Why is it, as tourists, we comfortably explore on foot yet stand at the water’s edge, snapping photos of its beauty and barely step beyond the shoreline?  Perhaps we often think the water is only for the nautically experienced or those with their own crafts?  What we don’t realize is there is so much to be missed by not taking on the available aqua-adventures. The pristine waters of Revelstoke’s easily accessible lakes and rivers set the backdrop for stunning views of the surrounding Columbia Mountains right from town.  The real enjoyment, however, lies in the many water activities the area has to offer including white-water raftingpaddle boarding and kayaking in Revelstoke.  I got my first taste of Revelstoke’s stunning waterways when I hooked up with local kayak guides, Terry and Wenche, who recently took me out for a relaxing and unforgettable experience on a hot, sunny afternoon.

Standing on the shore of Upper Arrow Lake looking across at Mt. Begbie – the water is calling!  Photo:  Sarah Windsor

View of Mount Begbie while Kayaking in Revelstoke
Handmade Wooden Kayaks

The Story behind the Kayaks

One of the water adventures offered through Everything Revelstoke, this friendly outfitter was easy-going from the start.  Terry and Wenche Beitel have been ‘floating their boats’ on Revelstoke’s waters for 15 years with their own, hand-made fleet of wooden kayaks.  When I arrived, part of the fleet was racked up on the trailer, as a group of 15 had gone out earlier that day, and I was pleasantly surprised to find impressive, modern vessels instead of rustic, hollowed-out trees I had somehow pictured.  Upon closer inspection, I noticed each kayak had a name: Valkyrie, Alfheim, Viking Queen, etc.  All of which were inspired by Wenche’s Norwegian heritage.  Built with Terry’s passion for the water and named with his quirky but fun sense of humour, each given name has a meaning – be sure to ask Terry about the one named “Ormen Lange”, guys will get a kick out of that one.

I got to enjoy the sturdy, double kayak named Valkyrie for an afternoon Kayaking in Revelstoke. Photo: Sarah Windsor

Getting Comfortable in the Kayak

Terry’s humour and fun nature carried through from the land-training to the water and it put me at ease being a novice kayaker.  I had joined a semi-private group that, for the most part, were also a novice and included a mature, Californian couple who had booked through Everything Revelstoke as well.  This was Diane and Tony’s first time in Revelstoke and I was pleased to hear they had discovered Terry and Wenche’s tours – something they may not have known about if they hadn’t connected with Everything Revelstoke.

The on-land instructions were easy to follow and in Terry-style, fun. He said we would look back at this photo and be the only ones who will know what the heck we were doing – so true.

Land Training with Terry

It turned out that this voyage also marked a first for Terry in that Diane had a small dog, Sir Winston, who would accompany us on our kayak adventure.  Apparently, Terry’s gentle and relaxing approach also has a positive effect on dogs as Sir Winston, who looked nervous and out of sorts during land training, nodded off and dozed on Diane’s lap the entire time in the kayak.

Kayaking with a Puppy

Sir Winston wakes up from a slumber just in time for the camera.  Don’t worry; he’s got a life jacket too! Photo:  Sarah Windsor

Enjoying the spectacular Kayaking in Revelstoke

Terry had chosen Upper Arrow Lake for our adventure this day, though he does also use both Lake Revelstoke and Williamson Lake and offers special experiences like a waterfall tour or even an overnight trip.  Once we ventured out, I couldn’t help be awestruck by the stunning scenery that lay before us and the serene experience of floating on such calm and pristine, aqua water. It was hard to stop snapping the shutter on my camera though I was trying my best to keep up the paddling effort for my friend Gina, who accompanied me in our double kayak.

At a gentle pace, we paddled out towards Mt. Begbie, a signature Revelstoke peak, and then headed over to Mt. Cartier, the high peak adjacent to Revelstoke Mountain Resort.  About half-way through our paddle, Terry ‘rafted’ us together by holding onto our kayaks and served up his wife’s delicious homemade granola bars. While we munched, he shared his proprietary intelligence on the secret echo spot we had just gathered in.  Though I took video of the unique 360-degree echo experience, I have chosen not to share it as it was a special moment that must be experienced in person.

Fleet of Wooden Kayaks on the water

Rafting the crew together was no easy feat.  A recently retired physical educator, Terry was patient in his coaching as we spun in circles and had near-misses from bumping boats before we eventually got the group together.  Photo:  Sarah Windsor

In reflection, my adventure kayaking in Revelstoke was even better than I had anticipated.  The opportunity to see the surrounding area from a completely different perspective and easily navigate a vessel I had no experience with made me realize this is something every Revelstoke tourist should do no matter what age or ability.  Once you’ve wet your appetite with kayaking, your thirst for the water will have you yearning to take on more adventures like a paddleboard tour or even the thrill of white-water rafting.  So go on, just get your feet wet!