A fairly low key celebration this year (no party at our house). We went to a documentary film presentation/speaker/dj dance party presented by Woody Harrelson, who was on tour promoting his organization, Voice Yourself www.voiceyourself.org I got to meet him afterwards because Jen knows him fairly well after dating one of his friends back in her Hollywood days. While he was preaching to the choir somewhat, it was a good reminder to keep buying organic and remembering that small actions make a big difference, and everytime you pull your wallet out, you are supporting something.....organic or genetically modified, small farmers or factory farms, bulk foods or mass-marketed, heavily packaged products.
Sorry got a little off topic there. I guess the political season is overriding the Halloween season.
What can I say...Skookumchuck is awesome! Its in the ocean, the water is crystal clear, there are seals in the eddy, starfish in the tidal pools, the wave is perfect, the people are great, the weather was good, and it all made for an awesome Birthday! Everyone gave the birthday boy a few cuts in line which I then turned into a few beatdowns on the wave. That night we all met at the BackEddy Pub for some great food, Canadain Molson, eh, and a band featuring a drummer on a Bull-like-riding-drumset, built on springs so it bounces as he plays american country with a canadian accent....awesome! Thanks for everyone who made the journey!
I'll let the pictures say the rest:
I'll let the pictures say the rest:
The Box has been on my hitlist since the first time I drove up the Ashlu River and looked down at 50/50 and the entrance in to "Commitment Canyon". It has also grown in mystery to what actually is in the canyon, hearing stories of difficult rapids and always seeing it at raging high levels. However, this run has eluded me for various reasons in the past, including earlier in this trip, and while tired and sore from the previous day, Jonaven was set to guide us down in the afternoon. So it was on! Connor, Jonaven and myself all stepped up to run 50/50 and Evan met us below the diagonal ledge, that we all opted out of. From here, it was through the most continuous section taking us through engagement drop, and into the heart of the Box canyon. While the first section is beautiful and should be hiked by everyone, even if they have no interest in running the box, it is below engagement drop when you realize how lucky you are as a kayaker to be able to see canyons like these where there is virtually no access except by kayak. The remainder of the Box Canyon is an incredible section of river. The beauty is unsurpassed, and the drops are both fun and challenging, yet surprising clean with manageable lines. Unfortunately this section of river is severly threatened by a micro-hydro project. This decision will be made very soon, and comments are still being considered. If you have any interest in seeing this canyon as I saw it, please go to the link below, click on take action and write a short letter explaining your disapproval of the project. The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and its board members will have the final say. And even more important.....go see this river...NOW!
South Creek is the next drainage up from the Ryan. After seeing the level on the Ryan, Jonaven, recommended this run because it is difficult to catch with the right amount of water (low). He also told us how long of a day South Creek is, and to get an early start. We woke at 6am, made some quick breckie, and hit the road. We made it to the creek by about 8:30, but were met with the security guard for a heli-logging operation. After convincing him to let us go up the creek, he told us about his bear attack, while we waited for a logging truck to come down. Eventually we were at the put-in, and despite the blue sky we were getting dressed into all the warm (and dry) clothes we could find, knowing we wouldn't see much of the sun down in this steep canyon. South Creek requires a very steep hike down to the edge of the canyon. From that point, we had to locate a 20 foot waterfall and a 35 footer, and rappel into the canyon between them. While Evan and Connor set up the rappel, Todd and I took a little hike down the edge of the canyon, knowing we wouldn't be able to scout the first four drops once in. Eventually all of us and our gear made it into the canyon, and after a few eddy hops we were scouting the 20 foot entrance waterfall. This waterfall drops you into a beautiful room where the walls go past vertical almost touching at the top, giving it a cave-like feel inside the canyon. The exit of the pool is an 8-10 foot double drop that then sends you to another blind ledge before the next eddy. Another 8 footer that was marginally scoutable, a few more ledges, and then we arrived at the biggest drop that can't be portaged. Its a triple slide with a hole in the middle, and a blind third drop. Connor, our trip probe, dropped in and never popped out at the bottom. Eventually we realized he was sitting in the eddy out of sight at the bottom left. A few more varied lines and we were all out of the unportageable part of the run....whew! From here the river only gains in steepness and the portaging begins. Some of the drops we portaged had new wood from the logging that would look more runnable without wood, and a touch more water. The gradient never lets up on this short run (maybe 600 ft/mile) and the portaging and running of drops continues as you gain sight of the end of the canyon. A broken boat and the increase of technical boulder drops slowed our progress, again making this run a race against the daylight. Seeing the bridge around the final corner was a sweet sight as the logging helicopter landed at the take-out right before darkness.
The Ryan river is one of the largest drainages flowing off the Pemberton Icecap. Prior to the floods of fall '03, you could drive all the way up to this icecap. But now you only make it to where the remenants of the second bridge cling to the shore. This is where our trip would start. We ferried across the river, hiked up to the logging road, and began our 5k hike uphill. We were told to hike to the next bridge, but after hiking what we felt was 5 kilometers, and looking upriver at a long flat stretch, we decided to get in. As the boulder gardens quickly grew steep enough to lose sight of the majority of the lines, the group experienced a little communication break-down. After a little group huddle, we were back on track, eddy hopping and scouting our way downriver. The drops seem to never stop and almost build in steepness and difficulty. One of the biggest and best drops is seen in the pictures below. Another big drop was only run by Bryan and Jonaven. As the sun fell closer to the horizon we were glad when Jonaven recognized the old put-in to the "middle" Ryan where the run eased up a bit in gradient, but stayed fun and technical all the way to the washed out bridge where once again we hiked up to the trucks just in time to watch the darkness of the North set in.
After waking up early (and Bryan waking earlier), loading the cars, stopping for coffee, stopping for gas, stopping again for US-tax-payer's-subsidized-cheaper gas before the border we finally made it into Canada and met Bryan Urakawa in Squamish. A quick lunch followed by some "original Thai formula" Red Bull (not that the four cases in our cars weren't already enough), and we were headed up the Ashlu. After manuevering around the heli-logging operations (yes, they are up there now, too) we parked at the bridge, followed Jonaven's well cut trail along the river left of the box canyon, scouting all the necessary rapids. (by the way, they are all necessary) While the Connor was ready to fire up 50/50, Bryan and myself, voiced the concern of the dwindling daylight. That coupled with the fact that none of us had been through the Box, and we opted for the Mine Run. I quickly experienced the Mine Run's changes since the flood with a little hole surf in the Mine Rapid. For those of you who don't yet know, you now have to move rather aggresively to the right at the big boulder. From here, I showed the gang how to run the lower mine drop upside down...so much for a guide down the mine run!? Eventually we came to the portage. I had heard the stories of this eddy changing and people missing it and swimming the portage, and while sitting above this eddy I was very happy to hear that Bryan was willing to be the first to catch this eddy. Another note to people headed for this river: This eddy is very small, guarded a little by a rock and requires punching a lateral to catch--be prepared. One more near tandem surf below the Mini-mine run put-in by Evan and myself, and we were at "last tango". A few pitons by the kids as the old guys gave boof lessons and we were hiking up to the truck with a few minutes to spare before darkness.
Connor Finney and Evan Ross drove from Colorado through some inclement weather arriving last night for the BC Birthday Boating week. We all started watching the gauges getting excited about the options while we waited for Todd Gillman to arrive via plane. Two years ago, Todd, came to visit me in Squaw and landed during a blizzard where I sped him to the hill to shred the new powder. We were looking to repeat this experience with a drive from the airport to Earnies, but the flow was a little higher than the group was looking for so we headed to Fall in the Wall for a warm up for our week. After picking up Bryan Urakawa, we enjoyed a Wyoming Trip reunion (see below). FITW, while on the low end, turned out to be exactly what everyone was into--a few waterfalls and slides that were not too demanding.....isn't that what every kayaker is into??? However, Connor and Evan weren't totatly satisfied until the ran the drop below Rootball, while all the old guys ran safety. This run started the trend that would become the signature of the trip...taking off the river with about ten minutes of daylight remaining.
Fall is a great time in the northwest. Foggy mornings give way to blue skies and the fall colors. And while the shadows are growing long and the days become short, we are left with clear skies in the afternoon with beautiful views of the mountains. However, this will all be changing next week as there is rain in the forcast.