A kayak travels the Fraser River in celebration of B.C. Rivers Day. The Hope Mountain Centre will lead a trip down the river from Yale to Hope on Sept. 25

Celebrating B.C. Rivers Day on the Fraser

Hope Mountain Centre to host a paddling trip from Yale to Hope on Sept. 25

There’s safety in numbers — and safety from being around people who know what they’re doing.

Both factors will be in play when Hope Mountain Centre hosts its sixth annual B.C. Rivers Day event, Sunday September 25.

This year, the centre for outdoor learning will be leading a trip down the Fraser River from Yale to Hope, with interpretative and refreshment stops along the way.

There will be a mixture of self-owned canoes and kayaks, along with rental kayaks, paddle-powered and motorized inflatable rafts — and a big voyageur-style canoe.

“It’s like a big floating city on the river,” says local naturalist and Mountain Centre member Kelly Pearce.

“Rivers Day was started in B.C. in 1980, with a river clean-up on the Thompson River,” he explains, “and it has gone world-wide since 2005.

“We’ve done the Yale to Hope trip before but we try to go back to the popular trips. We’ve also done the Harrison Lake to Kilby route and Hope to Kilby, which was our longest ever at 55 km. We decided not to repeat that one, because we were beat at the end of the day.

“The Yale to Hope section doesn’t require a lot of fitness, as the current carries you along,” adds Pearce, “but there at least two locations that have class 2 rapids and whirlpools and eddy lines that can easily flip inexperienced paddlers.”

He figured the most challenging spots are at Emory Creek, around Strawberry Island and just upstream from Hope.

“A novice won’t be allowed to just jump in a two-man canoe,” says Pearce. “If you want to bring your own boat, we’ll have a conversation with you [about your experience level] when you pre-register.”

It’s open for ages six and up, though Pearce says the younger ones would be placed in the inflatable rafts, which are captained by professional guides.

The Hope Mountain Centre is a non-profit society that promotes outdoor education, for school aged children on up to adults. In addition to organizing outdoor events, the group also builds and maintains local trails.

“We have a mixture of volunteers and part-time paid staff,” says Pearce. “It’s a team of 50 volunteers.

“We always try to add an educational component to our trips,” explains Pearce. “This year Charles Hou, a fur trade historian, will be on the trip to explain the history of Yale and Hope as fur-trading centres.

“Sonny McHalsie will come along too, so we’ll get the fur brigade and the First Nations background as we make stops along the way. There will also be a delicious lunch provided.”

The trip starts off at 8 a.m. in Hope, where participants board the shuttle bus. The  22 kilometre downstream leg begins at 9 a.m. and Pearce says the plan is to be back in Hope at 5 p.m.

“It’s rain or shine — but we’ve only had one rainy Rivers Day so far,” says Pearce. “Darwin and Sue Baerg [of Fraser River Rafting] have lots of rain gear to throw at us, just in case.”

If you supply your own boat, the cost per person is $67 and up to $100 for the motorized or paddle raft trip.

“We’re a non-profit group, so we always hope to cover our costs on these events,” stresses Pearce.

“Next year, we plan to do the Upper Skagit River,” he adds. “We don’t know yet if we’ll paddle it or hike it but Darwin and I will check it out in October. If we paddle, it will be from 26-mile Bridge, right down to Ross Lake.”

To learn more about the Hope Mountain Centre — or to pre-register for the Rivers Day Event — visit their website at http://hopemountaincentreforoutdoorlearning.camp9.org.

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