Valour’s Better Part
Finally in the canoe after close to 200 km overland, the Similkameen seemed a dream.
I went a grand total of 400 meters before I was out and lining the canoe. I had planned on making Keremeos in at most one and a half days but that looked to be a pipe dream.
Things change of course and yesterday was proof of that. After being stymied by a rifle in the first few minutes, l reeled of 20 km in about 90 minutes. Flushed with success, I left Bromley Rock thinking I would bust out the remaining 40 km to Keremeos in less than 4 hours.
Ah, the naivety. The arrogance. The exhausting lack of humility. Or maybe just being a regular dumb-ass.
The next 10 km took three hours. Three portages totaling close to a kilometre. Another kilometer of lining down water I didn’t dare paddle and stopping to scout around corners I figured I better not paddle blind.
But I did make Plan B. Stemwimder campground was Plan B. Or rather Picard Campground just a few hundred meters upstream. I was greeted by an anxious Leah, the Pirate King, and Jeff, Jeff, and Dino. I’m not sure who was happier to see whom but my smile was the full length of the canoe.
With the more technical part of the river still ahead, I spent last night reliving the day’s more exciting moments. You know, the times when you fill the canoe with water in the standing waves or miss the line through the rapid and absolutely hammer the bottom of the canoe on a rock the size of a truck.
Today, the first 10km took an all too familiar 3 hours. No portages, but easily two hours of lining through willows, scouting rapids, and clambering along the rock-strewn shores thinking if I should or shouldn’t.
But at Bradshaw Creek, the steep hillsides receded to the west and the valley widened. It being pressed on a all sides, the river widened and slowed. The last 20 km was everything the map said it should be. Flat and fast. Maps, however, have little to say about wind. At one point, I actually stopped paddling to see if the wind would blow me to a standstill. Wind: 1. Current: 0.
The last bit of work was a 1.6 km portage to a campground close to the highway. I couldn’t do it in one go. I made 1.2 before needing to put the canoe down.
Keremeos. Phase 1 done. I was slow through the technical bits but discretion will always be the better part of valour.