Nahanni River Leadership
"Attention to detail is the sign of a professional."
These were the parting words of Tim Bird, assistant leader of the Marlborough College Nahanni River Expedition, and Antarctic and Himalayan Mountain Guide, as he boarded his floatplane for the Nahanni. Tim was not the first to compliment us on what we call our "personal touch philosophy". Since we began managing NWA in 1990, our signature position has been that each person who signs onto our trips deserves personal consideration to ensure for them the best possible experience. In addition, Nahanni Wilderness Adventures has been instrumental in leading the way with value-added features for our trips that continually improve the quality for our clients. We invite you to consider the following points as you select your outfitter.
- Our guide training is second to none - a five-day, on water comprehensive training program for seasoned and new Nahanni River guides is held each spring on the Kootenay and White Rivers in S.E. British Columbia.
- We include complimentary wetsuits for all our first class Nahanni and Northern River Canoe trips.
- We set the standard for the use of our famous "Cata-canoe or canyon rig" when required by high water or inexperience on the Nahanni. This practice has drastically reduced incidents on the lower river and is now followed by others.
- Emergency communications - each of our Northern trips is provided with an Iridium Satellite phone for communicating with the outside world in the case of an on trip emergency.
- We offer moving water workshops for clients from Western Canada and provide discount incentives for clients from other areas who participate in similar courses.
We provide the most complete list of all - inclusive standard personal and group camping equipment.
- Mountain Hardware Trango 3.1 Tents: Staked out, these four - season, threeperson tents will stand up to the most extreme weather we've ever seen on a summer trip in the North! We encourage just two people to share one, as this provides lots of space inside, not to mention the spaciousness of the vestibule.
- Convenient camp Roll-O-Tables and stools. Join us as we add some class, comfort and cleanliness to your in camp experience.
- All of our guests on first class trips are treated to a last night celebratory evening at a bed and breakfast.
- We initiated the use of water taxis to alleviate the monotony of slow water through the Nahanni's Splits for our raft groups.
- We have the highest guide:client ratio. Leave the crowds behind!
- Your entertaining guides will prepare your trip meals before your eyes upon the group fire each day. Our guests are continuously amazed at the outstanding variety and quality of meals prepared on our trips. The remoteness of our rivers does not deter our guides from providing nutritious and scrumptious edibles. Our menus are second to none in creativity and variety. Our specialties are salads and baked breakfasts and desserts, the items you might least expect on a remote river trip. There is no charge for vegetarian alternatives.
- Sierra Design's 3 season, "Wild Bill" sleeping bag and full-length "Therm-a-rest" sleeping pad. SD is a leader in wilderness sleeping systems and their sleeping bags are no exception! We realize not everyone that joins us in the North owns a personal sleeping bag and sleeping pad, so our economical rental program of $75/bag and pad will save you the purchase cost of $300-$400 for these two items. A sheet liner is also supplied.
Effective use of the Internet keeps our marketing and office overhead costs low. We have succeeded in maintaining trips fees that are considerably lower than the average for the Nahanni River amidst ever-rising operation costs. With NWA a greater percentage of your trip fee goes into providing the services you will receive directly on your trip.
- When you sign onto a NWA trip - there are no hidden charges.
- You will be surprised at our creative discount policies - and even the souvenir T-shirt - is still FREE.
- An NWA trip provides the greatest vacation value for your dollar. Each season we find new features, which make our trips more attractive.
- No extra costs for the choice of canoes on our 8 and 12 day raft trip dates.
- Our newest line of craft for the Nahanni River is the 'Aire Lynx 2' inflatable kayak. These craft are available on our raft trips. They will provide you the opportunity to explore on your own away from the mother ship for pictures and to enjoy the excitement and exercise found in paddling your own boat.
- We understand that what matters most to our guests is the planning and care that has gone into preparing and delivering their very own adventure holiday. Each season my family and I guide 12 or so Nahanni and Northern river trips with the help of 5 to 6 professional river guides. Our strength has been in maintaining a vibrant and manageable service that has become a 'work of art' with explicit attention to the details. We think you will appreciate this. "Good things still come in small packages". We invite you to see for yourself.
Yours for Adventure,
Canoe Paddles - Why Wood?
A Family Tradition . . .
I think it is most interesting that many of our Nahanni friends began their canoeing adventures at a time when wooden paddles and cedar canvas canoes were still the norm. The sounds, smell and look of these materials melded well with the lakes and rivers we explored with them in hand.
While in my early teens, my eldest sister used me as her bowman on rivers flowing into the east shore of Georgian Bay in Ontario. The summer I was 15, she advanced my role as her understudy by taking me out for 28 days on a trip from Honey Harbour to just east of Sault Ste. Marie. Prior to the trip, I hand-sanded and varnished a couple of our family's wooden canoe paddles. These became well-worn traveling companions on the long trip that followed. This trip perked my own enthusiasm for canoe tripping. Out of necessity I began - by trial and error - to teach myself the trade of making wooden canoe paddles. My favorite design for the tripping I was doing at the time was one that I had received from Omer Stringer at a CRCA instructor's course in 1978 . . . a paddle much like the 'Sagamore' which can be found in the Traditional Section of Grey Owl Paddle Ltd.'s website, www.greyowlpaddles.com . (Omer Stringer is a legendary canoe guide who was born on the shores of Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park. Active well into his later years, Omer blessed a number of us young "trippers" with his lifelong and proven canoeing methods.)
In the 30 odd years that have passed since, I began my own love affair with wooden paddles. Much has changed in the materials used to build both canoes and paddles. Fortunately purists have kept the wood tradition alive and wood canvas canoes are still available in specialty shops. The rigors of an outfitting program in the North has taken us to the ABS Royalex canoes made from molds of the same shape as the old timers did. The Esquif 'Prospecteur' is one example where the lines have been preserved.
In terms of paddles, most paddling shops have a reasonable supply to choose from; however, it has been my observation that most outfitters have neglected to provide these. Surprisingly, it took my then nine-year-old son Luke to bring this to my attention! Several springs ago, he and I set out on a long-weekend canoe trip through the Badlands of Alberta's Red Deer River. In packing, I grabbed a number of plastic, aluminum and wood canoe paddles out of the shop with a plan to size Luke with one once we arrived at the putin. At the river an old wooden paddle was Luke's first and only choice. He said he, "liked how it felt in his hands and how it moved in and out of the water." Interestingly enough, the paddle had come from an ash beam in my father-in law's dairy barn in the spring of 1980! My wife Wendy had used the same paddle on our honeymoon canoe trip in Newfoundland, and it had been in and out of the hands of family members ever since.
As Luke showed more and more satisfaction for his new-paddle, it dawned on me that most of the canoe guides and instructors I knew used wooden paddles. Why then, I had to ask myself, has the industry standard for the past 20 or more years for our guests been the cold aluminum and black plastic paddles made by Mohawk?
People come from around the world to experience Canada's North from a romantic canoe and we have been giving them a clumsy paddle to use. We are always looking for ways to increase the quality of our trips, so for many years we have made our mark by offering you a warm and personable wooden paddle to use on your trip. Our guides and I believe a wooden paddle will add meaning to your trip with us and help bring back your early days of canoeing. As for Luke, now in his fourth year of guiding on the Nahanni, his paddle of choice is a Grey Owl Marathon bent shaft.