Widgeon Creek query

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by Kermode, Jul 8, 2010.

  1. stuckonearth

    stuckonearth Paddler

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    Yeah, some of your photos are quite nice.

    Where/how did you get a key to the gate?


    Nice try. Anything else that you've not mentioned? btw: it's not above the campsite where I was referring to.

    You're making the river crossing sound much, much more difficult and dangerous than it is. Yes there are boats, there can be wind, and there can be some current but it's not nearly as treacherous as you make it out to be. Countless numbers of inexperienced canoe renters have crossed that river without any problems over the past many years. So why now, according to you is it so incredibly dangerous?

    Seems to me that you're being melodramatic.
     
  2. kayakwriter

    kayakwriter Paddler

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    Hey lomcevak, thanks for the great pictures. Takes me back - I've been there many times over the years, spring, summer, winter, and fall, overnighters and day trips, by kayak and by canoe.

    I've got mixed feelings about the rental concession closure. Yes, it should cut down on the beer-can dropping 24-tourist crowd, but I'm worried about the reason for its closing: the insecurity of tenure as the land claims are sorted out.

    On the great Grant Narrows crossing debate: yep, it's a cake walk much of the time. But only much. I've also been there in wind-against-current conditions where I had to face my kayak upstream and do a high angle ferry to make the crossing, getting green water over my spraydeck, and being glad I wasn't in an open boat. On those occasions, the canoes were poking their bows out of the lee of the rental docks, looking at the whitecaps, and turning back (or maybe being called back by the rental operators, who didn't want to have to go fish out their canoes and clients:)
     
  3. lomcevak

    lomcevak Paddler

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    It is very appreciated when I hear that people enjoy the photos. Sorry I couldn't annotate them all.

    Anybody see the eagle (or perhaps 'phoenix') in that one photo?

    I truly believe that there's more to it than what you read in the papers; and it's not really related to land claims, etc.; but I do not feel comfortable posting my opinions publicly as to what I really think is going on.
     
  4. stuckonearth

    stuckonearth Paddler

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    Yes, I agree that some times it can get nasty on that stretch but it's not at all frequently, certainly not the doom, gloom, and certain death situation that lomcevak makes it out to be.

    Regarding the canoe concession closure, it's just what it says it is. If you've been reading the papers you'll know what's going on with the land claims. lomcevak, what do you think is going on there? I'd be interested to know what your take on it is.

    And how did you get a key to the gate?
     
  5. rider

    rider Paddler

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    In my experience,crossing the Narrows is a non-issue for anyone with any sort of paddling skill,and most people without. Although, I can see how a beginner or person with no real paddling skills could feel uncomfortable there. Especially if they're in an unfamiliar boat or wind/current is doing something funky.
    I have mixed feelings about the closure of the rental company. It will reduce the number of drunken idiots at camp,and I'll bet the creek won't have that "Bad traffic day in Richmond" feel to it on a nice weekend, but it's also a family experience taken away from people who can't afford or have nowhere to store a canoe,and have no rack to transport it with. I rented from them once,made for a pretty nice daytime date.
    P.S. stuckonearth, what's with the hostility towards lomcevac? He may be overly cautious at times and probably not an expert paddler,but he does his best to exercise good judgment with the skill level of the group in mind,which is to be respected.
     
  6. lomcevak

    lomcevak Paddler

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    Yes, I agree with this 100%. I am no longer an 'inexperienced' paddler, and I don't mind being on the ocean in 2 - 3' breaking waves or huge rolling waves that make you disappear from sight in each trough. So, no, for anyone with even just a little familiarity with wave and water, and a strong enough stroke it's no big deal at all.

    HOWEVER, that first time I was out many years ago was very, very scary when the water was almost breaking over the gunwhales. And, like I said, I have had several times when people got separated by several hundred meters away, and could not make their way back and they couldn't hear me over the wind. A lot of the time the crossing is completely benign, but about 1/4th to 1/3rd of the times I've been out, the winds have picked up (especially on night return paddles). I was trying to impress upon the absolute rank beginner who may be nervous about water that, YES, Widgeon Creek is an extremely safe place to paddle and they should feel comfortable with that; and it is a superb place for a first paddle - but the crossing can, on occasion be hazardous.

    The Widgeon Creek paddle is touted as being for beginners, and thus I was writing this from that perspective, hence the cautiousness. (Oh yeah, I already said that before. :roll: ). You try being out in those conditions with 5 other boats when one person has wandered way off one way, someone else can't even paddle to keep their boat straight, and no one can hear you over the wind, and yes, you get very concerned for the safety of the group. The number of times I've had to tie a line to my boat, and end up towing them...geesh. And if you ever had a chance to speak with the fellow who operated the rental outfit...he could tell you of the countless times he's needed to go out to rescue hapless paddlers.

    No, MOST of the time it's a non-issue, but there are other times, with absolute newbies, that the conditions are beyond what they can handle. THAT'S the point.
     
  7. Jurfie

    Jurfie Paddler

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    I've been to Widgeon Creek exactly twice.

    The first time I was in a canoe with my wife; neither of us were very experienced paddlers. Waverider and his now wife were with us, in kayaks. The crossing from the rental place (where I got the canoe) to the slough was a non-issue...beautiful sunny and hot day, calm waters...we had an enjoyable afternoon paddling the creek. On the way back, the wind had picked up and the tide was flowing pretty strong (to an inexperienced canoer...canoist?...canoobie? Whatever.) It looked fine when we exited the shelter of the creek, but once about halfway across, it was a struggle. We had to ferry-angle and edge the canoe to make it across without taking on water or capsizing (waverider's non-waterproof camera was in the canoe with us!). We made it, but it was a little nerve-wracking for us noobs. :?

    Waverider and his wife seemed to have no problem at all with the crossing, but they were more experienced than we were at the time, and in kayaks - which I think helped. While unloading back at the dock, the rental operator bolted down the dock into his boat to rescue someone in another party who had capsized during the crossing (kudoes to him for his quick action).

    The second time I paddled Widgeon was again with waverider, but in a kayak. There were no issues whatsoever; it was foggy, but calm, and no sphincter clenching moments at all (well, except that I capsized a few feet from the launch for no good reason, but I'll never admit it happened) :doh:

    I think lomcevak's cautious description of the crossing is warranted - especially for beginners. 9 times out of 10, there is probably no issue (my own experience was 1 time out of 2, stuckonearth's was obviously no issues anytime out of however many times he/she has paddled it), but there can be some hairy moments for those not comfortable in anything but flatwater. With the experience I have now, however, I think I would have been comfortable, or else grinning the whole time. :wink:

    Thanks for the commentary and photos lomcevak. It took a while, but I found your "eagle" - cool picture! :clap:
     
  8. lomcevak

    lomcevak Paddler

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    Yeah, that's quite a neat pic, eh?

    On the hike one member of my group found this in the root system of an overturned tree:



    Trail overgrowth. We couldn't see our feet, and were walking by feel when all of a sudden I realized we were on a narrow little foot bridge. Fun!


    The Falls
     

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  9. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    I've got to agree with most in this discussion. On the vast majority of days Widgeon Creek is no big deal. However, I've been across to Widgeon Creek a few times when the river crossing got a bit nasty. I recall one time at Widgeon Creek not long after I had started paddling and had pretty much zero experience -- I figured "hey, it's a calm hot summer day and it's Widgeon Creek, no big deal" so I left my spray skirt in the car. When I returned several hours later in the afternoon to the Pitt River, the wind had really kicked up and the river was completely covered with white-caps. I managed to get across OK without getting too much water in my cockpit, but it was one of the most humbling and unnerving paddling moments that I've had. I've never gone on a paddle without a sprayskirt since.

    I've learned never to underestimate the ability for near instant weather changes in the Pitt Lake area (including Widgeon Creek). It's easily one of the nastiest places in the Vancouver area for surprise inclement weather. Even in the middle of summer on a beautiful hot and blue-sky day, the sky can grey over in minutes and you can be doused with hard rain for hours. The wind can pick up and blow 4 foot waves all day long keeping even the power boaters off the water. I spent four days on Pitt Lake where it rained non-stop the entire time -- and yet a few kilometers away in Vancouver it was sunny.

    But really, it's pretty much like anywhere that we paddle around here on the west coast -- so much of how a trip will be depends upon being prepared and keeping abreast of current weather conditions -- because situations can change quickly.

    The only place that I know of for certain where the water stays pretty much glass-like regardless of the weather is in False Creek.

    *****
     
  10. Steve_Fairbairn

    Steve_Fairbairn Paddler

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    Unless, of course, you are near the top of one of the tributaries and get pushed into a downed tree root by the fast moving current. :wink: :cool

    Seriously, though, the current near the top end of the tributaries can be pretty strong in the spring or after heavy rains. Other times, it can be hard to find enough water to float your boat.

    Widgeon, despite being a labeled as "beginner" route, is still one of my favorite day trips if for no other reason than the scenery and abundance/variety of wildlife. It is the only place I've seen an osprey attack a heron in midair. :shock:

    Dan claims to have seen other types of "wild life" during our many paddles there, as well. :yikes:
     
  11. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    LOL. Yup, I know exactly what that feels like. The instance that Steve is referring to here is a time when we paddled way up to the end of one of the tributaries -- the current was very strong and we were barely able to paddle against it -- we paddled around a corner where a large tree had fallen leaving an exposed root ball on the up-river side. Steve rounded the corner without much problem and continued up the fast running stream. I was lagging a bit behind him and by the time I got to the corner, Steve was up ahead and out of site around the next bend.

    I was in my skin on frame kayak at the time and as I rounded the corner, my bow got caught in the current and swung me around. Without a rudder I couldn't correct the direction of the boat and I was pushed broadside into the root ball. There was nothing I could do but keep the upriver side of the kayak angled up to prevent the boat from flipping over into the current. I was pinned hard against the root ball with the stern of the kayak lodged between the roots and the bow of the kayak firmly embedded into the muddy bank. Current was pushing the boat so hard that I could barely move it... after a few minutes of futile struggling, I was really, really starting to get concerned that I was in a very precarious position and didn't have many options. If I was to capsize, I'd for sure get snagged on the root ball and be pinned underwater. Steve was still no where in sight (not that he could have done anything but throw me a line) and I was getting desperate. The only option left was to exit the boat and climb onto the fallen tree -- a risky proposition in itself.

    I figured I'd try one more time to get the boat free before attempting to exit the kayak. I grabbed onto the roots of the tree and heaved as hard as I could, moving the kayak an inch back and an inch forward. After several attempts the bow broke free of the bank and the current grabbed it and pulled the bow of the boat upstream. It happened in a split second and I'm not 100 percent certain exactly what happened to get my bow headed upstream but it did and I paddled as hard as I could against the current to get as far away from the root ball as I could. Just at that time Steve came around the bend and was heading straight towards me with the possibility of pushing me and him back into the root ball. I yelled at Steve to change course (of course, the noise from the river was deafening) and he finally understood what I was saying just before he got to me and we avoided what could have been two precarious situations in one day.

    So yes, there are some places in the tributary where currents are very strong and you can certainly get into trouble if you're not careful.


    Well, we've both seen several pairs of panties hanging like trophies in the bush at one of the small beaches along the creek. But my youngest daughter and I saw, well, let's just say that we saw what a pair of panties would have been covering as we rounded a bend and inadvertently interrupted a young couple who were, well... you know.

    Widgeon Creek is also one of my favourite places to paddle -- you just never know what kind of adventures and experiences that peaceful and tranquil place can bring you. :cool

    *****