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.