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.


  1. Glad you guys found Randy and were able to check out some of the good stuff in our area, especially Cooper Canyon as it is so rarely paddled. As you may recall, there's lots of vid footage of that canyon featured in my Deep Runs the Canyon vid (search Vimeo).

  2. Yeah, we were happy that the logjam that we didn't know about in there was gone as well! We did also recognize it from your video goodness ( and blog (