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Fraser River & the Giscome Portage to Summit Lake

The mighty Fraser River. Upriver paddling for 60 kilometers followed by the famous Giscome Portage, a 13.5kilometer portage from the Fur Trade era than linked the Pacific and the Artic watersheds by way of the Artic Divide and Summit Lake.

After a frantic morning of packing and reorganizing my gear, I was back on the water at 12:48 PM, at the same spot I took out two night ago. Joining me for the first several hours would be Ian and Debbie, Faye, Phil and Chris Cupp (last years Canadian C1 marathon canoe champion), all paddling in solo racing canoes Back in the ’80’s, Faye and John Hallett canoes across Canada from Rocky Mountain House Alberta to Montreal!. I was in good company, no doubt about that.

The current on the Fraser started out fast but manageable. We hugged the riverbank, taking advantage of the slower water and jumping in every eddy we could see, an important aspect of upriver paddling. Jump in the eddy’s and get a free ride. Some of the bigger eddies were a couple hundred meters long, it was a huge help. The Fraser is a big, powerfull river and full of spectacular scenery, lots of varied wildlife, a mixed forest wityh some huge trees, certainly a very scenic river. My fellow paddlers turned back after about 3 hours and I continued on once again on my own, paddling on for another 4 hours or so and camping out on a nice little beach just about the antive reserve of Shelley. The last few kilometers had considerably stronger current and I was certainly working hard to make any kind of real progress. The payoff was after setting up camp though as I relaxed around a campfire and enjoyed a couple of refreshing beer along with some varied snacks picked upin Prince George.I stayed up until past midnight tonight, sitting by the fire, the campers TV, contemplating the trip and admiring the star filled night sky.

The next day turned into a 12 hour push with very few breaks as I fought ever stronger currents as I tried to reach the trailhead for the Giscome Portage at the Hubble Homestead. Some of my friends from yesterday would be meeting me there to accompany me on the portage and we were scheduled to begin the portage at 10:00 AM. Well, after extensive linintg the canoe through fast water and some very tough paddling, i came up well short, setting up camp in the dark on a small beach where I had a quick supper by the light of my Petzl headlamp before falling into a deep sleep.

I figured I was only about 90 minutes from the portage so I left at 7:50 AM the next day. Well…not even close! It took another 4 hours of very hard work, combining paddling and lots of lining to make my way to our rendezvous. I arrived at noon with my friends, Debbie, Faye and John all patiently waiting for me beside the river.

After loading the canoe onto the portage cart and then having a quick lunch (compliments of my friends), Debbie and I began the portage, John and Faye meeting us at the end of the trail near Summit Lake. The portage trail was wide but in rough condition and it took some serious work to get the canoe through. Several largetreesblocked the trail in places which only added to the fun! We pushed on however and made it through in about 4 hours, taking photographs at the “Artic Divide” sign, a major landmark of my route…this is where I left behind the Pacific watershed and entered the Artic watershed, starting with Summit Lake and the Crooked River. I camped tonight on the lake and enjoyed more fine foods that my firneds ahd provided me with. Many, many thanks to my group of Prince George wo made this hard push up the Fraser and over the Giscome Portage into an amazingly great 3 days. It would not have been the same without you all! Thanks also for the “surprise” you snuck into my drybag at the end of the portage before we parted company, I was truly touched! Thank you!

Tomorrow I’ll paddle off of the lake and enter into the Crooked River which will take me through to Macleod Lake, the Pack River and then Williston Lake fro a 230 kilometer paddle to the WAC Bennett Dam, Dinasaur Lake, the Peace Canyon Dam and finally the portage into Hudson’s Hope and my second resupply point 8 days from now. More on that later.

So far, the trip has been amazing. Tougher than expected at times. The Fraser was a long, tough paddle, the portage had some difficult sections but overall, it is turning out to be the most amazing trip of my life….and I’ve only just begun! Stay tuned for more!

Cheers…Joe O’Blenis