The Hinton area has seen a lot of developments over the past number of years to help connect residents with its signature waterway.
The establishment of the Athabasca Riverfront Park in Hinton has been followed by creation of a new staging area at Solomon Creek near Brule. Paddling enthusiast Rick Zroback says that the result is a safe and reliable access to the river that will be showcased with a June 8 event called Discover Your River.
“Let me tell you, we have come a long way and it’s time to show people what’s there and what we have access to now,” said Zroback, who’s been integral in past river events like the 2011 and 2017 voyageur canoe brigades.
“The Athabasca is a big part of our history … it was our first super highway before we had highways.”
The paddle from the Solomon Creek launch to the riverfront park is around 17 kilometres and will take around two hours, says Zroback.
It is a family oriented, non- mechanized event that is putting a premium on safe participation, with an 18-point list of guidelines. Zroback said there will also be an orientation session and a waiver to sign ahead of time.
“It’s not a highly technical river, but we are going to be watching water conditions leading up to the event to make sure it is safe for everyone,” Zroback said.
“We are hoping to have out some people who are new to paddling and new to the river and we want to make sure that we have fun and feels safe.”
Zroback says people are invited to use their own suitable watercraft like kayaks and canoes, but at least one person in each craft should have some experience in moving water.
Zroback says there are also some limited spaces available in some rafts and voyageur canoes.
The event is being organized by a group of volunteers that includes Zroback with some support from both the Town of Hinton and Yellowhead County.
“Both municipalities have been great. We have a really energetic group,” said Zroback.
The paddle itself will be followed by a celebration at Athabasca Riverfront Park that will include food and entertainment and hopefully introduce new people to the park itself.
“You don’t need to be registered to come to the park afterward,” said Zroback.
“We want to remind people about what we have and we don’t want to show it off just for the paddlers!”
Registration is recommended prior to the paddle. People looking for a link to the registration page, or who want to learn more about the event can visit www.facebook.com/ AlbertaAthabascaRiver/.