Rafting the Lardeau River

Earlier in the spring as we were plotting our trip, Zach saw Lardeau River Adventures advertised on one of the Kootenay Instagram accounts he follows. He showed me the photo, which displayed an emerald river sparkling in the sun. It looked gorgeous. I immediately wanted to do it – fresh off the memory of our time on the Kicking Horse River the previous summer – and looked up their website. Operated by a husband and wife team, it was more expensive than the other rafting trips we’ve done, but also a longer and more immersive trip. After figuring out which day would work in our rough itinerary, I called to reserve our spot.

With the rain that plagued our trip, I continually checked the forecast for our river trip. While they go rain or shine, I really wanted, no needed, a sunny day for our trip down the Lardeau. By some miracle, our rafting day was the first fully sunny day in over a week. It was simply gorgeous as we drove from Kaslo to their office in Meadow Creek.

What a stellar view

We arrived at their home/office to find that we were the only rafters. Between the wet weather and cooler temperatures others must have been reticent to schedule a trip. Tamara offered us tea, coffee, and muffins as we signed our remaining paperwork and waited to depart. Although I suspect they are always fairly easygoing, with only the two of us, we were able to move at a relaxed pace.

Putting in

We put the raft in the river within the boundaries of Goat Range Provincial Park and floated in and out of it until the river led us away entirely. Aside from some cars on the road – which the river loosely followed – and a couple of off-the-grid homes, we were the only people out. It was incredible to be surrounded by such beauty and not see another soul around.

Zach took Oliver up on the chance to jump from one of the bridges we passed under

When we were roughly halfway through our route, we pulled the raft to the side to have lunch. Oly and Tamara try to source everything from their garden and provide a good balance to energize you for the rest of the river. It was fantastic; plump sweet cherries, some veggies, an amazing sandwich, and the best cookies – it was a miniature feast!

Rafting the Lardeau with Oly and Tamara is less about adrenaline and more about the experience. Unlike other whitewater trips we’ve done, on this trip we were able to truly enjoy a day on the river. We had plenty of opportunity to simply observe and listen to the sounds around us, allowing us to truly disconnect and savor each moment.

Oly was not only a knowledgeable guide, but clearly passionate about the area he’s made his home. One of the aspects I enjoyed most about our intimate float was the ability to learn more about the West Kootenays. We don’t always have the opportunity on our trips to ask questions and get answers in return! Plus, as a former bear guide, Oly was able to expand our understanding of grizzly bears and validate the precautions we take when we’re tent camping in grizzly country. Though we didn’t see any that day, it isn’t uncommon to see grizzlies along the Lardeau, especially during the salmon run.

I’m not sure I can put into words the perfection of the day. To be out on the river as a visitor to a magnificent ecosystem that will continue with or without you, and witness its power and beauty is a spectacular way to spend a day. It will certainly remain a special experience for both of us.

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