Words By: Alison McPherson
Ali here checking in with a river report from the Cascade River this past Monday. Although not for everyone, I seem to get enjoyment out of missions that involve a bit of suffering, which is why hiking my boat 5km into the Cascade River sounded way too appealing to me.
PHOTO: Hiking to the put-in. (Photo by Jason)
After getting some beta from Spenser Sedgewick who had ran it the week before, I was able to get Jason Boutet and Dale Mayell to join me for the hike and paddle. Dale had paddled it the week before with Spenser so I was stoked to have him along.
We lucked out with some cooler temperatures that day, which made the hike quite pleasant. The hike is about 5km up a fire road with a gradual incline for the whole way. It took us about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to the river.
The run is a continuous class II-III boulder garden style river. There are tons of eddies to catch and lots of great places to practice boofing. This was unlike any other river I’ve paddled around the area, as the size of the boulders were massive. It reminded me of paddling in Ecuador, with an endless amount of boofs. Cascade was definitely one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever been on and was 110% worth the hike in!
There is one bigger rapid, Hydrator, which is worth a scout as it is a bit more technical and can vary significantly at different water levels (I confirmed this by comparing photos with Spenser). The river takes a turn to the right and the canyon section begins here, so it is fairly obvious to get out and scout at that point. Scout and portage on river left.
PHOTO: Scouting Hydrator (Photo by Chuck O'Callaghan)
After this short canyon section, the river opens up again and you can see Lake Minnewanka and likely lots of tourists doing some hiking around the area. Paddle on the right-hand side of the lake until you reach the boathouse, which is where you take out.
Location: Cascade River in Banff National Park
Our Water Level: There is no real gauge for this river although it is usually in when Pipestone is in. Pipestone was at 12cms when we ran Cascade, which seemed quite low and was significantly lower than the week before when Spenser was on it. I am excited to check it out at higher levels next year.
Grade (at this level): III
Character (at this level): Low volume continuous boulder gardens with some technical maneuvering required. Mostly read and run and lots of opportunity for eddy hopping and boofing.
Directions: Drive towards Lake Minnewanka in Banff. About 1km before the Lake Minnewanka parking lot, there is a pull-out on the right hand side of the road. Park there and cross the road, where the fire road that you walk up begins. You finish the run at the Lake Minnewanka parking lot. You can either run a shuttle or just walk the 1km back to the car.
Run Spotlights: Not only was this one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever paddled, the style of paddling was great to practice creeking moves on a class III section of river. Some highlights include:
-The endless amounts of eddies to catch. This is the perfect place to put a lot of skills into play on a more technical piece of river without it being too challenging or too consequential.
-Boofs after boofs after boofs!
-Paddling out into Lake Minnewanka. There is nothing quite like paddling out into the big lake. It definitely made me feel like I accomplished a solid mission for the day!
PHOTO: Hydrator Rapid (Photo by Jason)
PHOTO: Jason styling the Antix on Cascade (Photo by Dale)
PHOTO: Boof after boof after boof! (Photo by Dale)
PHOTO: Ledge right after Hydrator (Photo by Chuck O'Callaghan)
PHOTO: Finishing up the day on beautiful Lake Minnewanka (Photo by Dale)
All in all, I am super stoked to have been able to get out on a new river that involved a bit of a mission to get to. I personally think this is a great run for class III paddlers who are looking to apply creeking skills in a new location, which happens to be in one of the most beautiful spots in the world!