Debbie’s and my plan is to pack early and stop at one of the many lakes between us and home and practice partner and self rescue techniques. One never plans a spill and if it happens it is a good idea to know how to get back in a kayak. Kayaks are narrow by design. If you sit in the middle and do squiggle around much they are very stable, but one lapse of concentration and you’re going for a swim.
This is when a little practice of getting back into the kayak pays off. There are a myriad of different techniques, and many different variations, on each of the methods to climb back into an overturned boat. You can take a course which will teach you one or two different ways to do it but I found searching the internet, and watching dozens of videos and borrowing ideas from several helped a lot. Both Debbie and I are fairly body aware and know what we are capable of. There were some of the methods that were just not going to work for either of us and some we thought we should try. By experimenting we each found a couple of ways that work. We have been practicing them. As we find others we give them a try and have added ones we could make work to our practice schedule.
We stop at Buffalo Lake. There are 3 different provincial parks around the lake and we wanted to do some reconnaissance for future camping excursions. The Narrows, the first stop, is a nice campground accessed by a gravel road. There were a lot of available spots, due to the gravel road access I think. There was a good place to put the kayaks in but the water is a reedy channel between Buffalo Lake and another smaller body of water. Not somewhere we want to dump the kayak and practice our skills. Nice enough campground though and maybe a place to return to. We could paddle the narrows and chill in the great outdoors.
Next stop Rochon Sands. There is a provincial park campground there as well. It is a little more crowded as the access road is paved right to the park. The beach in the park is nice enough but quite small. There are no reeds in the area of the beach and the bottom is sandy. This is where we launch the boats, go for a paddle, come back to shore don our wetsuits and head out to get wet. First the water is not a cold as we thought so the wetsuits are a bit of overkill and second the lake there is so shallow, even 50M beyond the swim enclosure both Debbie and I can touch bottom. We still practiced but cheated a couple of times when touching bottom was an asset. It was still time well spent as getting into the kayak was difficult but we both managed to do it.
Refreshed from out dip in the water and tired from our strenuous efforts we head to the north shore of the lake and the Buffalo Lake Provincial Recreation Area. This would be the most ‘rustic’ of the campsites. Again it is accessed by a gravel road and not as many folks are willing to travel the 5KM on a less than perfect road to get to a campground. The beach there is quite nice, we wandered out to the waters edge and there is a lot more room there than at the Rochon Sands Provincial Park. The one downside to this area is it is quite low, elevation wise. There has been a lot of rain this year in Alberta and a lot of the sites are rendered useless because of the boggy conditions.
Any of these three spots look good for future forays into the wilderness. Don’t know when we will make it back but I’m pretty sure we will.
The rest of the trip is a highway drive and I am again amazed at the fantastic landscape that I have driven though a hundred times and only in the last few years been awed by what is there.