The Primrose is just one of those rivers that was meant to be pack rafted. A relatively short walk in through incredible alpine terrain, amazing scenery, and challenging paddling. In a packraft, the paddling is actually more than challenging. Simply put, you are not going to packraft the canyon portion. Well, someone might at low water levels, but its super gnarly, so there.
I kept throwing this out a a trip all summer, and Paul Burbidge kept saying "I'm in", and he was. We were all set to do it on the Labor Day weekend, but three makes a safer number, and Dylan Stuart was enlisted as a rock solid third, albeit a relatively newbie packrafter.
|The Burb. As a surveyor specializing in bush work, this dude is happy sleeping in the mud, eating bugs for dinner, and generally making short work of any and all wilderness challenges.|
But back to the trip. We all took the Friday before the Friday before Labor Day weekend off to ensure we had enough time in hand to finish the trip. We had no idea how long it would take, We knew we would be portaging. A lot. Paul B had no spraydeck on his raft (what had he been thinking!) and Dylan was a relative new comer to packrafting. We knew it had tough whitewater, but we also knew we had the judgement and sense to scout when required, and portage when it made sense. Its packrafting after all.
Paul Bs partner Carrie shuttled us out to the Wheaton river valley bright and early on a spectacular August 30th morning. Sunny, bluebird, warm. Perfect. We flew up the old mining Bernie Creek exploration road, and then left the road to travel overland straight through the alpine to Primrose lake. 6 hours later we were blowing up the rigs on the shores of Primrose lake.
|Leaving the road at the headwaters of Bernie creek|
|Looking into the Coast Ranges, with Primrose Lake in the deep valley ahead. Mt. Porsild is the pyramid peak right of center.|
|We stayed right when we should have gone left. Right got us onto steep, old moraine. Lots of loose gravel and boulders.|
|Most of the way down Primrose. We descended to the lake via the low valley on the left.|
|5 star campsite.|
We were up and at em early the next AM. Sunny skies and a warm South wind eased our anxiety about the upcoming river. The Primrose is class IV between Primrose lake and Rose lake, but the rapids aren't marked accurately. As we entered the river, we could see the river dropping away, with whitewater dancing on the horizon line. Bob and Theresa, my hardcore kayaking neighbors, had walked in with their hardshells the day before us. They had dragged their gear in, and here at the outlet, we saw their tracks for the first time.
|Looking downstream at the outlet.|
|Fun splashy class II on the upper reaches. The low water made things much more pack raft friendly than would otherwise be the case.|
|Prudence, I mean Dylan, showing good packraft sense.|
|Portaging packrafts is MUCH easier than dragging canoes or kayaks....|
|Dylan had a good background in canoeing, and he got into the swing of things pretty quickly.|
|Looking back at the last rapid we carried.|
Eventually the river slowed down and entered wetlands at the South end of Rose lake. We pulled over and had a lunch fire, and looked at the very fresh griz tracks.
|Nothing like fire to improve ones outlook.|
The long paddle down Rose lake beckoned. It;s about 16 km to the North end of Rose lake, with a short section of river dividing the lake at about halfway. We were all about the same in terms of our drive for paddling flatwater. Give 'er for an hour or so, then drift and chat for a while, then give 'er again. This got us down to the North end in if not record time, then in good time. It started to drizzle just as we found a nice camp site in Pines.
|The Place Beyond The Pines. We didn't see any sign of Ryan Gosling.|
|Heading into the wetlands with the kayakers on the beach behind Dylan.|
|Paul B won worst-dressed in his tarp-poncho.|
|Cool meadows away from the river.|
|Dropping down to the put-in below the class V canyon.|
|Looking upstream at the canyon.|
|External sources of heat are good.|
|Lots of fun class III.|
|In the lake.|
Great fun. I want to go back.