A local group of rafters are in search of more experienced members to join them as they take to the rapids.

A local group of rafters are in search of more experienced members to join them as they take to the rapids.

Rapid riders addicted to thrill

Aquaholics take on rapids on Shuswap River and around the world

Ever since his first adrenaline-soaked cruise down the Shuswap River in the early ‘90s, Miles Hopkins has been an acclaimed aquaholic.

The thrill of white water river rafting even drove him to buy his own raft and take a course in order to get his fix in.

“I was hooked,” said Hopkins, after the initial run that had him craving more. “The excitement of running the Chucks (canyon), and the slower drift later down the river, with the swimming, wildlife and lack of people was truly special.”

Hopkins’ addiction is not unusual. In fact, over the years he started collecting a crew of others jonesing to be on the rivers. Ski patrol members, search and rescue crews, kayakers and climbing fanatics are just a few in the mix.

For the last 10 years or so, the crew of 15 (whom call themselves the Aquaholics) have taken thousands of runs together, even bringing friends and family aboard.

With some incredible routes in their own backyard, most of their drifts are done locally, primarily in the Shuswap River.

“It has been an awesome big water season so far,” said Hopkins.

But the Aquaholics also venture into other unfamiliar waters.

“They always want a challenge so we added bucket-list expeditions with multiple rafts and started doing the Thompson River, the Chilko, the Tatshenshini/Alsek in the Yukon and Alaska, and are planning to do the Nahanni in the Northwest Territories next summer,” said Hopkins of the crew that rafts year round.

The snowy banks of Shuswap River even attract the crew in winter to experience the canyon deep in powder.

“Last March we finally got our full moon trip through the Chucks also,” said Hopkins. “It took a long time to hit the full moon on a clear night, when it rose just after dark, but it was a thrilling ride and one we’ll remember for life.”

The Aquaholics main rafting season starts in May and goes hard through mid-July for the big water.

“We go every Sunday, rain or shine – we’re wet anyway.”

When the waves begin to settle a little they do family cruises with kids, wives and dogs through September.

“Yes, everyone has life-jackets, even the dogs.”

The local group, who own five rafts, are looking to bring some additional aquaholics aboard.

“The reward, lots of adrenaline, laughs and sometimes a trip to the Green Room (under the water – don’t breathe if you can’t see blue),” said Hopkins, who through the sport has made some incredible friends, been to some amazingly beautiful places and been pushed to keep improving his life skills.

Anyone interested in joining the crew should have a rafting/kayaking background and most of their own gear.

“We need a solid level of fitness, for it is quite demanding, and the paddlers must be strong swimmers and team players,” said Hopkins.

Potential Aquaholics can contact Hopkins at madhopper@shaw.ca or 250-542-1632.