Rising Waters in ODP

Thursday, June 21, 2018 - By: Sarah R, Mackenzie ‘20

Situated on the east coast of Vancouver Island, between Campbell River and Parksville, the Puntledge River is a serene and beautiful area. Last weekend, eight Brentwood students had the opportunity to have a relaxing as well as challenging weekend camping and whitewater kayaking on the river.

The Puntledge River Paddling Festival is open to anyone who wants to have a fun weekend kayaking, canoeing, or whitewater rafting. It is timed in relationship with when the fish hatcheries upstream open the dam to give the baby fish an extra boost getting into the ocean. This meant that over the course of the weekend, the water levels in the river continuously rose, providing an increasing challenge. Quincy E, Privitt ‘20 said “I think [the weekend] developed my skills greatly, such as my skills in surfing and rolling”. The rising water levels also provided us with entertainment, when, at our launching spot, we observed salmon fry being pumped through a large hose from the hatchery into the river, and the unique opportunity to see a seal in the river, as it had come up from the ocean to try to catch the small fish.  

We departed for the river as the sun rose early on Saturday morning, in order to enjoy the maximum possible whitewater time. After arriving at the campsite, we ate a snack, and immediately changed into wetsuits and paddling gear, eager to get on the water. With paddles, spray skits, life jackets and kayaks loaded into the truck, we drove about 5 minutes to the put-in. The first run was relatively short, and focussed on getting accustomed to the new river, and practising our eddy turns and surfing. 

After lunch, we went for another paddle, this time starting from further upstream. A few hours later, we turned into the eddy close to the field where we were camping tired, soaked, and happy. After changing our clothes and draining our boats, we set up tents, and prepared and enjoyed a delicious dinner. Following clean up, the evening was filled with intense games of cards, chess, and spoons, along with mugs of steaming hot chocolate and apple cider, campfires, marshmallows, and an incredible live Celtic music group. 

On Sunday morning, we rose with the sun, and prepared French Toast and sausages for breakfast. We paddled the river twice that day, with a quick break for lunch in between, before taking down our camp, and sleepily boarding the bus to return home. Zoe T, Hope ‘19, summed up the experience by saying “It was the best weekend I’ve had in a very long time”. 

We would like to thank Mr. Norman for all the hard work he put into organizing this trip! 

Sarah R, Mackenzie ‘20

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