Orlando Bingles’ Rocky Mountain High: Day 13

by Bingle on May.31, 2009, under Richard Bingle Family

As we had a day still left in Jasper, Rich and Karen decided to see if we could go rafting for a second time on this trip. Rich and Karen had taken a white water raft trip down the Athabasca River back in 1989 when they drove to Alaska with Rich’s Dad and Karen’s sister. Karen researched our options without letting on to the girls what we were planning. We ended up deciding to go with Jasper’s Whitewater Rafting and trying to book their 9:00 a.m. Athabasca Falls trip (which is what we had done in 1989). Unfortunately, we were not able to get anyone on the phone before 9:00 a.m. despite leaving voicemail. So we drove down the street and found their storefront. One of the owners, Eddie, informed us that since they were still training their guides for the season, that the Falls trip wasn’t being offered yet. When we mentioned that there were 5 of us (a raft holds 6), he made a phone call and got someone with experience to be our guide. It turned out that our guide, Ron, was another owner and co-founder of the company.

We had a little time before our raft trip was to depart, so we drove down Highway 16 towards Edmonton for about 15 minutes enjoying the scenery and looking for animals before turning around and heading back. On the way back towards Jasper, a coyote crossed the road in front us (the third canine to do so on the trip). We stopped right away, but he disappeared into the woods almost immediately.

We left Jasper at 10:30 a.m. and drove to Athabasca Falls. By talking with Eddie and Ron along the way, we confirmed that this was the same company that we had rafted with back in 1989. After gearing up in wetsuits, jackets, and booties, we carried the raft down to the edge of the river below the falls to an area we had pointed out to the girls from an overlook when we had visited the day before, and got ready to go. Eddie hustled down river a ways to take some photos. We started out paddling towards the falls, but the water volume was way too high to get anywhere near them (but apparently would have been possible just a week prior) and we were off.

Ron had been working the river for 38 years, and his experience was obvious. He didn’t use oars like the guides on our last two trips, but rather relied on us to provide momentum and used his paddle as a rudder. This meant that we paddled a whole lot more on this trip than our other two family rafting trips combined. Along the way he gave Karen lessons on how to “read the water”, i.e. which waves were ok to go over and which ones meant there was a rock just below the surface.

The scenery was spectacular. Mountain views were everywhere. We really wished we had a waterproof camera, especially when we briefly stopped in the eddy of a large boulder at the edge of the river and Ashley and Amber scrambled to the top while we floated about 10 feed downriver from them. They had a great view of the river and a mountain in the distance and we had a great view of them above us with the mountain in the background.

Nobody fell in this time, although Karen, Ashley, and Amber all braved the 38F water for a brief voluntary dip. Rich and Alyssa were smarter and only dipped their feet. All 3 “swimmers” claimed that it was much colder than the Yellowstone River had been.

Right before our trip was to end, we all spotted a fawn enter the river and start to swim across. It didn’t get very far before it decided to turn around and head back to shore. It scrambled up the bank and disappeared into the woods. We never did see its mother. Our first fawn sighting of the trip was a unique one.


When we landed and got back on the bus, Eddie had left a laptop with 17 pictures of us running in a slideshow. Rich was blocking the view of Amber in most of the shots (but that is only fair as he also blocked a fair amount of water from hitting Amber during the trip), but it was great to actually have photos of us actually rafting for a change. Check out the album by clicking on the picture to the left!

Patricia Lake

After taking the bus back to town, changing into warm dry clothes, grabbing a bite of lunch, we headed back out in the van. We drove a ways down Highway 16 the other way, but didn’t see much of interest, so turned back and drove up to Patricia Lake and Pyramid Lake. Both were very pretty. The girls were especially interested to find out that Patricia Lake had been the site of a ice boat experiment as part of Pproject Habbakuk back during WWII (they had learned about Project Habbakuk, ice boats, and Pykrete from a Mythbusters’ episode right before we left on our trip). We took a short walk over a footbridge to Pyramid Island. The wind kicked up quite a bit when we crossed the bridge, so we didn’t spend too long there (although the girls all took the opportunity to stick their fingers in the water when they were sheltered from the wind by the trees on the island).

We got back to our hotel around 6:15 p.m. and spent about 45 minutes in the indoor pool playing freeze tag. We finished off the day with dinner and cards in the room.

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