Nahatlatch is a beautiful river with beautiful surroundings in the transitional area between the coastal and interior forest (yes, you will find many Saskatoon berries). REO rafting runs raft trips regularly and is based out of the river which drains 2 lakes down into the Fraser. There are 2 awesome sections of whitewater as well as some training ground between the 2 lakes. This being the first time I've seen and ran it, I've only glimpsed it at high water, keep that in mind with my following descriptions as I understand the river takes on different character at lower levels. It is all roadside for the Upper, which adds a certain degree of safety to the run.
The Upper run starts off with a bang as the first bend out of the put in lake contains a long, class IV- hole garden called 'Rose Garden' which leads into a big headwall on the left where 'Meatgrinder' is found. Rose garden itself feels much like a much longer version of 'Trailer Park' rapid on Chilliwack River at higher water to me. The rest of the run is quite continuous class III+ wave trains and holes that is read and run. I did this run in a playboat first, then twice in the creeker. In my opinion it was the most difficult thing I've ran in my playboat, especially not knowing anything about the river.
The first day we put in to run the canyon, I wasn't quite sure so I hiked out just before the entrance at 'Nozzle'. The second day I man'd up and ran it, it's an extremely exciting class IV/IV+ fairly continuous section of whitewater in a huge canyon, eddies, especially near the beginning, are few and just off to the sides. There are a few eddies you don't want to catch on this run as well as they are big, boily and swirly and difficult to break out of. The entire thing is fairly read and run, though it is easier to have someone showing or telling you the lines. The first day we took a look at Nozzle. There are massive waves and huge holes in there to avoid, but they are not too hard to avoid as long as you have a good ferrying ability.
The canyon is definately a step up on Chilliwack Canyon at high water, though short, it is over before you know it. You can continue beyond the takeout into the Fraser from what I understand..I'd love to hear more or try this out sometime! In the end, not knowing the level of the Stein river, and knowing that Nahatlatch was at a nice, high level made it worth it just to stay in one place for the weekend. Much like Ashnola or Cameron, it's a river you can spend some time at and run over and over, at least at my level! Nods to Dan Bentley for bringing his Dagger Agent 6.2 down in there and tearing it up too!
I would say the upper in a playboat was more challenging than the canyon in a creeker though for myself..
Photos by Dave Gerbrandt, Rob Morris and Adam Frey.
|Running down towards Headwall|
|Getting tossed in Meatgrinder|
|Typical Upper boogie|
|It's a big river|
|Encountering the nozzle|
|Rosegarden/Meatgrinder is a bad place for a swim as some boats and people can attest to|
|Will getting nozzled while Dan gets ready to sub out in his playboat|
|Merick heading into Meatgrinder|
|Chillin' after the canyon takeout|