'Go somewhere else': River too fast for Edmonton paddling enthusiasts

Rainy summer has set North Saskatchewan river running at about double the speed for this time of year.

North Saskatchewan River too high to enjoy safely, expert says

Paddlers floated by Hawerlak Park as they enjoyed the Ceyana Canoe Club's "Liver on the River" in August 2018. (Submitted by Mark Lund)

Looking for tips on how to enjoy paddling the North Saskatchewan River right now?

Mark Lund's advice is simple: don't do it.

"The best thing is to go somewhere else," Lund, an avid paddler and author of Mark's Guide for Alberta Paddlers, said in an interview Monday on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "The river's too high."

We've been enduring a lot of rain this summer, but it looks like sunny days are ahead. We'll hear from paddling expert Mark Lund about how to get out and enjoy the North Saskatchewan. 7:24

The North Saskatchewan has been flowing at about double the typical speed for this time of year after a rainy start to summer, Lund said. But with better weather on the horizon, there are still some great river paddling opportunities ahead.

"Everything is high," said Lund. "I was just up paddling the Sturgeon River yesterday and the dock at the outlet of Big Lake is about six inches under water."

All streams get more dangerous as water levels rise, said Lund.

"That's one of the reasons we went to the Sturgeon because that stretch through St. Albert is quite flat. And yeah it's high but it wasn't flowing very fast."  

Warmer days ahead

Saturday and Sunday marked the first two days in a row without rain in 35 days, Environment Canada senior climatologist Dave Phillips told Edmonton AM on Monday.

"It really has been one of the longest stretches of weather misery that Edmontonians have had to put up with," Phillips said. "It was just the day after day and it stretched into week after week."

Is the sun here to stay? Climatologist Dave Phillips will tell us what the forecast has in store for Edmonton. 4:00

Edmonton, St. Albert, Sherwood Park and much of the rest of northern Alberta were under heat warnings Monday. Temperatures in the city are expected to cool off mid-week, but warmer temperatures are around the corner, Phillips said.

"We still have the dog days of summer to come."

Paddling opportunities

Before taking to the water, Lund suggests would-be paddlers take advantage of educational programs, such as the City of Edmonton's river valley programs and local groups such as the Ceyana Canoe Club, which offer training to the public.

"Some formal instruction is most worthwhile," said Lund. "And of course, the proper equipment."

The Epcor RiverFest, taking place this year on Aug. 10 at Laurier Park along the banks of the river, aims to put thousands of people on the water each year. 

"And those people, I think many of them are coming back and continuing to paddle because the river is a unique and very pleasant way to see the [city]," said Lund.

Also this summer, the Alberta Masters Games will be taking place Aug. 22- 25 in Rocky Mountain House and Clearwater County, with paddling and canoeing races among the events.

About the Author

Thandiwe Konguavi


Thandiwe Konguavi is an award-winning journalist, born in Zimbabwe. She is a reporter/editor at CBC Edmonton. Reach her at thandiwe.konguavi@cbc.ca. Follow her on Twitter @cbcthandiwe.

With files from Emily Rendell-Watson and Sheena Rossiter


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