Monday, December 27, 2010

The Cap

The Capilano River. Maybe the most popular river overall in and around Vancouver, even people who've never been to Vancouver have heard of the famous suspension bridge and make it one of their big stops on a visit to the city (if only they knew the Lynn Creek suspension bridge is right down the road, free, and nicer with the falls and hiking in my opinion!). Capilano River is dammed at the head, providing energy I believe to the city, while the nearby Seymour river provides the drinking water (I could be wrong). What most people don't realize (I never did before I started kayaking) is that you can kayak down from the weir at the base of the dam to the ocean. It's not a long run, so if you're coming from out of town you might want it to be at a good play level (3.5ish?) or a decently challenging level (5 or higher in my opinion). It's also a good idea to perhaps combine it with the Lynn Creek run or lap it (do 2 runs) order to quench your boating thirst.

Thankfully an online gauge is provided by the Vancouver Kayak Club via the 'Cap Cam', boy would one of these be welcome on rivers like The Lynn, Seymour, Chehalis, Norrish, Big could go on I suppose!

It was the evening after our adventures in Washington on The Nooksack when Klade called me up and invited me to join on the Cap the next morning. Sunday morning arrived, we couldn't check the level online for some reason, but I headed into the carpool meeting in Abbotsford anyway, there I met Marvin, Klade and we later headed in with Jeff. We now knew the level was at 5.5 and dropping.

Looking at the put in I thought it was crazy, the level was just over 5, there was a giant wavetrain after a 4 foot seal launch into the pool downstream of the weir. My heart pounding I threw myself into the froth, it should be said, it's interesting getting into the Cap at Capilano Park where there are so many interested tourists watching you, you feel like you're putting on a real show.

Meanwhile back on the river, I'd missed the first eddy, barely got in the second and had rolled 3 times on the eddy lines already...before the first rapid. Sitting in the final eddy before 'House Rock'(the first rapid, a huge rock on river left) all I could see was a massive blow of water off the cliff on river right that would shoot you right toward house rock, which had a massive pillow builtup and exploding all around it, it didn't look passable on the left (usually an easy line at low levels as I understand). It was by far the messiest 'room' I'd enter up to this point. There were people all over the bridges and rocks fishing or just watching us go at the rapid, people that two minutes ago had been clapping as I'd struggled to make a simple eddy thinking I was putting on some kind of show!

I headed into the exploding water and got blown maybe 10 feet left, didn't manage to ferry right and started rising up against the right side of house rock, plunging down the side of the rock I barely managed to stay upright, then got toppled by the following hole, rolled up and saw Jeff swimming beside my boat. We got into the eddy after the rapid and rescued Jeff and his things.

Next up was a big rooster tail and a bunch of headwalls. The rest of the run was a bit beefy, still seemed low despite being at a reasonable level, there were some small play features, but not as prominent as I hear there are at lowel levels. Basically after the mess that was house rock the rest of the run felt easy by comparison, especially with my senses heightened from that first drop. The scenery of the run was amazing, with little waterfalls everywhere and of course the suspension bridge, something to be said for passing under and seeing so many flashes going off up there so high as people take what I'm sure are such bad pictures!

We finished the run but we weren't done, Marvin and Klade didn't come all this way to do a short run, they wanted to do it again, and I wanted another crack at House Rock...Jeff sat the second one out needing to get home. This time the level had come down a bit to around 4.5 or so. House rock didn't look any different to me, and the same thing happened. Only this time I got slowly scooped up onto the pillow on the front of the rock, and as I sat at an angle parallel with the water, sculling myself up (creating steady buoyancy with your paddle) I got slowly dragged around the right of the rock until I fell right into the hole behind it upside down.

5 rolls through the following holes and my first time actually being T-rescued later I was in the eddy and hadn't swam, which I was very happy about! Again the rest of the run seemed even easier at the lower level...and I left being quite satisfied with my performance, but can't wait for the next round against House Rock...hopefully at an even higher level!

 Klade and I chilling below one of the many small waterfalls
Klade seal launching into the pool below the weir

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