Trip Stats:

  • Paddling days to date:  18
  • Rest & resupply days to date:  2
  • Estimated distance traveled this season:  282 km UP the Fraser River
  • Favorite pieces of gear:
  • Filson Double Tin Bib Pants – kept us warm and dry and spark resistant!
  • # of fish caught by Geoff = 0
  • $ spent on fishing license = $50
  • # of digital video cameras taking a dip in the Fraser River = 1
    (it took a week to completely dry out and is now working fine)
  • # of fishing rods lost in Fraser = 1
  • # days of snow = 2
  • # paddles broken while paddling Fraser by Geoff = 2 + 1 (cracked)
  • # paddles broken by Pam = 0
  • # of showers taken since season began = 3…aren’t you glad the photos aren’t scratch and sniff?!?!

n9_penny_web n9_fraser snow_web

We arrived in Penny to find the river ¾ frozen across. We had to wait another week for it to open up enough for us to paddle it safely. When we left, the banks were still covered in ice, but we could get on shore easily.

n9_log jam_web

There are many log jams that accumulate at higher water. They are particularly common at the top of islands. We go out of our way to avoid them because the current can sweep you under them.

n9_lining2_web n9_lining1_web

When the current is fast and/or shallow it is very difficult to make any headway. That is when we use ropes to move the canoe up the river in the current. On a nice gravel shoreline, it is relatively easy. On shores with large rocks or snow banks, it is more challenging, particularly when we need to maneuver around rocks and boulders in the current.


Taq won’t sleep in the canoe. Whenever we stop on shore for an extended break, he’ll lie down. It must be exhausting for him to sit all day without any naps. I must be honest, he doesn’t get much sympathy from us.


Our lunch generally consists of jerky, cheese, bannock, and Taq begging.

n9_campsite1_web n9_campsite3_web n9_campsite2_web

Our campsites on the Fraser generally consist of sand and/or gravel bars. Beside the fire, Geoff is doing dishes while I update the journal.

Geoff is making corn pancakes for breakfast – my favourite.

Once it warmed up during the day, the river was rising almost a foot each day. We tied the canoe to the tent to be sure it didn’t go anywhere during the night. Taq is guarding our stuff through his eyelids.


We’ve finished paddling 488 km up the Fraser! Geoff is popping the champagne that Wendy brought to celebrate.

Thank you!


  • Gary & Sharon Hockin for having us as guests in their home, baking Geoff a cake for his birthday, and giving us trip treats like jerky and a “fast eddy flashlight” (works well!)
  • Roberta for providing us with Blackberry port, homemade cookies and dog treats.  We stretched it out as long as we could!
  • Barb Osten for helping us make contacts with people in Mcbride


  • Jack Boudreau for taking the time to meet with us, give us treasured old photos, a signed copy of his book, and share wonderful stories about the area.


  • Stephen & Faellen Brandner for having us as guests and taking us to Longworth to see their camp


  • Jenna & Matt Buch for having us as guests, fixing the fence after Taq broke out, sending us with leftover chile and helping us ferry our gear to the put-in.


  • Clarence & Olga Boudreau for having us over for dinner, teaching us to play circle rummy and helping us figure out the many brain-teasers in their collection!

n9_dome creek_web

  • James Scholtz and Lyn Smith for having us as guests and giving us a tour of Dome Creek.


  • Guy & Page Norton for having us as guests – our first shower this paddling season.


  • Mark Tadgell & Linda Charlie for making us hot chocolate while we passed by near the Goat River


  • Rick Thompson & Carol Hammar for having us as guests – our second and third showers were at their home.  They were very polite and said they didn’t smell a thing when we walked in!  Thank you for the Kokanee and Chocolate Orange Port.  Mmm
  • June Vandermark for offering to help us out in Mcbride and for keeping an eye out for us.  We’re sorry we missed meeting you.


  • Staff of the Terracana Resort for giving us a much needed roll of toilet paper – sligh miscalculation on our part.  We were down to under 20 squares…

n9_mckirdy and crew_web

  • Brian McKirdy, Art Carson, Rene Nunweiler, Janey Weeks, Barb & Ian Wolsey – a crew in 3 canoes that stopped to visit as they paddled down the Fraser.  Thank you for the encouragement, fresh tomatoes, avacodo, Doritos and beer.  Too bad we hadn’t been camped in the same area the night before – it would have been a lot of fun!


  • Wendy Wheatley (Pam’s sister) for meeting us at Tete Jaune Cache with a big cheer, fresh fruit and a bottle of champagne to celebrate our completion of the 488 km climb of the Fraser River.  Also, for having us as guests to resupply, rest and play Rock Band.

Where do we go from here?

Our next leg of the journey is to portage 30 km from Tete Jaune Cache, through Valemount to Canoe Reach on Kinbasket Lake.  This is where Taq will earn his 5-6 cups of kibble per day.  We will harness him to the canoe (it will be on a cart with wheels) and he will help us pull.

We will paddle about 200 km on Kinbasket Lake, 100 km up the Columbia River, portage 100 km over the Rocky Mountains into the Bow River and cruise with the current to Calgary.

Sounds easy….right?

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2 Responses to Newsletter #9 Penny to Tete Jaune Cache, BC Fraser River April 28 – May 17, 2008

  1. Guido says:

    Hello Canoeists,

    i am a Kayak Guy from Germany and i intend to paddle the fraser probably from Mcbride or tet Jaune to vancouver. Now i am collecting Informations about this part. Can you support with some informations about rapids and other problems we better avoid? When is the best time to paddle the Fraser?

    thanks from Germany

    • The MacDonalds says:

      Hello Guido,

      We paddled up the Fraser R. from Prince George to Tete Jaune Cache in October, then came back to finish it in May. There were plenty of gravel bars to camp on and the train running along beside the river was a constant companion. Wildlife is probably the biggest challenge, as there are many bears and moose along the river.

      There were a few small rapids, however, the only one that required portaging was the upper canyon (called the Grand Canyon) located about 115 km upstream of Prince George (or just downstream of Penny, BC.) We have not paddled downstream from Prince George to Vancouver, but we have read that there are a number of canyons – the largest being called Hells Gate. We would suggest you search the internet for others who have experience on that leg of the river.

      The upper Fraser river is one of our favourite places on our cross Canada trip…enjoy!

      Pam and Geoff

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