Kevin Aitken, Corrie Allen and Brandee Wattam say there are anxious, nervoue and excited about their upcoming 1,400-kilometre journey down the Fraser River from its headwaters in the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean in Vancouver.
The three Lillooet residents will participate in this year’s Sustainable Living Leadership Program, sponsored by the Rivershed Society of B.C.
They will travel along the Fraser from July 20 to Aug. 14, with a Lillooet stopover on Aug. 5 for the Salmon in the Canyon Festival.
Kevin Aitken is a longtime Lillooet resident, an outdoors enthusiast and member of District of Lillooet Council. Biologist Corrie Allen has been working at Split Rock Environmental for eight months and Brandee Wattam moved to this area three years ago to work at a Bridge River Valley guest ranch. She’s currently working as a lifeguard at the REC Centre swimming pool.
Traveling down the river by canoe, raft, shuttle bus and on foot, they will sleep out under the stars, explore an ancient forest, solo hike in the Cathedrals south of Williams Lake, watch for bears, eagles and other wildlife, learn about watershed CPR (conservation, protection and restoration) and work on projects they have selected.
For Aitken, that means finding ways to encourage youth to get outdoors and involved with the natural world; for Wattam, that means establishing a Young Naturalists Society here; and for the Allen it means doing additional research into sturgeon populations in the Upper, Middle and Lower Fraser and the challenges facing the giant fish.
Asked what their expectations are for the trip, their answers range from “lots of bugs” to getting completely away from any technology for three weeks to challenging themselves to do things they’re not comfortable with, contemplating changes they would like to make in their lives and learning new leadership skills.
In Lillooet, the expedition will be joined by Keely Weget-Whitney, a former participant in the Sustainable Living Leadership Program. She will be swimming the Fraser from Lillooet to the Stein River.
Wattam says she has been saving money for a year to help pay for the journey down the Fraser. She and Allen have also received funding support from the Lillooet Naturalist Society.