Tom takes the oars and gets to feel like he is the guide during a float trip on the Babine and Skeena Rivers. (Contributed photo)

Tom takes the oars and gets to feel like he is the guide during a float trip on the Babine and Skeena Rivers. (Contributed photo)

Running the Babine and Skeena Rivers to Hazelton: Part 2

Tom wraps up his recollection of a ‘trip of a lifetime and all in our backyard’

It’s a rare day on a Wednesday that I can get Part 2 to follow Part 1, but it is happening.

So, we were able to continue our excursion on this very special waterway, the Babine River. It was time for bigger water and we all shared the excitement. Paddling in the bow meant two things. First, you are going to get wet and second, you have to get your paddle into the wave to help keep the raft moving forward. Stern paddlers can lay back a bit and just ride the waves, kinda like a rodeo ride though I have never ridden a bull.

If the guide considers that we are becoming the weak links, we will be politely asked to change to the rear seats. Whatever, as long as we come out of this alive.

The next section of the river presented some awesome class 3 and that occasional class 4 as I had mentioned. My wife and I were forward as we rose up between six and eight feet and I managed to give her a look like, are we going to make this or not?

She had a similar facial expression as we came down that six- or eight-foot return wave. Wow, what a ride and we made it to boot. There were times along this river that I had to almost pinch myself to remind myself that I was here in the moment and it was real.

Our next pull-out was river left at Gail creek. The guides had discovered some fossils up the creek under a very cool rock formation. It felt good to hike a bit and get some exercise for my gluteus maximus (the rear end) as it was tiring out from sitting.

Back to the raft and on to our next campsite. A beautiful spot just below a sheer cliff with a neat waterfall to play in. Turns out this site, called Slide Camp, was the location of an interesting natural phenomenon.

It seems, back in the year 1950/51 to be exact, the mountain fell into the river and completely closed off the salmon migration. Would you believe that this slide was the reason the Salmon River road was hastily constructed over the winter so a dredge could be trucked in?

The dredge was set and in operation for the next year to remove this mountain and pile it back on the opposite side of the river. We were able to climb the hill to the original road and continue up to the top of the piles. Looks like quite an amazing feat back in the day to save the salmon.

The next day, we reached the confluence with the Skeena, a spot I have wanted to see for years. It just feels good, not to necessarily check it off a list but just to be there.

We had been skirting Mount Tomlinson for a day now and as we continued south, we were given several more beautiful views. Once on the Skeena, you could get the feeling we were done but no, this Skeena river has lots of rapids and challenging water to keep you in the game.

Every rough section, I would think of Ali Howard, the woman who swam the Skeena. Wow, that must have been an amazing feat. We passed several rock outcrops in the river and I lobbied to have one named Roper Rock to no avail as they were already claimed.

Next stop, Kispiox Village and lunch with the totems. This is a neat place to visit and is accessible to the Kispiox confluence.

We could now feel our adventure was soon coming to an end. The ladies from Toronto had jumped in the river and were floating beside the raft. Len, the guide, gave me the oars and I could pretend to be the guide as we approached Hazelton by water.

There was sort of a historic feeling floating this magnificent river with our competent crew.

A trip of a lifetime and all in our backyard.