Despite spending almost her entire life in Jasper, Beatrice Del-Fabbro had never experienced rafting on the legendary local rivers until she was only a few years from her 90th birthday.
“The first time I went, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” she chuckles, sitting in her room at the Alpine Summit Seniors Lodge. “My nieces wouldn’t believe I’d gone but I had my picture in the paper as proof!”
This sentiment — that river rafting is not the sort of activity a senior citizen could safely enjoy — is felt by many people as they get older, but it’s a myth that Jasper Raft Tours is bent on busting.
The local outfitter specializes in accessible-to-all-ages-and-abilities trips down the Athabasca River, and recently continued a tradition of offering a free annual trip for a group of local seniors during Alberta’s Seniors’ Week.
We want to be part of our community, and to help out our community.
For Beatrice, whose knees were perma-scuffed throughout her youth because of how often her eyes prioritized the mountains above her head instead of the path beneath her feet, the fresh air was a welcome joy. This year marked her third time going on the rafting excursion, and she encourages more seniors to be open to the waterborne adventure.
“The guides are so friendly and entertaining and they take such good care of you. You feel secure,” she says. “It gives you such confidence.”
Using specially designed, seven meter long, oar powered rafts (the guides do all the rowing), the safe and comfortable ride traverses 16 kilometers of the same route used by fur traders of yesteryear and includes several small, easy sets of rapids and calm stretches. The trip lasts a total of two and a half hours, including transportation to the river.
Wildlife spottings are common (Beatrice’s group saw an osprey this year) and tours operate rain or shine, with poncho being provided when required.
Regular tours depart every day at noon from May 16 - Oct. 15 (with an additional daily departure at 3:45 p.m. from July 1 - Sept. 4). To reserve a spot, call Jasper Raft Tours at 1.780.852.BOOK (2665) or toll free at 1.888.55FLOAT (1.888.553.5628) or book through the Online Reservation Form.