Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Seymour Canyon

When I first started kayaking I bought Claudia Shwab's guide to whitewater in Southwest BC and briefly scanned through each run reading lots of the captions under the pretty pictures. One particular phrase that stood out was 'this is probably the most difficult run in this book', of course you can imagine what that referred to, Seymour River Canyon, class V as she described it in her conservative way (not a bad thing!), and I'm sure it quickly gets there with some water added.

Imagine you live in downtown Vancouver and you're a kayaker, trapped on the island that is a big city, you wouldn't think there is much in the way of runnable whitewater normally, but Vancouver is different, it has 2 almost downtown dammed rivers, and a third rainfed creek, these are the Capilano, Seymour and Lynn. Seymour river actually has 3 distinct sections (Upper class III, middle or canyon class IV-V, and lower class II with some surf) in addition to an pipeline wave before it enters the straight and out to the Pacific Ocean.

At the end of riverside road among all it's houses is a path that leads up the Seymour river, starting beside a bridge over a particularly gnarly section...as you walk this path you'll notice you can't so much see the river except for one part until you arrive at the twin bridges about 2 km up, well the rapid under the first bridge is Final Exam, the part you can see from the path is 'the bony drop' I think it's called, and the twin bridges is the putin and possibly takeout for the upper run.

As you can probably tell from the hike along the well maintained and oft used path, it's a deep canyon, difficult to scout or portage in places and from what I understand very difficult to get out once you're in it, like many canyons. You actually hike your boat this entire way to the putin, which makes this run, as described in Liquidlore.com I think, like going to the gym...but better!

The run itself is amazing. The level was a great introductory just under 2 on the rock. I took a look at the entrance to mosh pit, which didn't look that inviting with the lowish water level. Tim and Geoff ran it on the right with moderate success, Annie ran a better left line. In the end I split the difference and boofed onto the middle nugget and ended up catching the small eddy immediately to the right of the entrance. Coming down the rest of the run was no problem following Annies or Tims lines most of the time. Before I knew it we were at Final Exam as I recognized the bridge...barely having taken time to enjoy the scenery up to that point. You can tell the pools in between the rapids could get very short very quick with some water on this one..

I got out at final exam to watch everyones lines, which were all about the same, then got in to run it, probably my worst run rapid of the jaunt besides the lower part of moshpit, but it turned out fine in the end.

All in all it's hard to say whether it's better as a kayaker to live in Chilliwack or Vancouver. Chilliwack has the Chilliwack canyon, which is much easier, but has an easy shuttle and is a longer run that can be had no matter the water level. Seymour canyon is a better workout with the hike, a shorter run, more challenging, and isn't always runnable with water levels. Though I'm told Norrish Creek runs more often, I'm yet to get on that one...I know if I'd run Seymour canyon with the frequency I've been running Chilliwack canyon at, I'd probably be a more proficient kayaker...but who knows!

Being in Chilliwack now, the thing that's kept me from running the Seymour is the traffic, Vancouver traffic sucks! ..and we've got so many runs around here on our own drainage as well as the Nooksack and in the Fraser Valley...it's often a tough call!

For a great description and amazing pictures check out http://liquidlore.com/bc/seymour/ .

The four of us peeling out, Tim boofing, courtesy Denny Lunge

Me heading into the rapid before final, courtesy Denny Lunge

Me watching as Annie runs final, courtesy Denny Lunge...notice the beauty of the canyon and the sun coming in

Tim and Geoff get ready in North Vancouver 'burbs to do a sweet canyon run, courtesy Geoff Dunbrack

Tim enjoying the hike in, courtesy Geoff Dunbrack

Me enjoying the scenery before the canyon encroaches, courtesy Geoff Dunbrack

No comments:

Post a Comment