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Packrafting in British Columbia: A Provincial Park Ranger’s Personal Take

Packrafting in British Columbia:
A Provincial Park Ranger’s Personal Take

Story and Photos by Darragh Carroll, Park Ranger

Darragh Carroll is a Park Ranger who looks after 15 Provincial Parks in the Whistler/Pemberton area of Canada. Irish-born, Darragh has now lived in beautiful British Columbia for nearly seven years. He is an avid wildlife observer, outdoor guide, and paddler who enjoys his time spent in Canada’s backcountry.

Darragh paddles the beautiful clear waters of Canada’s Provincial Parks.

You may ask, “Why Would a Park Ranger Use a Packraft?

A Park Ranger would use a packraft to:

  1. Efficiently and safely access some of the most remote areas in my parks and local areas.
  2. Upgrade my available work tools/options in a cost-efficient, reliable and durable way.
  3. Carry large amounts of trash, garbage and tools in and out across large areas. By using a lightweight setup, as opposed to a helicopter flight and/or motorized access options, is particularly important on lakes and river environments deep in the backcountry.

Our Impact in the Wilderness

With a mass movement to re-wild humans, there has been a very noticeable shift in the types of people we have begun to see in the more remote areas of our Parks. More people enjoying the beautiful backcountry is positive, but on a realistic side, we as Park Rangers have also seen a much higher impact to these areas as well.

Here is a simple list of what we see just to try to give, you, the reader, an idea:

  1. Garbage dumping
  2. Long-term environmental damages to sensitive ecosystems  
  3. Increased human-caused wildfires and illegal fires in protected areas
  4. Poo
  5. Did I say poo? Because it’s worth another mention!
Packrafts are great tools for accessing remote areas of Canada’s backcountry.

Packrafts are useful tools.

Now is the time to say a huge thank you to Alpacka Raft for giving me access and use of their products to help on conservations issues in British Columbia, Canada!

Whether on routine patrols in order to get into zones where people were having illegal fires, and/or camping in sensitive grizzly bear habitat and wetlands, my packraft was so useful. It was a huge success all around. I was able to pack in and packraft out whatever I came across, which is always a lot!

Packrafts allow low-impact backcountry access as an alternative to motorized travel.

What Did I Learn About Packrafting?

Very quickly, I learned that a packraft is one of the best pieces of outdoor gear I never knew I needed as a Park Ranger and it has been a backcountry access game changer, and covers so many uses. I have taken it far off places on remote multi-day trips; cleaned lakeshores on my free time; taken the next generation of paddlers out for the first time on gentle evening river floats!

This packraft was awesome and the solution I was looking for. The size was great and it packed down into a portable package. It was super easy to inflate, setup and take down. And, it was durable in all shore landings and river crossings and I was also able to carry huge loads easily with plenty of space in the front.

“The next missions for this fall and the coming spring will include more Park patrolling and garbage removal”

How Will I Use My Packraft Next?

Because the next missions for this fall and the coming spring will include more Park patrolling and garbage removal, and possible ski touring missions as our lakes continue to freeze later and thaw sooner due to warming temperatures, I’m looking forward to testing the raft on some whitewater sections inside the Parks once I can get some other willing rangers to follow me!