The Canadian Rockies have some of the most majestic and remote scenery anywhere in the world. I know, because I once spent two weeks hiking across them. But one thing you can’t do when you are walking is carry a boat with you. And if you want to get out and explore the beautiful meltwater lakes in the highest reaches of the mountains, that’s the kit you need. However, in British Columbia, I found that there is a way to do it – on a day-trip, by helicopter.
A quiet airfield on the outskirts of Abbotsford, an hour’s drive east of Vancouver, was our rendezvous for an 8.30am start. I was to fly with a small group, an Australian, an American and a German couple from Berlin who had travelled all the way here, to west coast Canada, for a long weekend, specifically for this heli-kayaking trip.
There to meet us was our young pilot and guide, Nick Drader. Flying helicopters is in Nick’s blood. Chief pilot for 11 years in his father’s forestry company, he perfected his skills by hovering over the tips of pine trees high up in the Rockies, while his colleague nipped out the tips for replanting (apparently this is the best way to propagate the strongest specimens). His father and three brothers were also pilots. It felt like we were in good hands.