Two-day Kumsheen rafting adventure on the Thompson River
Our first stop below Spences Bridge provided the opportunity to walk a short distance inland to Mud Lake– a small water body kept brown from the constant infusion of silt from the overshadowing clay cliffs. Here, a Lewis’s Woodpecker maintained a presence near a cavity in a cottonwood which was no doubt a potential or existing nest site.
One of my favorite stops enroute was the delta of Skoonka Creek.
Native peoples had a trail up this valley which may now be overgrown, but nonetheless, the stop at the mouth is rich in tree and shrub growth. In a short time, I was able to find virtually all of the common trees and shrubs that grow in the Thompson Valley within 100 metres of putting ashore. From dryland species like sage and rabbitbrush through damper site conifers and cottonwood, choke cherry and others, it was a botanist's delight. Snake lovers will enjoy the opportunity to spot a rattlesnake as some of our group did while hiking up the creek.
This is a place to get up close and friendly, but not too close, if you are keen on train spotting.
After some terrestrial explorations, we bobbed our way downstream for a while, enjoying more flocks of mergansers and some Harlequin Ducks which were a treat along the big river. The rapids provided a pleasant ride in their sub-peak flow conditions.
We worked our way down to Nicomen Creek where we hiked up to the facilities operated by Kumsheen for a bathroom break and lunch. We had an opportunity to view the lower falls and catch a few photos of the stream in full flood. An American Dipper foraged along the stream and likely was nesting somewhere near the falls.
Then it was back to the rafts for a quicker trip down the splashier portions of the river. It was after this that the rainsuits became even handier and cameras went into the dry bags for a while. The Frog is the first major rapid to be encountered and anyone who has driven the Thompson Canyon will recognize this famous landmark. It provides a fun ride even at relatively low water when we ran it.
Below the Frog, the river continues through a series of smooth and then frothy stretches.
And then you enter the dreaded Jaws of Death – a series of 7 rapids if you care to count. But have no fear, the ride is fun and you will come out alive. Waterproof cameras are a must if you want instream action shots. Eagles perch ominously on tall bankside trees but there were no vultures on this portion of the ride – yet.
And then it is on to the spectacular canyon below Skihist Provincial Parkand the Kumsheen Lodge. The amphibolite banded gneissic rocks are amazing and mesmerizing to watch from river level. Sadly, my camera is not waterproof so I had to be content with shots from above.
And before long, you drift under the tall bridges at Lytton and the adventure is over – much too soon. A short ride back to the lodge for a shower and change to dry clothes or perhaps a dip in the pool, a wander around the grounds for a final few farewells or another fine meal in the Cutting Board restaurant.
All in all, you won’t regret a second of a trip like this to look at a special part of the BC interior. While these folks may appear a bit on the intent side, I can assure you that they were just trying to take it all in because there is so much packed into two days, you will need a good waterproof notebook to remember it all.
I encourage you to sign up for a trip this summer. It will be memorable.