Saturday, 23 July 2016

Tubing the Puntledge River in Courtenay, B.C.

by Keith and Heather Nicol

What a difference a year makes. The summer of 2015 was hot and dry and keeping cool was the name of the game. We discovered lots of places to swim and took up tubing since it seems to be an institution in Courtenay. Posts from last year describe some of the places to swim and tube along the Puntledge River  . The summer of 2016 however has been a whole new experience with cool temperatures and much cloudier conditions so the urge to swim and tube has not been as great. But we did get tubing on first hot day in quite awhile on Thursday July 21 and we had Heather’s sister Lisa visiting and she was keen to try it out. We put in just below the fish hatchery and pulled out at the Condensory Bridge. The water is certainly cooler than last year but on a hot day is a great way to spend a couple of hours.

Lisa paddling through the rapids
    Here is some information on the river for those wanting to try tubing and may not know what to expect. The section from Powerhouse Road to Puntledge Park is abit faster and rockier than the lower section from Puntledge Park to either the Condensory Bridge or Lewis Park. First timers or those with younger children may want to do just the lower section starting at Puntledge Park and we suggest the pull out at Condensory Bridge since the last part is very slow, especially if there is a high tide. For the upper section on Powerhouse Road drive to the fish hatchery gate and park your car along the road. Walk around the gate and down the road and part way down you will see a sign pointing to “Tubers Trail” and take that to the put in. This trail is abit steep in places and there is a rope to help you down the last section.  We use a kayak paddle to help steer and manoeuvre but most people don’t use one.  We also use kayak booties since you may need to push off a rock or get out of your tube and this footware makes it easier to walk on the rocky river bed. Also remember “bums up” in the rapids since the river is low at this time. We also use tubes with a mesh bottom and put a life jacket in the bottom. This gives a good amount of paddling since you will inevitably hit bottom a few times and this will save your bum and lower back from striking rocks in the river.
Lisa relaxing on the lower section just before the Condensory Bridge

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