When I was asked to go jet boating in Pemberton with skiing legend Eric Pehota, it was sort of a no brainer. The man has done the unthinkable on skis for more than 20 years, so why wouldn’t you want to rip down a network of glacial rivers with a certified adrenaline junkie?
Pehota, who is now the owner of the company, has driven for Whistler Jet Boating for more than 16 years. The company has become a family operation. Eric’s wife Parveen and his two sons, Dalton and Logan, who are also budding pro skiers, are all involved.
“I know this river better than the back of my hand,” he tells us. Even though he only has one hand on the wheel and is looking back at us instead at the river ahead, we believe him. After all, he’s Eric Pehota, a big mountain skiing pioneer, one of the first people to summit Pemberton’s Mount Currie, a born and raised BC boy and the ultimate mountain man.
The rivers, fed by the glaciers that surround the Pemberton area, offer the perfect playground for jet boating. The ice cold water— only 8 degrees Celsius— rushes down Nairn Falls and pumps through Green River, creating Class 3 rapids. The river banks are also home to a variety of wildlife, including bears, moose, deer, osprey, heron, eagles and even a new species – the mooning camper.
The evening light provides an almost magical setting as we set out along the Lillooet River for about 10 minutes. Then, abruptly we turn onto the Green River and things get…a little more interesting.
Now, I never would have dreamed that you can take a boat up the Green River, but given that the boat can ride in depths as shallow as six inches, this two-three-foot body of water is no problem. The jet boat fits six to eight passengers at a time and can go up to 72 kilometers an hour.
Think a boat can’t turn on a dime from logs, bushes, and rocks? Think again. Just when you suspect the boat is going to go full tilt into some obstacle or another, Eric expertly navigates the boat inches away to safety.
When we come across the strongest rapids, which are riddled with rocks and driftwood, we think “no way”. Yes way. With every sharp turn and perceived close call, I am screaming with delight as we power through what looks like an impossible battlefield.
Although what we’re doing seems absolutely insane, I know that we’re in good hands. Eric even stops the boat from time to time to give us a little heads up about “humidity” that may come over the bow and splash us.
When we can’t get any further up Green River, it’s time to turn around and head down, where the speed of the boat, combined with the speed of the rapids makes for a pretty bumpy ride. But, we’re loving it all the way down. Eric does a 360 at the end of the tour and we feel like total rock stars.
We stop just before the Lillooet River to celebrate our accomplishment with an ice cold beer and a chat. Eric takes some time out to call his wife to let her know we’re OK. Even professional adrenaline junkies need to call home.
Spending time with Eric Pehota is cool enough. Factor in jet boating and you’ve got yourself a sweet adventure. This is a perfect group outing. Jet boating is awesome! That’s pretty much all there is to it.
PUBLICATION: Whistler Is Awesome