Goldenites saw a sight for sore eyes on Sunday evening when four rafts floated down the Kicking Horse River through town… something none of us thought we'd see this summer.
Despite being blocked to the "put in" point of the Lower Canyon of the Kicking Horse River, two local white water rafting companies have found a creative solution that actually adds a little extra excitement to an already exhilarating experience.
Heli-rafting is about to become a common term, as Glacier Raft Company and Wet N' Wild Rafting Adventures, with the help of Alpine Helicopters, have started offering their guests helicopter access to the Lower Canyon.
"That was the test run we did on Sunday night," said Ryan Johanessen, owner of Glacier Rafting. "It went really well, and now we're super excited to be offering this to our guests."
Negotiations with CP Rail, who has decided not to allow a crossing solution over their tracks at the Lower Canyon until the Province agrees to assume the liability, completely derailed last month. So the rafters began working on a creative solution to access the river another way, and leave CP out of the equation completely.
"It's great for us to be able to put a positive spin on the situation," said Johanessen. "We're done battling with CP…we need to find a long term solution independent of them."
Heli-rafting will be available to guests beginning the July long weekend, and the companies are planning to run up to four boats on Saturdays and Sundays.
"We're already starting to get bookings, which is great."
The helicopter ride will add about 30 minutes onto the trip, as well as an increased cost. And although everyone is thrilled that this option is now available, the industry is still wanting to see a solution that allows a more affordable access for their guests.
Johanessen has already noticed the impact of shorter rafting trips, which is starting to ripple through the town.
"We're done earlier in the afternoon than we normally would be, and people aren't hungry yet," he said. "Normally people would be ready to go out for dinner, and we'd recommend some places. But right now people are just heading out of town… So we definitely need to keep working on this."