Sunday, August 23, 2009

Floating Down The Pembina

Last summer I had a blast floating down the Elbow River in Calgary.

Yesterday I had even more fun floating down the Pembina River!

Saturday morning, three friends and I packed up my car and headed west to Entwistle (about an hour out of Edmonton). Though I browsed their website, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Pembina River Tubing, a local company that operates tubing tours. After only one wrong turn, we quickly found the small collection of sheds that were obviously PRT headquarters (Entwistle is a super small town, so you could see the tubing company pretty much as soon as you turned off the highway).

We signed a waver, paid $20 for a tube/life jacket each (plus $2 for tube ties, definitely a must for groups) and then enjoyed a wonderful picnic while waiting for our turn on the shuttle. About an hour (and two missed shuttles because us girls were being slow pokes) later the van pulled up, our tubes were loaded and we hoped into the shuttle. The shuttle stops twice, once up river for the long ride (3-3.5 hours of floating fun), and once closer to town for the short ride (2-2.5 hours: we opted for the short ride, which did take about 2.5 hours).

We then hiked along the gorge to the river. I never knew the Pembina River was a gorge, nor did they tell us how long the hike would take. Have you ever hiked down a gorge carrying a large inflated tube? It was super pretty, but quite an unexpected part of the trip. Unfortunately, the mosquitos were biting pretty good in the bush, and today my ankles are swollen twice their normal size because I am apparently allergic to mosquito bites. Lovely.


View of the gorge from our hike

Eventually we reached the river. We distributed our gear (snacks, water bottles, life jackets, and my stupidly annoying camera in a baggie), tied our rafts together and set off. It was super fun! We spent the next 2.5 hours leisurely drifting down the river, sometimes running over small rapids, sometimes getting stuck on rocks when the river was too shallow, sometimes running into the shore, but mostly just snacking and chatting. Good times...

The two bridges

A train running over the 100 yr old bridge

Another view of the gorge

Four of us were able to tie our tubes into a diamond shape. Back rests and a cooler would've been welcome additions!

My feet, trying to avoid the rocks!

Floating past the beach

After we floated past the provincial park beach, we spotted the PRT sign and left the river. The shuttle picked us up again and drove the short distance back to town. We changed into dry clothes, and headed back to Edmonton. I'm quite sad that it's the end of summer and we wont have time to go again, but I'm sure we'll make it out to Entwistle more than once next summer!

How do you follow up a perfect day of river tubing? By sitting around a fire, roasting hot dogs, and making smores of course! My friends also demonstrated their awesome poi skills, which I'd never seen before so it was pretty neat. You can read more about poi how they got into it here.


Gosh it was a great day. I can't wait until next summer!

3 comments:

  1. almost died due to this shady company, sign to exit not visible, not told to have proper shoes and paddles, very close to dying as was deserted overnight in the forest

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  2. Oh dear, I'm sorry to hear you didn't have a good experience. We were able to see the sign, and they told us there was a campground there plus there were a bunch of tubers waiting there so we knew where to get off.

    We also found that we would've like shoes for the hike down the gorge, but flip flops were ok as it wasn't that long down. When I went the river was very low so we didn't need paddles at all - if we had to we just waded in the river as it rarely came past our knees.

    I hope you've made your concerns known to the management. I would be interested to hear what action they took after you notified them.

    Again, sorry you had such a bad experience. Everyone I've talked to has enjoyed their trip down the Pembina.

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  3. thank u for ur concern. We saw no signs, werent told of any campground, just handdrawn joke map and told pass 3 bridges then pilar stay to right of pilar then get off where garbage cans. No pilar or cans seen. Two of us were looking the whole time. Few people out, they knew we were novices and probably last ones out. Flip flops broke, i was barefoot overnite. Found large sticks to paddle that helped us or wouldve been worse maybe. Concerns made known thru fb and telephone msgs and no reply or apology. Thx again for ur kind words and concern.

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