Last night I got to live like a Voyageur! Well, without the whole eating-the-same-thing-for-years-at-a-time, or the back-breaking-hard-work-of-carrying-canoes-and-animal-pelts things. But you know, exactly like a voyageur other than those small factors 😉
But in all seriousness, what I got to do was go on a Voyageur Canoe Tour with Kananaskis Outfitters. I very rarely get to be the guest on tours, especially with the company that I work for. But last night was a very special treat.
The Voyageur Canoe at Kananaskis Outfitters is 25 foot long canoe that seats 10 people (and a dog!). The guide steers from the back and all the guests need to do is paddle forward or backwards.
The tour started out with a brief dry land session where Tiffany, our guide, showed everyone the proper way to hold the paddles and the basics of paddling. We then all climbed into the canoe and pushed off into Barrier Lake. Once on the lake, we practiced paddling forward and backwards, turning the boat in place (one side paddles forward, one side paddles backwards) and paddling as fast and hard as could (we got up to 7.5 km/h) all while the guide talked to us about the life of a voyageur. At about the halfway point across the lake, our guide broke into song (in french!) to demonstrate how the voyageurs would sing to keep the crew paddling in sync.
We paddled from the Barrier Lake Day Use area across and up the lake to Jewel Bay. The sun was drifting down and the golden light on the mountains around us was absolutely breathtaking. After paddling across the lake, it felt like our group had known each other forever. We were laughing and joking as we relaxed on the beach at Jewel Bay and took in our surroundings. Jewel Bay is a great place to relax; there are no cars and few people, so you are surrounded by bird calls and the gentle sound of the breeze in the trembling aspen.
We relaxed on the beach for about 20 mins and then it was time to head back. The paddle back was upbeat and relaxed, the water had almost no waves and was beautifully calm. Time flew on the trip, and before we knew we were landing on the sandy beach at Barrier Day Use Area again. The sun was setting and the clouds were spectacular shades of pink and gold. Mountain sunsets are definitely the best sunsets.
Would I recommend this tour? Absolutely. Its a great way to get a larger group of people in a canoe (10 people vs the 3 you can fit in a regular canoe) and a nice, relaxing way to paddle. You will also learn a lot about the incredible explorers and adventurers who traveled on the original Canadian highway system: our lakes and rivers. The voyageur time period is a fascinating one, where the spirit of adventure was truly alive and well. If you enjoyed the movie The Revenant, this tour is a pretty incredible way to experience that time period in full modern day comfort. ***Bonus: The Revenant was filmed out in Kananaskis, so you might recognize some of the scenery!***
More information on this tour can be found at www.kananaskisoutfitters.com