Rafters stranded on Lac des Arcs
A group of seven Calgarians are a little wiser as to what watercraft to use next time they venture out on a lake after being stranded on a Lac des Arcs island during last Sunday’s (Sept. 9) storm.
Kananaskis Country public safety responded to a call involving a group of rafters in their late teens and early 20s who were stranded after having lunch on the island and who were caught in the afternoon rain and windstorm.
“While they were sitting having lunch, a windstorm came in and blew one of their boats away,” explained Public Safety Specialist Mike Koppang.
Two members of the group attempted to retrieve the boat with a second raft they had brought, however, due to the increasingly strong wind, they were unable to catch up with it and were eventually blown to the far side of the lake.
According to Koppang, several conservation officers were called, along with Exshaw Fire, to collect the pair on shore, while a jet boat was then used to rescue the five people stranded on the island.
“One member of the public safety program and a conservation officer were able to drive back and forth with the jet boat and get the people off the island,” he said.
“A lot of those small inflatable rafts you can buy from one of the local stores, they’re not considered a boat, they’re actually considered a toy,” he added. “People can’t essentially launch one of those rafts and head out into the lake or down the river.”
The specialist also said that despite the group’s good spirits following the rescue, “it certainly was a learning opportunity for them. They learned the value of a proper boat. One that won’t blow away in the wind.”
Elsewhere in the Bow Valley over the weekend, provincial public safety personnel responded to several calls involving hikers falling from not wearing appropriate footwear such as one case involving a woman on Baldy Mountain.
“We’ve been seeing this all summer,” said Koppang. “People need to choose the appropriate footwear when they go into the mountains; a proper hiking boot with good support above your ankle.”
Several mountain biking accidents were also reported, with one serious incident occurring when a female biker on the Meander Trail went over her handlebars, suffered an internal injury and had to be evacuated from the backcountry.
Hikers getting lost in the backcountry are still a common occurrence at this time of year and last weekend was no different. One notable rescue involved two hikers that were separated from their group on Mount Yamnuska.
Koppang indicated the pair became disorientated and, due to the trees, could not determine which way to go. Public safety eventually spotted them with a helicopter, slung them to a shoulder area, and then flew them back down to the staging area.
Koppang stressed that with colder temperatures and a lack of light in the early evenings, those wanting to head out should ensure they have proper clothing, lighting and, most importantly, a plan of action beforehand.
The specialist also said those seeking higher elevations should take heed of the amount of snow that will eventually melt and can potentially create rock falls.
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