!

I was just marveling at how close I could be to the Lower Mainland, and feel so far away, when I rounded a corner, and saw a truck parked there. I momentarily felt quite annoyed for being cheated of my ‘wilderness experience’, and then had to laugh at myself and moved on.

As I leisurely poled my way along, the marshy condition was beginning to be replaced by evergreens. The creek continued to narrow, and the bottom was mostly gravel and sand at this point, and oh so crystal clear. Small black birds (I’m clueless when it comes to identifying birds and plants) would hop from the bank into the creek, and swim about underwater a bit, before hopping back up onto the bank to chirp at me. Bits of ice just above the water would fall into the creek as the movement of my canoe sent small waves to slap at them. Some fallen trees provided a bit of an obstacle course, but I worked through these without much difficulty. I was just beginning to think that I would really like some lunch, when I came to a corner where the creek spread itself thinly over a gravel bar the entire width of the channel, so I was forced to stop. A beautiful sand beach lent itself as a great lunch spot, and I cannot think of a better spot to enjoy hot coffee, soup and a sandwich. A bald eagle traced the path of the river as I sat there, and I was so thankful for the day and my surroundings, the cold air and the small stream.

I was considering portaging over the corner and seeing how much further I could work my way upstream, but time would not permit. I had just started back downstream when I met a couple of kayakers; after a brief chat continued on my way. Half a km downstream I saw a bald eagle, perched on an overhanging branch no more than 15’ above the water. The kayakers had caught up to me again, and the 3 of us drifted slowly by the eagle, not saying a word, just savoring the moment. It was rather disconcerting to be directly under the eagle and have its piercing gaze directed at me.

I continued with the kayakers for a bit, talking about the beauty of the day, our latest adventures, etc. It was great to be able to share a bit of the experience with someone else.

Arriving back at the fork, I decided to push a ways up the right channel. I knew I had to be returning to the put-in soon, but I could not make myself turn around. Every corner I said ‘just one more corner’…. Finally I tore myself away from the lure of the proverbial next corner and made the return trip. Paddling across the narrows, I suddenly realized the tide was rising, as I was moving sideways fairly quickly. It was no problem to adjust course, I was just momentarily disoriented until I realized what was happening. Back at the dock I loaded up in the fading light, and enjoyed the achy tiredness of a good day of paddling & poling.


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PostPosted: December 16th, 2009, 11:13 pm 
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Joined: March 23rd, 2006, 11:21 pm
Posts: 1076
Location: Burns Lake, BC
Thanks for the trip! :thumbup:

Canoeheadted.


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PostPosted: December 24th, 2009, 12:51 pm 
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Joined: April 26th, 2006, 12:14 am
Posts: 575
Location: Surrey, BC
Yeah, Wigeon is cool. It gets very crowded in summer, though.

Go there during the June flood on the Fraser, the water is much deeper and you can get waaaaay further upstream along the various branches.

Theres an awesome little waterfall a short hike up from the western-most branch, too.

Have you been towards the north end of Pitt Lake? Once you get past the dog-leg, its actually quite wildernessy, despite it's close proximity to Vancouver and stuff.

Thanks for sharing

I have a trip report on Wigeon, here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/tomfromvan/Wigeon_Late_April_2007?feat=embedwebsite#

Happy winter solstice ...

:D

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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.
"The Golden Spruce", John Vaillant


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