The closest commercial rafting tours can be found on the Chilliwack River just one hour from Vancouver. And while the Chilliwack River suffers from a relatively short season it makes up for it in bumps, grinds and pure white water excitement. Dropping at a rate of 7 metres per kilometre, the Chilliwack is known for seemingly endless stretches of froth and foam.

The Tamahi Rapids in particular are home of the annual Canadian Kayaking Championships. The Chilliwack River is rated at between class iii & iv and rocks n' rolls through high water season from May to the end of July. During that time consumer-savvy Hyak Wilderness Adventures operates a daily shuttle service from downtown Vancouver. Pick up at 8 AM can be arranged from any major hotel. Hyak's Chilliwack River paddle-rafting tour lasts 4½ hours and includes a riverside feast. As an added touch participants can warm up at the end of the day with hot showers before returning to the city.

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Horsetails

Horsetails

Some would say the first plant: ever! A gigantic earlier relative of the common horsetail thrived in the Carboniferous era and eventually became our present day coal deposits. Containing silica, horsetails make a natural "sandpaper." On the west coast horsetails and salmon slime were used to polish masks, canoes, bone tools and soapstone pipes. In spite of the rough texture of the stalk, the young plant heads can be eaten as asparagus.

Illustration by Manami Kimura