Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cayoosh Creek

With the chase for anything with water in the area on, Bentley and I headed up to Lillooet to run the classic section of Cayoosh Creek, which at a 3ish hour drive from home seemed reasonable. We met Jen Eddie, Sacha Bordas, Mike Grant and Alison Homer the latter two who'd just completed the Upper class III section and set up shuttle for this BC classic. We were pursuing a mixed US/CAN/NZ group of 9 people in front of us so it was a busy day up there!

Cayoosh is very different from most other runs I've done. The scenery is dry desert with super steep slides and scree slopes everywhere, it's roadside, but about a thousand feet down and winds through 3 good canyon sections of varying rock type.

Most of the run is classic semi-continuous BC pool drop, and definitely could have benefited from more water, but we were just so happy it HAD water still we didn't really mind. The run starts off with a great fading boof off a sloped rock and continues down through some amazing boulder gardens for a majority of the run. Most of the run is read and run, but there are some places you'll get out to scout.

Things steepen a bit coming into Landslide rapid, by far the biggest drop on the run, unfortunately it had wood in it which forced the most horrendous portage I've ever undertaken over a slidey scree slope of loose rock. The rapid immediately after also had a mank seived out line which needed more water to be ideal, so we also portaged that, the rest of the run was good to go.

The run maintains a good level of steep read and run after landslide for awhile until you come to the final canyon, which features 3 good drops and a more bedrock nature. The last drop at this level swirled down the left to right around a rock, but at higher water looked like it would have a nice boof, it was my favorite rapid of the day I think.

Also on this run I witnessed the first time I'd seen anyone pinned in a river, luckily they could still breathe and we managed a swift rescue and got all gear back intact as well, but it was scary.

Well worth the drive, the scenery alone would be even, this run far exceeded my expectations! We got to have a few drinks that night at Jen's as well and enjoy the new Inga Rapids film...good times!

Dan Bentley made a great video for this run here!

Fraser Valley White Water 2010 writeup here!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Dagger Nomad 8.5 Review

I've been kayaking for over 2 years now, and creeking about a year and a half. In that time I've used 3 kinds of creekboats full time and tried many others, I'm not sponsored by any company I should state off the bat. First in my line of boats was the Prijon Pure, a great boat with few shortcomings that I'm confident could've lasted longer than any other kayak had I given it the chance..then came the Pyranha Burn M which I loved and probably did the most progressing with, it was the boat I was using when I first started to feel comfortable in class IV/IV+. Sadly the Pyranha didn't last very long and their warranty failed me any coverage, not wanting to be stuck in a situation buying a new kayak every 4 months I turned to the tried and true Dagger Nomad 8.5...and it turns out that's where I wish I'd gone from the start.

Now I know there are a lot of Nomad reviews out there since it's a 9 year old boat (though with 1 revision, and new outfitting due this year), but I'm going to get mine out there anyway, why not, what other 9 year old boat is still being put through it's paces by the worlds best paddlers, while there are still people starting out looking for a more recent opinion. I'm a 30 year old, 165 lb, 6'2" mostly legs individual for reference purposes, which puts me right at the bottom end of the big Nomad weight range. When I was looking for a new kayak there were 2 options I was considering, the Nomad and a Liquidlogic Stomper, not being able to comfortably fit my feet in the Stomper 80 with it's full length running foam centre pillar I defaulted to the Nomad. Since switching in December 2011 I've run a good amount of class IV/IV+, and possibly a bit of V depending who you talk to and here is my review of the Nomad:

Let's start with the outfitting. The Nomad is the most comfortable boat I've ever sat in, it feels like a couch, the standard issue ratchet backband ratchet's don't have the same nice feel of the Pyranha's, but unlike my Burn, the ratchets have never ripped off of the thigh pads either. Speaking of the thigh pads and area, they are padded through the entire area your knees would contact the hull, making for a comfortable ride, and the thigh/knee grips themselves have just enough of a 'hook' to keep your knees locked in place and are adjustable back and forward. The hip pads are perfectly contoured for my hips it seems and can be moved around quite a bit as needed. The backband is secured with a couple small buckles which have never failed on me and make it extremely easy to access the stern for storage. The bulkhead is pretty standard issue, and like the Burn there is a full access area to house my feet and click my heels together which I need. There is a solid step out pillar with an area for my throwbag quick access between my legs where I like it. All in all I feel very comfortable in the Nomad.

The hull design is a displacement hull with a single soft edge the runs from the front down to about 3/4 of the way to the back before fading. This was a huge change for me from the Burn with it's sharp, engrained edge the length of the boat and planing hull. There was some learning curve, but in the end the benefits of the design I found definitely by far outweigh the drawbacks. The boat definitely helped me build more confidence with it's forgiving style. It's true, the Nomad often seems to get you through things when your aim is off the mark. It has less primary stability than the Burn but more secondary, you can get it right up on edge in full control and the edges won't trip you up. The boat is fast for sure, and takes some effort to turn, but not too much. It doesn't excel at ferrying or putting edge in to grab the water however. Lots of people don't say it boofs great but I've always found it boofs just fine, though not as good as the Stomper or Pure. It really wants to stay on top of the water which is usually awesome, but can make it a bit of holebait sometimes too. Extremely stable in most situations and predictable.

I know that last paragraph is a bit all over the place, the bottom line is that the Nomad's single soft edge is all the edge I need in most situations, and it is extremely forgiving besides, giving me a lot of confidence in handling it.

In September 2012 my Nomad cracked somewhere on Cayoosh Creek near Lilooet, BC. I was extremely happy that Dagger warrantied it pronto and I was able to get my new Nomad at Western Canoe and Kayak in Abbotsford, BC, so I didn't need to go far. As a consumer this is very important to me and I don't have any reason to buy a boat from another company at this point, especially with Dagger's bomber plastic as it is mixed into the equation. I am excited to see the new Jitsu playboat when it comes out and possibly look at a Mamba as my next boat, also extremely excited about the new Dagger outfitting, but for the moment am really enjoying the Nomad and don't have any desire to get away from it.

Boofs like a charm as long as you boof it like a charm. Photo by Tristan Oluper

The new, more yellow and less red Nomad, it may burn your eyes.

Aaaah I do miss ol big red. Photo by Tristan Oluper

Getting amongst it, yes you can catch those small eddies between drops. Photo by Tristan Oluper

Monday, September 10, 2012

Eastern BC Roadtrip

Wanting something different from the amusement park that is Whistler area kayaking, and Scott McBride having come off 2 months of playing geologist in the bush we decided to pack up the Jeep and head East. I was pretty excited as this would mark my first time kayaking East of the Ashnola River near Princeton, BC!

Scott hadn't kayaked in a couple months (since the Ashnola basically) and I wanted to check out some new places as a boater so first stop was Upper Fraser Mini Fest, at the headwaters of the mighty Fraser River near Jasper National Park. We found out about the event from our friends Ben Yorke and Erika Thompson and it didn't disappoint. More of a gathering of paddlers, there was a large amount there to experience the Upper Fraser around 42 cms.

Upper Fraser is a fun class III run with lots of optional meatier lines that goes over the 30 footish 2-tiered Overlander Falls, where you get lots of attention as it's just off Highway 16, into Upper Fraser Canyon, not to be confused with Fraser Canyon near Hope, BC..which is on the same river but many miles downstream. The falls is one of the more fun falls I've run, fairly straightforward you basically boof onto the shelf and the water shoots you to the bottom through a flushing hydraulic. I did manage to be less than graceful with my first attempt and dent my bow, but redeemed myself the second go around.

Upper Fraser Canyon is a fun little canyon with some class III and IV rapids that I'm sure would get busier with more water, not much of it is actually a canyon it turns out. Terminator rapid at the end is the grand finale as you ride a nice tongue through some boily long as you're on line.

After 2 days there we decided to take the scenic route down to Nakusp via Highway 93, the famous Athabasca Parkway that connects Jasper and Banff. This is a drive I used to do often, but less so since moving to BC. We stopped to take looks at Athabasca and Sunwapta Falls as well as Mistaya Canyon, I marvel at the amount of exploring to be done out there, it would be nice to have more time! We just made the final midnight ferry near Nakusp and met Tristan Oluper and Dan Bentley at Summit Lake.

The next day by total fate (and a missed turn) we ended up in the middle of nowhere (New Denver) where we stopped at the only cafe, which was really good, and randomly ran into a seasoned area paddler rife with information named Randy who directed us to Cooper Creek, up past Kaslo, which he thought would be one of the last things running. Big shout out to random Randy and the delicious cafe in New Denver, otherwise not sure what we would have done! We headed out for a late start on Cooper which featured a somewhat epic shuttle drive, but not too bad, and were happy to find adequate water!

Cooper Creek is amazing! Exactly to form as Randy had described, you put on and for about a mile wonder if the rest of the run is this manky, scrapy and bad really..then it gets good, and stays good! For 5 or so more miles! The first half is where the larger drops are, there isn't anything bigger than class IV in here, some tricky lines and a bit seived out, but mostly easily scoutable and portageable. There are probably 4 notable drops before it goes into the most sustained narrow read and run canyon of class III whitewater I have ever seen. Somewhat continuous small pool drop rapids that let you enjoy the scenery the entire time and it was all mostly clean and all runnable through the last half canyons! That place is amazing and I cannot wait to go back.

The last day it was just Scott and I so after a quick look at a much too low Sutherland Falls we went up to Revelstoke to hit low water Jordan River. Jordan River is a very cool river with 6 large drops that are all scoutable and portageable and some boulder gardens in between. The low water made some of the drops a lot less attractive unfortunately, but I still managed to run 4 and 6, while Scott hit up 4 as well! Big stoke on. The run reminded me a lot of Vancouver Island, especially the Middle Gordon River near Port Renfrew.

After that we headed back to get home late but in time to go to work the next day! I also found out that the Jeep weighted down makes it seems like my brights are on, as everyone on the highway was flashing me (and not in the good way)...what an amazing weekend!

Simon runs a great line at Overlander. All photos by Scott McBride unless otherwise noted.

Rob Cartwright on Overlander.

Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park, AB.

Scott poses in front of the mouth of the Columbia Icefield on Highway 93. Photo by the author.

Author about to sub out on Cooper Creek.

All smiles on Cooper Creek.

Bentley and Scott take pics (lots of this going on with the beauty scenery) in Cooper Creek's lower gorges.

Sutherland Falls near Revelstoke, too low to want to run.

Sliding down Number Four on Jordan River, Revelstoke.

Number Six on the Jordan.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Big Silver Creek

For a long time now a true weekend long mission to Big Silver has been on my radar, having been up multiple times at sub-zero temps and run portions here and there it was time for a proper firing up of sorts.

I'm going to save you some time and say that if you want a succinct description of exactly what Upper Big Silver is without a lot of story, check out the Liquidlore beta page: Here, and also refer to the linked Range Life post. There is a good video by Chris Tretwold as well covering the entirety of the Creek: Here ...for the rest of my ramblings and some decent pictures keep this is the single best thing I've ever fired up to date.

So a week after firing up Callaghan Creek in Whistler finally at a solid level I headed away from the 'sure thingness' to Big Silver Creek, which is in the middle of nowhere to a certain extent, at the moment more than usual even. Normally there is a road through to the Nahatlatch drainage, offering the option of Nahatlatch/Stein Rivers if the Big Silver (BS) level is no good, however at the moment there is a washout between Upper Big Silver put in and Nahatlatch that stops you from making that trip. Faced with the prospect of uncertain water levels, and a 2.5 hour drive one way from Chilliwack largely over dirt road and the possibility of bad water levels and the same return trip, despite the fact that there are natural hot springs in the area and amazing scenery and bush camping, it was difficult to find any takers. But I did.

We headed up Friday night and got a late start Saturday heading for the Upper after camping at Cogburn Creek, which unfortunately at this time is still gated. I got a bit of a headstart wanting to find a good place to hike out at the end, and I actually hiked in to get a look at some of the third (unrunnable) gorge, the portion I saw looked like a clean 10 footer and 2 little boulder drops with a pool in between, but knowing better kayakers than us call this unrunnable we didn't have any desire to find out today.

We got to the put in waterfall and didn't look too hard at it, deciding just to hike straight down to the put in pool from the road, in hindsight probably a bad idea as the hike was difficult, maybe hiking from above the falls is easier, and you can ponder running the falls, a nice 30 footer with a tricky lead in seive to dodge. We knew right away the level was in between at least 2 pictures of the falls I'd seen. After getting to the first rapid, it was obvious the level was low, but it turned out to be the better side of low. Most everything was padded enough and it wasn't pushy, great for our group of nobody who'd done it. I do wish we'd rallied earlier on this sunny warm day to keep the sun we had in the first canyon through the entire run...

Anyway, once you put on you immediately enter the first canyon which culminates with a good 8' double boof ledge and is somewhat short, we thought we were out of it prior to actually being out of it, but being very wary not to enter the third (unrunnable canyon) makes you be a bit more careful.

Then you enter the real star of the run, the second canyon is amazing, the single most scenic place I've laid eyes on. It contains such highlights as multiple fun sets of rapids, some really fun boofs and tight lines, a short crevasse and a longer very straight box canyon, the entire time with manageable rapids that are nearly all scoutable and portageable.

The entire run has this triangular canyon wall that seems to rise from the river, I've never seen anything like it, I imagine it would be a geologists dream in there. Straight canyons, pool drop character, many clean rapids, probably 15+ quality rapids at least with a few tighter sections with shorter pools. You can tell this is one that definitely gets tougher with more water though.

The quality of scenery and whitewater in the Upper rates it as a true classic in my books. It was so clean two of us fired up every drop besides the optional put in falls, which potentially could have been fired up if a person were so inclined. The one mistake we made was taking out at the wrong point after exiting the second canyon. There is a long stretch of flat water, and we were paranoid of coming around a corner and being gorged into the unrunnable, so we must've taken out at a bad spot, as instead of the 15 minute described exit we encountered a 45 minute scramble up then down then up again to the road with heavy brush to whack through. Best to follow advice and exit immediately after the second canyon or at the mouth of the third, not in between! All in all we spent about 4 hours on the section with heavy scouting and picture taking total I think.

The second day we fired up the lower section, which actually comprises what in Claudia Schwab's 'Whitewater of Southwest BC''s 'Upper' run and the Divided We Falls section as described in's River Guides. It was at a good juicy level for this section which was welcome, and a beautiful 30 degree celsius+ sunny day meant I was going to bring my drytop along in the back of my boat for this one.

This section starts off at the bottom of the middle, upstream of the intended powerhouse location for the proposed run(ruin)-of-river hydro project, and you have the option of hiking up to run some quality drops to start you off.

Below here there is some flat water until you come to a rapid, this first rapid is the first and longest of 4 or 5 of a class III+/IV- section, though at this level I'd say closer to IV and might call the first one IV+. These are some fun rapids that run through micro canyons that are of the same extreme scenery experienced on the Upper, though much less impressive than those jewels, as good as they even are!

Following the rapids is a long flat water section, once you pass Clear Creek coming in on the left roadside you enter the Divided We Falls section, you shortly come to a class III rapid leading into yet another extremely scenic tight, flat water gorge then come around the corner to divided we falls! This river just keeps on giving the treats.

Divided we falls is an extremely user friendly waterfall, especially with water. There are actually 2 falls (which you can see from the road on the drive up if you stop at the right place..), divided by an island. The right side is a straight forward falls that at this level had an easily boofed flake and a soft landing. The left side is more slidey with a big tongue into a hole with undercuts on either side, so pick your poison really. Portaging is also an option. Following the falls is a large pool followed by a sloping drop into a short pool followed by a class VI sieved out drop that potentially has a line, but it would be so tight an consequential none of us were looking really, lots of the water goes under the rocks you portage over. We also portaged the drop immediately above as it just wasn't worth the risk, the eddy to get out at the sieve was a small one boater that you had to drive into some shallow rocks, which would be difficult at any higher flow to even get out, so be aware of this.

Portaging the sieve drop itself was a nightmare and required roping boats down to the lower boulders then a sketchy seal launch into the water beside the bottom of the sieve, where it was exiting from under the rocks.

After the sieve is another stretch of flat water until you come to the final drop, a 6 foot boof to chute. None of us ran it as it was higher than people had previously seen it, and lots of the water drove into the undercut right wall with a little room it looked like you could get stuck in. The seal launch portage on river left was some good fun however.

There you have it, the greatest weekend I've ever had, amazing scenery, whitewater, camping, weather, clean turquoise water. The bugs are bad though...oh are they bad! Bring bugspray! Enjoy the pics!

I will not be hesitant at all next year to head up there when I think levels are right based on gauge correlations, hopefully others will be more likely to come as well!

Amazing scenery adorns the canyons. This was the only rapid with wood in the usual line, it was moderately easily avoidable. Photo by Sylvain Sauvageau

Denny breaks in on the last portion of the first and largest rapid of the Lower. By Sylvain Sauvageau

Getting ready at the put in for the Upper. By Sylvain Sauvageau

Denny breaks in on a nice big boof. By Sylvain Sauvageau

Author fires up the second notable rapid of the Upper. By Leif Kirchoff

Annie hits the third notable while author watches and learns. By Leif Kirchoff

Author benefits from recent knowledge on the same rapid. By Leif Kirchoff

The action stacks up a bit more in the crux of the Upper first canyon. By Leif Kirchoff

Author makes the best of running the crux on French intel. By Leif Kirchoff

Author finishing the runout. By Leif Kirchoff

Annie's Crevice. By Leif Kirchoff

The tightest line at this water level. By Leif Kirchoff

Followed up with a nice boof. By Leif Kirchoff

Stacked entrance to the straight second canyon. By Leif Kirchoff

...and zoom out. By Leif Kirchoff

Sylvain runs the third drop on the Lower. By Leif Kirchoff

Denny on the main attraction of the lower, Divided we Falls. By Leif Kirchoff

The class VI seive one drop after the falls, there is a line, but much of the water goes under those rocks on river right. By Leif Kirchoff

The final rapid of the lower. By Leif Kirchoff

Denny takes a bath. By Adam Frey (author)

Denny is in there somewhere. By the author

Denny runs a cool drop with 3 distinct options entering the second canyon of the Upper. By the author

Beachside camping below the lower takeout, mind the bugs. By the author

Annie cleans the falls. By Sylvain Sauvageau

Author wishing we'd got started an hour earlier. By Denny Lunge

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Slesse Creek / Cooper River

Slesse Creek

Now that the gate is open on Slesse Creek, it's finally accessible to paddlers. For a long time I've been touting this as a great training ground for class III boaters looking to step it up.

For those seeking a thrill Ben and I went in there at high water (1.8) in late June and it was a thrilling run at that level that we agreed a class III boater would not belong on. With continuous class III+/IV- and wood everywhere down to keyhole canyon which was a rowdy, somewhat full on class IV/IV+ section at that level with a stout riverwide hole at the exit containing an obvious boof in the middle. It should be said at any level you can easily scout keyhole canyon for wood on your way up, and should do so (there is a road off the right of the main FSR early on that leads to the entrance, and you can hike an established trail with a cable fence down the exit drop). We came out of the run all smiles. We also scouted the Upper above the regular run to find a long clean of wood from what could be seen (90%) continuous class III+/IV- section at that level going almost all the way to the border (Slesse drains off Mount Baker in the states, like the Chilliwack and Tamihi Creek as well), it also had a slightly stouter section with 3 more pronounced drops, but nothing individually spectacular, though it's all pathside but the path start is difficult to find as the road has washed away at the beginning.

I'd ran Slesse Creek early in my boating life at low flows having lots of fun as well, and this last Friday finally got in there at a good medium level with Dave. The level was ideal as Dave finds himself in the nether-regions of the class III to IV boater and finding it hard to find ways to step it up within his comfort zone. Not everyone is as lucky as to have a river with a wide range of difficulty of runs on it like the Chilliwack accessible 20 minutes from home/work that makes it relatively easy to bring it up to a certain level.

As he described it, Slesse Creek is perfect because at medium flows you run down braided class III with the odd optional boof (some good ones!) while keeping an eye out for wood until you get to Keyhole canyon. Keyhole canyon is incredibly user friendly as the entrance can easily be walked, the pre-entrance drop can even be walked, and if you want to the entire short canyon can fairly easily be portaged. Though be mindful at medium flows and up once you put in below the most difficult entrance drop you are committed to the short canyon section and exit drop. Below the braided Creek continues until it marries up with Chilliwack River and shares the Chilliwack Canyon takeout.

Slesse Creek video medium flow by Dave Gerbrandt

Now onto the goods.

Cooper River

Last year I was lucky enough to fire up 2 runs on the Cooper around 1100 cfs, it was amazing, but I was still learning to boat at the time so I was fairly challenged. This year we, along with every boater in Washington apparently, had the idea to hit the Cooper at a perfect medium flow, 1500 cfs. It was a blast.

I'd say the Cooper is comparable to Canyon Creek Lewis in ultra-classicness. It is super accessible, currently super clean with no portages, only a single limbo log, a short hike down to the put in from a paved road, and great camping and usually great weather in the dry non-coastal drainage.

It is a series of ledges spaced apart with medium length pools, medium sized eddies and a couple rapids and multiple move drops. The perfect run to perfect your fading left side boof stroke on. There is one consequential keeper hole, if you get stuck in it, called Norm's Resort, which comes up surprisingly quick. This run could take a long time to fire up with scouting everything if no one knows it, but once it's dialed, laps can be done in under a half hour. I think this weekends record was 14 minutes.

Below are some photos, there are plenty more at lower levels on my August 2011 post 'Washington IV+', or if you search the internet it is very easy to find!

Annie avoiding the undercut Wall of Voodoo.

A look up at the final set on our lower water second day.

Denny running into S-bend. By Annie Lagueux.

The author boofing the standard S-bend line. Photo by Denny Lunge.

Author eating the undercut. By Annie Lagueux.

Pristine cliff jumping directly above the takeout. Look at that water. Photo by Denny Lunge.

Props to O'Conner Chrysler with hooking me up a vehicle that can easily fit a kayak inside! By Annie Lagueux.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Little Wenatchee

Bentley and I loaded up and headed down to Leavenworth for a quick weekend of boating, taking creekboats and playboats along for the local goods. Our weekend was cut short with a bout of illness Sunday, food poisoning or otherwise that stopped us from getting out and sent us home early, but on Saturday we got to fire up a run I'd written off before, that being the Little Wenatchee River.

Little Wenatchee is a great class IV/IV+ run with a good potential for wood you should always be on the lookout for. I'd always written it off as not being worth doing because of the wood that was often at the end of the 'Flume', but after Annie and Denny fired it up 2 days prior and said it was worth it, we were pretty excited to hit it up.

It is a long drive, longer than I thought, as it seems to almost parallel Highway 2 along Nason Creek but just the drainage north of it. Once you get there it is a great area with awesome camping and some nice lakes on the road up, a very secluded feel to the general area.

We got on it at 1000 cfs, lower than the 1300 cfs they'd hit it at 2 days prior. It felt like a good level if slightly on the low side of medium though. There was wood in the Flume as well as some wood shortly afterwards in the same canyon that at the higher level they'd gone over, but at this level required a sketchy one boat eddy catch and portage. The Flume portage itself was a lot nice than I thought it would be, definitely well worth doing the run despite that wood, just keep a heads up for the canyon or have someone who's run it.

The first drop, a 6-8 foot ledge with a hole and undercut and wood after, was lots of fun! Let's Make a Deal was a nice drop as well, but the real gem of this run is the crux drop and runout near the end. An exciting, and not too difficult drop that looks much more intimidating from a couple hundred feet up than it is and features a nice pinch drop at the end!

On the drive back Nason looked inviting running around 800 cfs...but our health was no longer conducive to boating by that time...maybe next time! Also missed out on some Lower Icicle laps, which will also have to wait for another day!

Annie nailing the line on 'First Falls'. Photo by Dan Bentley.

The pinch marking the end of the crux drop from high above. Most fun part of the river! Photo by Dan Bentley.

Looking down into the Flume, unfortunately, as is often the case, currently clogged with wood at the end, mandatory portage. Photo by Dan Bentley.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ashnola River and Exploratory Kayaking

I haven't been firing up the ol' writing skills as often lately, mainly because I have been doing lots of kayaking, which is not a bad thing. Winter seemed to drag on forever here in South West BC. We got in a few trips down to Washington to fire up the Wenatchee the only time I've ever seen it brown and cold and high water Ingalls/Peshastin and experience some new rivers including Money Creek, high water Lower Icicle(sans myself) and the 'Middle Middle' Snoqualmie at a good flow. We've been trying to hit Cascade Creek in Mission with good water to no avail so far as well. Slesse Creek Forest Service Road gate here in the Chilliwack River Valley is now open, which let us easily fire up a high water Slesse Creek run which was an exciting change of pace from the daily Chilliwack Canyon as well since they share the same takeout.

A large amount of time has been spent exploring. Exploratory kayaking is definately my favorite type of kayaking. I love firing up something new, with only an idea of the gradient involved and some Google Earth snapshots, that looks like it has potential. This is what really get my hairs standing on edge. I always keep a 'mission list' handy for when I can find a willing group to go check something out.

A couple things I've been meaning to check out for awhile I've finally got around to, Upper Frost Creek by Cultus Lake is marginal at best. Liumchen Creek, also in the Chilliwack River valley, looks to unfortunately have an unrunnable mega-gnar canyon in the lower reaches, had a decent side of marginal run in it's Upper reaches that we hit last year and this year Paul Harwood and I finally got into the middle section to find a marginal run down to a technical 20 footer into a committing canyon before hiking out that I'd definately like to get into someday, but is worth a closer look with how committing it actually is. Along with Ben, I also had the chance to finally find the easy trail and check out Upper Slesse Creek which features lots of km of clean class III-IV rapids that will definitely be worth firing up at least once!

Along with the Western Canoe and Kayak/Fraser Valley Whitewater crew I've also spent a decent amount of time in the Skagit drainage above Ross Reservoir(Lake) and below it's headwaters, yes this is the same Skagit that fires into Washington State. We ran the Skagit's scenic but mostly flatwater and logjammed Highway 3 to Silver/Skagit section, and while we were doing our shuttle, discovered a gem of whitewater right beside Highway 3, a canyon next to the road with some quality looking visible rapids. Skagit Canyon was definitely worth firing up, starting at 'Skagit #2' bridge it featured some decent roadside boogie with some avoidable wood into a beautiful flatwater micro-canyon before getting into the quality roadside class IV and then dropping over a 12/75/35 foot triple waterfall combo within about 300 m river length to finish off the first canyon! After much debate we hiked out after running the 12 footer and before committing to the second canyon after the waterfalls.

We also made our way up the Silver/Skagit valley and after a quick look at the wood choked Maselpanik Creek, fired up nearby Yola Creek, chronicled on Fraser Valley Whitewater, this was an enjoyable end to an otherwise fun day of checking things out. There were also various trips out to Alouette  River, draining out of Alouette Lake, to check out a stout class IV/V section with a series of waterfalls...

Whether you define missions as arduous failures or good times or both, I'm always up for one. To finally cap off the last couple months we got to fire up Ashnola in it's prime season, with lots of the crew hitting it at high water along with a look at the 6 km marker trib 'Ewart Creek', about 10 paddlers and 10 tag alongs made it to the beautiful Ashnola valley and we fired it up in it's entirety. Three weekends in a row we made the trek and it was run around 4, 3 and 2 on the gauge. Such a quality run.

Ashnola River is an absolute gem. It features 21 km of roadside continuous class IV/IV+ with only 6 or so rapids that are not completely boat scoutable. If you don't want to hit it all, definitely save your energy for the last 6 km, which is the best part. Coming in a close second and featuring the most trying section of the run (Fantasy Island) is from the red 'Cathedral Lakes Lodge' bridge about 12 or so km up, which is my personal favorite section...yes all 12 km are amazing. The section from km 12 to 21 features, from the top, a km or 2 of great steep  canyoned in boulder gardens which turn into class III for a long time with a single really good distinct road viewable rapid and chances for river wide wood, not typically clean like the bottom half. The river usually only runs for a month or two at runnable flows each spring/summer and can be caught coming up or going down typically in May and June.

It's been an amazing and busy spring! Enjoy the pics!

Tristan and Bentley on Ashnola River around 3, typical boogie for the run. Photo courtesy Jen Eddie.

Tristan Oluper potentially first dropping the 12 footer in Skagit Canyon. Photo courtesy Ryan Bayes.

Myself boofing through a good canyon strech of Skagit Canyon followed by Ryan. Photo courtesy Tristan Oluper.

The Frost Creek 10 footer marking the end of the regular hike and runout at high water (yes this is high for super low volume Frost). Photo courtesy Adam Frey.

Paul Harwood scouting the technical 20 footer dropping into middle Liumchen Canyon in the Chilliwack River Valley. The first hundred meters or so of the canyon can be glimpsed behind through the crack. There is no decent seal launch point after the falls. Photo courtesy Adam Frey.

Middle Liumchen Canyon entrance falls. Photo courtesy Adam Frey.

Upper Slesse Creek features many kilometers of clean runnable decentness much like this example. Photo courtesy Adam Frey.

Ashnola River at low water in a calmer section still features amazing scenery and typical Okanagan sun and heat! Photo courtesy Dan Bentley.

The final rapid on Upper Liumchen before we took out. Also probably the most quality rapid. This is at much higher flow than the pictures of the waterfall were taken at. Photo courtesy Adam Frey.

Myself and James on Yola Creek. Photo courtesy Ryan Bayes.