Canoe Leadership, Hart River
The Journey of River Tripping
With Jane Vincent and Jill Pangman
Join us in the heart of the Peel watershed to hone your river tripping skills. Gain the confidence and competence to plan your own remote river journeys in the years ahead. And savour this opportunity to learn skills whilst experiencing the sublime beauty of the Hart River valley.
Any trip down a remote river has it’s share of unknowns to try to plan for and challenges to be overcome. This can be intimidating to embark upon without a suite of trip leadership skills to draw upon. We look forward to collaboratively exploring leadership styles and strategies as we journey down Elliot Creek, the Hart River and the Peel River to the takeout at Canyon Creek. We have chosen this river due to the variety of conditions it presents.
The Hart river has incised a path through the western perimeter of the Wernecke Mountains and the eastern edge of the Ogilvies. It is one of seven main tributaries of the Peel River, which flows north into the Arctic Ocean via the Mackenzie River. The Hart is a class 2 river, with some class 3 sections, offering a variety of paddling conditions, from an abundance of tranquil waters, to fast flowing shallow stretches, braided channels, and a series of rapids formed by ledges of sedimentary rock.
Leadership skills will include trip planning, outfitting and packing canoes, strategies for descending creeks and varying sized rivers, navigating braided sections, negotiating rapids, scouting, and lining. In addition, risk management, group communication, camp set-up and menu planning/camp cooking are also essential skills needed for multi-day river travel. Paddle Canada course content will take your paddle strokes and manoeuvers, such as front and back ferries, to the next level. Rescues, whether real or simulated will contribute to participants’ confidence for future river trips.
We’ll also include some alpine hiking as the middle stretch of the Hart offers good access into the high country. We have time built into the trip to allow for two or three layover days to do some exploring on land and to have a break from the daily routine of packing and moving camp.
Skill Level (minimum)
|Class II Paddler|
(This is a sample itinerary. An exact one will depend on the length of the trip, as well as our floatplane access and egress schedule.
Pre-trip: a 2 day instructional session will be organized for trip participants (dates to be determined) to go over paddling skills, menu planning, clothing and equipment lists, and trip logistics.
Day 0: We may be needing to drive to Mayo (5 hours from Whitehorse) on the afternoon of August 6th to be ready for an early morning departure on the 7th. In this case we will camp at Alkan’s float plane base on the scenic Stewart River, just upstream from town.
Days 1-2: We are booked to fly out of Mayo on Day 1, weather pending of course, in one or more of Alkan’s aircraft – a Single Otter, a Cessna Caravan, and a de Havilland Beaver. There is no float plane access to the Hart River itself so we will be landing at Elliot Lake, 23 kilometers up Elliot Creek from the Hart River, and about half an hour flight from Mayo. We aim to start paddling shortly after we arrive and it will take us up to 2 full days to negotiate the shallow waters of Elliot Creek. There will be sections we can paddle and some that will need to be lined, even portaged (in dry years the Hart can even disappear underground for a stretch!) Our experience traveling down Elliot Creek will allow us to appreciate the “clear sailing” once we reach the Hart itself! The creek will allow us excellent opportunities to practice negotiating beaver dams, sweepers, potential log jams, tight corners and shallow fast waters.
Days 3 -12: Our day to day itinerary will vary depending on weather and water conditions. We will be weaving the instructional sessions throughout the journey, on both paddling and layover days. We aim to spend the bulk of our time in the mountain stretch of river, where the views and hiking possibilities are best. We intend to have 2 to 3 double overnight camps where we can enjoy some day-long hikes into the high country, where winding ridgelines offer outstanding views of the surrounding sea of peaks and valleys. The upper river varies between slow meanders, boulder gardens, fast moving braids, and beautiful tranquil stretches. There are a series of ledge rapids on the lower river after it leaves the mountains and enters the Peel Plateau. We’ll be traveling over 250 kilometers of river over these 10 days to the Hart’s confluence with the Peel. We’ll camp on an island on the Peel just below the confluence on day 12.
Day 13: We need to paddle 18 kilometres along the Peel to reach our pickup site at the mouth of Canyon Creek. It will be a full day negotiating a series of ledge rapids, of higher volume than the ones on the Hart due to the greatly increased volume of water coming in from both the Ogilvie and Blackstone Rivers, the two upstream tributaries of the Peel. All the rapids can be portaged or lined if necessary. We will be camping at the confluence of Canyon creek and the Peel , or oon an island just slightly upstream.
Day 14: We are scheduled to get picked up before midday and flown back to Mayo. It will take us about 2 hours, at first flying over the Peel River lowlands and then rising up and over the Werneckes, a range of jagged peaks, punctuated by stream and river valleys, and then finally over the Beaver and Stewart River lowlands on the final stretch back to Mayo. We aim to be back in Whitehorse by end of the day.
*This itinerary may change slightly due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.
- Transportation from Whitehorse to Mayo return (unless we organize to meet you in Mayo)
Air charters in and out of Mayo
- the services of one or two fully qualified guides (depending on group numbers)
- all river gear, including lifejackets and safety equipment
- all group equipment including cooking gear, first aid supplies and satellite phone; tents can be rented
- some meals (food responsibilities will be divided between group members)
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- transportation to and from your home and Whitehorse
- personal belongings as per clothing/equipment list
- any accommodation or meals in Whitehorse
(food responsibilities will be divided between group members)
Jane has been an outdoor professional educator for over 25 years, known for her leadership capacities in risk management, cross-cultural collaboration, instruction, and mentorship. She has taught guide training programs, as well as worked as lead guide on remote river trips. She has taught hundreds of Yukon youth through experiential school programs, and has been contracted by First Nations to provide instruction and leadership on canoe journeys. She is adept at teaching a progression of canoe skills so that her students can safely experience a river canoe journey. Over the years she has honed some effective strategies for delivering what can seem like a vast amount of information to adult learners who may feel out of their comfort zone. She sees herself as a facilitator bringing people to the water where they may then experience the teaching and healing power of the river.
For bio go to About the Owner.