River rafting in British Columbia can be a big letdown. Opportunities abound of course. Indeed, with so many mountains and so much rain, the river rafting potential is nearly limitless. Innumerable companies offer a wide variety of rafting experiences for a range of skill levels from easy to challenging. The downside is, without a car, many of these opportunities are not practical even though rafting is the one outdoor activity that truly lends itself to communal modes of transportation.

Drawing largely on the Lower Mainland market, commercial rafting companies have tended to proliferate in just a few regions, notably the Thompson-Fraser drainage, the Chilliwack River and Whistler areas. As a consequence a rather silly scenario unfolds daily during prime rafting season. Hundreds of people in dozens of cars set out at approximately the same time each day for approximately the same destinations following the same crowded highways to do exactly the same sort of thing. Yet, thinking only inside the box, no one has come up with a shuttle service to link all these customers with all these rafting companies. The infrequency and logistics of existing public transportation often demand that would-be rafters must turn what should be a day trip into an overnighter or even a weekender in some cases. Fortunately, some exceptions do apply. Those are detailed below. Those companies not listed may come to realize that a certain segment of the recreating public is beginning to demand "ecotourism" that is environmentally friendly from start to finish.

On the matter of safety, all rafting guides must pass a stringent certification procedure before being licensed to operate in the province of British Columbia. All companies include rain gear or wet suits where appropriate as well as life jackets, paddles and usually lunch. Guests are encouraged to bring swimsuits and running shoes for in the raft and should also bring a complete change of clothes for apr├ęs-splash. There are essentially three kinds of rafting in British Columbia. Power rafting requires at least the fitness ability to hold on and scream. Guests enjoy the ride and take in the scenery while an outboard motor does most of the work. Paddle rafting demands that participants all chip in, paddling frantically to navigate past midstream obstacles at the river guide's command. An oar and paddle combo works similarly with all the frenetic paddling of the above but the guide exercises additional control over the craft using long oars.

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Trillium

Dwarf Dogwood

Since the Dogwood is the provincial flower in British Columbia, "bunch berry," is a protected species. Following pollination and fruiting, dwarf dogwood produces a bunch of bright red berries, hence the name. Bunch berry berries are edible either raw or cooked though they are not particulary tasty. They have further been used both internally and externally to counteract natural toxins from mushrooms, poison ivy and even bee stings. Dwarf dogwood is a perennial and a perennial favourite with hikers as this low ground cover will be found along most forested footpaths on the coast. The white petal-like mane surrounding the central flower are actually specialized leaves called bracts.

Illustration by Manami Kimura