If you saw a stand up paddle board (SUP) armada making its way down the Columbia River near Castlegar last Thursday, they were there because the waterway they were scheduled to be on was closed.
Andrea Ryman, of Endless Adventure based in the Crescent Valley, said she had no choice but to change the venue for the group after being unexpectedly displaced from the Slocan River after a jet fuel spill at lemon Creek on Friday, July 26.
“We’ve had to make some adjustments to our tours,” she said. “Its pretty devastating what’s been going on as far as the river goes and especially for the people living in the community.”
A number of people in Thursday’s group were from Manitoba and Ryman said at the time she and her co-owner husband, Chris, just wanted to offer clients as much as possible.
Tim Putnam from Winnipeg said it was the second year he has come to the Kootenays to enjoy the outdoors with Endless Adventure.
“The depth and quality of instruction and ratio of instructors to guests is unbelievable,” said Putnam.
Endless Adventure mostly offers instruction for whitewater kayaking, recreational kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding but also sell kayaks, canoes and paddle boards. They also started offering youth camps and run a free “Flat-water Social” from 5:30 – 7 p.m. Monday nights at the boat launch across from the Lion’s Head Pub in Robson. Kayaks and SUP boards are available for those eager to learn.
In a followup conversation Monday, August 5, Ryman said they have been told to “sit tight” for about two weeks until crews have a better sense of when they may be allowed back on the river.
“I’ve had a few people say, ‘Oh, we will just postpone and I’ll get on the river at the end of the summer’ and I’ve been telling people we shouldn’t think like that,” she said. “If you want to do something fun, let’s do it now because it’s possible we won’t be on the Slocan again this year.”
The Slocan River is currently under a “Vessel Operating Restriction” in order to protect workers and the public while efforts are made to contain and clean up about 30,000 litres of jet fuel that spilled from a tanker on Friday, July 26.
Additionally, a “Do Not Use” order issued by Interior Health for drinking water and recreational use for Lemon Creek, Slocan River and Kootenay River above and below Brilliant Dam, is still in effect.
Ryman said there are a lot of tourists coming into the area who have heard about the spill and are wondering what to do.
Now in their seventh summer, Endless Adventure has 12 staff in Canada and has also operated an all-inclusive kayak/surf vacation in Ecuador from November through February for the past five years. They employ anywhere from three to five guides, including at least two locals, while in Ecuador.
Between tours and instruction, Ryman estimates they probably have 500 clients locally per year including corporate and school outings.
“I’m trying to stay positive so we’ve partnered up with Boston Pizza and we’re doing a Two Can Raft and Dine for $139,” she said. “Jordan Perkins, the owner of the Castlegar Boston Pizza, has been really great to give us a bit of a break. The Columbia [river] doesn’t offer the same kind of excitement that the Slocan does but if we can throw in dinner with the package it definitely makes it more worthwhile.”
Endless Adventure is located at 1286 Highway 6 in Crescent Valley and can be reached by telephone at 250-359-8181, toll free at 1-877-FUN-8181, email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at www.endlessadventure.ca