Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2nd Times a Charm for Lower Tamihi Creek

After our first aborted attempt at Lower Tamihi Creek, where it turns out we put on too high up at too low a water level and had an interesting go losing a paddle in an undercut and having a self rescue on the 2nd boulder garden we were running...we knew we'd have to go back another day. Compounding things were the fact that we left the breakdown paddle in the Jeep and none of us knew the run and we put on later in the day than suggested...just to make things more fun. We ended up having a good time getting our paddler and his boat across 2 channels of river with wood downstream, hiking up to the road and hiking out the 45 minutes it takes to get into this river...which, of course, we had just hiked in...this all made for a very unproductive 3-4 hour mission where we learned that even though a creek is 5 minutes from your's still a creek, and demands the same respect as a creek hours out in the bush.
Our ill-chosen put-in
Getting ready at the takeout bridge
The much vertical hike out
The roping of Jordan, undercut rock in foreground
For the long weekend, after a good week of 1.6 and 1.8 (highish water) Chilli canyon runs we headed down to The Ashnola amazing 25-30 km of perfectly runnable non-stop roadside (almost completely) class 4 river that only runs during about a month long period typically, or less, in the spring (June usually). We got there and it was at a perfect 2.5 level (medium-high), waking up the next morning it had rained a lot and ballooned to almost 4 (too high for most)...with our group we figured it best to run a flatter/upper section, but it turned out to be just a bit too woody to make it worth reading and running down. We hiked out. There was a good rapid above our put-in that a few people ran.

Ryan running the put-in rapid
Sunday we decided to finally nail off Lower Tamihi Creek, with a different crew including some people who'd run it before...almost makes sense. It was a good run, with a solid medium level, maybe slightly higher we put on lower down at the proper put in for the run which was much cleaner. There were some cool rapids on the run and unfortunately some choked with wood as well...the best rapid before Horseshoe (a bend in the river with some awesome rapids I'd love to take a closer look at sometime when I'm a better boater) and the awesome rapid right after horseshoe were both made unrunnable with wood unfortunately. Causing for a seal launch and one lengthy, bad portage through devils club central. There were a few rapids that only a few people ran, but mostly it was a good time bombing down and eddy hopping. We were the first runners of a new rapid caused by a landslide from the road...a loooong way up. It really makes me want to get on the amazing upper section of this creek before it is exploited and pillaged by the greedy rich corporations who have never even seen it, enabled by the good 'ol Liberal government of British Columbia, in their bid to destroy all of our last natural bits of beauty at taxpayer expense.

The end of the sketchy portage

Looking downstream at runnable goodness

The log blocking the coolest normally runnable rapid

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Island Class IV

Adam running Mill Bay Creek 2nd drop
Friday night I got back from a late Chilliwack canyon run to find that my buddies Geoff and Charlie were headed to Vancouver Island to hit some runs out there, and had invited me along. So I got up at 4 AM and still managed to miss the early ferry somehow, ended up taking the 7:45 to Duke Point where I met the boys after they'd already hit up Mill Bay Creek along the way!
Geoff on the Koksilah
   Adam running something

Adam landing the 2nd of Triple Drop on the Upper Gordon
We finally got underway and met the rest of our party to head out Upper Gordon, playing some hide-n-go seek with cars along the way...we got to the put in and I felt incredibly reassured to hear phrases such as 'I've never seen it this high before' and 'wow, it's pretty high'. I was still feeling good going into the run, and happy to hit some higher water after the first class IV runs I'd done were all at lower water levels, I was up for the challenge.


Gauge on Upper Gordon indicating high apparently
Adam boofing something on the Upper Gordon
We ran the first couple intro rapids fairly clean with a few flips and rolls, I was on my game. I don't remember much before we hit a rapid I believe called 'Intimidator', just before triple drop, it had a big piton flake in the middle that was jetting water straight up which you had to run left of, then angle right and pass the rock wall before riding out some beefy water. I went in a bit too fast and far left, shooting right into the rock wall and getting thrown upside down, my roll failed me in the churning water afterwards. I ended up swimming, my first swim in the Pure in anything of note...luckily that river karma payed off and I went right into an eddy with all my gear, but it was a turbulent eddy pulling me either back into the current or down under a large boulder it felt like..which wasn't good. I had to get my boat out of there and luckily it grabbed the eddy right on the other side of the rock, I threw my paddle onto the rock shelf but couldn't get out with nothing to grab hold of, Glen came along and gave me a hand out of the micro-eddy just as I was getting sucked away it seemed. I did have some visions of my prior failure on the Lower Gordon back in January I think, but stopped myself from thinking too much into it.

Famous Kokish Trestle being restored on Koksilah

On we went, after ferrying across we looked down on triple drop, the second drop was quite had an odd space into a boof flake on the left which would hopefully shoot you out right clear of the bad looking hole. After watching a couple people hit it well and listening to Charlie consider walking it I decided to pull up my big boy shorts (brand new drysuit), man up and take the plunge. I was confident I could hit it and had identified one thing I'd been doing wrong until this point, and that is charging to fast into things taking away from my ability to correct my line and adjust as needed, when I didn't need the all out speed. Well in this instance, speed was of the essence, I hit that rock fast, nailed my boof and flew it seemed across the river to the right landing perfectly flat and well clear of the hole. The third drop was a piece of cake and we gathered in an eddy where I could shore up and practice my roll for a good bit. Glen up and jumped off the cliff above, and impressive 60-70 foot drop, maybe higher.

The next couple drops were a load of fun, good, clean, waterful riverrunning at it's best, much of the run reminded me of what I imagine Canyon Creek of the Lewis would be like with more water. Finally we pulled in to get a look at Terminator, the final rapid of note. We looked at it quite a bit, but it seemed quite anti-climactic compared to the rest of the run, most people ran it clean on the left, I managed to go far left and deflect off the rock, 360ing me through it and rolled up just fine.

Charlie on Koksilah

On the way back to Victoria we stopped at a roadside waterfall we'd seen on the way in and started hucking it, I sat this one out as I wasn't happy with my non-rolling performance on The Gordon and decided to take video with my new camera. Most people seal launched into a small pool above the falls then did them, Tim got held up in the hole a bit there. Charlie ran the mank slide down into the falls au naturel.

That night we stayed in Vic and woke up Sunday wondering what to do, Copper Canyon on Chemainus was at a perfect flow (20 cms), then Geoff went off for Mother's Day at his parents, Charlie and I headed off to Mill Bay Creek to crank off a few laps and await Geoff. Mill Bay Creek is an amazing little park and huck 4 rapid chain just below the trans canada south of Duncan that runs right out into the ocean via Mill Bay, with a salmon hatchery at the bottom. There is a small slide into an 8 footer, then a 40 foot slide into a hole, a triple drop with a bigger hole in the middle and a final 25 foot slide with a few kicker rocks that will either throw you sideways or into the air. It was at I believe a medium-low flow Sunday. I was some scared to run that second drop I tell you, I'd never really done a slide and felt a lot better once Geoff arrived to make 3 of us.

Geoff running Mill Bay Creek first drop

Wow, what a feeling, so much speed so fast down that! I tried to boof, but most times ended up plopping and stroking right into the hole. The 4th time down I actually ran far right and hit a rock that flipped me tumbling the last 6 feet or so into a 6 foot drop upside down, put a bruise on the shoulder alright.

By now we realized we didn't have time for Copper canyon, and it propably wasn't the best idea considering our group. Instead we headed to Koksilah River Canyon under the picturesque and being rebuilt Kokish Trestle. This was a big deal for me, I'd always wanted to see this trestle and didn't make the connection until I saw it! I'm a huge train buff, and rebuilding is fully underway on this behemoth, some beautiful views afforded from river level, but we were in a pinch and didn't have much time for pictures unfortunately.
Koksilah was a good one time run, it had a few memorable rapids with some technicality to them, but for the most part was a flat water float that was incredibly scenic...fine if you have time, but we had to plough through to make the ferry back home!

Geoff on Mill Bay Creek 2nd drop

We barely caught the ferry after returning the shoddy, but much appreciated shuttle vehicle we were using, and skipped across the pond back home! Another amazing weekend of boating!

Photos courtesy Geoff Dunbrack, Charlie Beard and the author.

Tim boofing Terminator on the Upper Gordon

Friday, May 6, 2011

2011 VKC Festival a Success

Paddling festivals are often a great opportunity to get together with fellow paddlers; celebrate, and create interest in the sport. Many regions seem to have their own festival or race that goes on annually, and as much work as it is to organize, it's amazing to see the smiles on peoples faces having fun at the event.
With bated breath, many of us in the Lower BC Mainland awaited the annual Vancouver Kayak Club Festival held here at my home base, The Chilliwack River Valley. Weather cooperated for the most part as we had no rain, and a beautiful, hot, sunny, bluebird day on Sunday! Raffles and draws were held as well as a silent and loud auction where local paddler Ryan Bayes gathered a paddling trip to Ecuador with
Vendors were out expositioning their goods including and, who's Dagger Agent 6.2 was the grand prize of the raffle that I had the luck to win. Reps were also on hand from Dagger, Wavesport and Jackson kayak.
A race was held in two categories, creekboat and playboat from the top of Tamihi Rapid to the bottom of Campground Rapid. Also a throwdown was held on the Sunday on the best accessible playfeatures we could find, which was a challenge with the low water. From the race I ended up somehow winning a 70 liter drybag/backpack!
Shuttles were provided up and down the valley for runs all over the wide range (class I - IV) Chilliwack River, and on Sunday part of Tamihi Creek was also paddled.
The band 'Switch' performed Saturday night as the entertainment, though much was provided by Team Kootenay Kayak, who were among the groups from outside the area that joined us for the festival.
A big thanks goes out to the organizers at for their tireless efforts in making this happen, now we get to go and enjoy everyone else's hard work for the rest of the summer!
Next up on my personal list is The Puntledge River Festival on Vancouver Island May 28-29 here!
Thanks to Darrell and Chilliwack Times for the photos.
...and in other news, I was down at Western Canoe and Kayak this week and picked up a new Pyranha Molan Medium as my playboat of choice (review coming soon!), new helmet, and finally got a drysuit and new gasket for my blown drytop one.
I'm sure there are some details I'm forgetting...but anyway I will see you next year here!