Icy Winter Paddle on North Alouette River

To extend my paddling season all year round, I bit the bullet and invested in a full dry suit last summer. Before this, I used a wet suit to paddle in the shoulder seasons, but a dry suit works better in serious cold because you can layer as much as you want underneath.

I got a chance to really put my winter paddling kit to the test.

An expert paddleboarder active on a few local paddling Facebook groups named Victor posted an open invitation for a winter paddle, and I jumped on the chance.

Before our trip, we found out that there’s going to be an overnight snow dump of 20cm. The snow altered our paddling destination a few times (Pitt Lake was too ambitious, Buntzen, Sasamat, and Belcarra were closed, and Rocky Point was too windy), and finally we settled on Alouette River.

The parking and launching information is the same as my last Alouette River paddle.

The sun was out and the air temperature was hovering around 2C. The river was just hovering around being frozen, so the water temperature must have been near 0 too.

Paddling on the North Alouette River with Victor and Findus

Victor’s famous adventure cat Findus (instagram) joined us for the paddle.

Snow covered the dykes on either side of the river and surrounding mountain ranges, and the sun shone through dramatic cloud formations, making our paddle quite the spectacle. There weren’t many walkers on the dykes, so the paddle was very serene.

Coudy with sunny breaks on Alouette River

We were captivated by sheets of folded slush in the river, formed by the slowly flowing water.

Sections of the river was fairly heavily covered by slush, but it hasn’t solidified so we were able to push through with minimal effort.

Our plan was to go as far as the abandoned film set on North Alouette River, but when we arrived at the Neaves Road Bridge, the upstream river looked entirely covered with slush. We decided to call it and turn around then.

Our return leg

A very welcomed bonus of paddling with a friend is ample photos of me paddling. Here’s a gratuitous serving of it:

We chatted about paddle touring/camping and other adventures. Victor had a wealth of knowledge and experience which I found fascinating and inspiring.

We launched around 10:50am and pulled out around 1:10pm. A short but very memorable 2-hour winter paddle with a new friend.

A note on gear for future reference: with 2 layers of wool shirt, polyester pants, skiing wool socks, and wading water shoes to protect the dry suit booties, I was positively toasty in my dry suit. And it’s by far more comfortable than paddling in a wet suit. My fingers got a bit chilly, but a pair of gloves quickly fixed that problem. In my dry bag, I had a change of clothes, some food, and extra water. My glasses were leashed, and the board was leashed to my waist.

For a well-researched paddle report on this beautiful river with his usual, thoughtful musings, check out Mon Jef’s blogpost on I SUP Explore.

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4 responses to “Icy Winter Paddle on North Alouette River”

  1. Looks like a fun paddle! I am out near there tomorrow and will attempt the river. Thanks for the info/details!

    • Have fun!
      The only risk on the river that day was hypothermia, but I know you have the proper gears for it 🙂
      It was a lot of fun meeting and paddling with Victor. We should go paddle together some day too!

      • Yes it looked like a brisk one 🥶! But super cool (pardon the pun) with the ice and slush. Victor’s cat was wild! I’m impressed that it is so calm on board (though I guess it wasn’t about to test the icy waters). For sure, let’s organize a paddle.

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