I've had a blast the past 2 weekends kayaking the Ashlu and Elaho rivers in Squamish, BC. I had no idea what to expect, the magic of the Squamish valley is undeniable. Warm nights sleeping under the stars, bonfires, good friends, and paddling epic whitewater are truly what makes these trips so memorable. Last weekend, I was able to run the Mine Run on the Ashlu river, this was possibly some of the biggest creeking I've done, the rapids were stout and I learned how to use seams and eddy lines to maneuver my boat in new ways. The run began with a 15 minute hike in to the river followed by a series of large rapids and a 15 minute portage up and around some gnar. This run is impossible to scout ahead of time as it is locked in a canyon of towering granite walls, so you are fairly committed once you put on. I liked the look of the first rapid, I felt confident about my line through it, so I went for it. It was big and challenging, but I had a blast and was able to boat with some new guys who had an incredibly positive fun energy while on the river that I forgot about how nervous I had been. Chris, Brian, Matt, Brad, and Xavier, you guys are rad!
50/50 rapid, located below the Mine run, is something I spent quite some time looking at, as it is complex and involves a lot of skill to style. I had also wanted to run the Ashlu Box Canyon badly, but at 9m it was certainly not a first time flow. I was happy with my decision not too and look forward to coming back next year to run it!
The next day Tammy, Ally, and I ran the Mini-Mine run and lapped the last waterfall several times before we were joined by Aniol and Gerd Serrasolses who laid some sweet lines down 50/50. I asked them if they were heading back to Mexico after this trip, no they are not, because they're from Spain, at least I made them laugh! These ladies are a blast to paddle with and we are planning a 3 week paddling trip to Ecuador in December, I can't wait!
Later that afternoon we made our way to Fear Canyon on the Elaho River. The canyon was huge and had a big water feel. When we put on I immediately realized half the challenge on this run was going to be battling huge boils, eddy lines, pushy cross currents, and dodging massive holes. After the first rapid I rolled in a huge v-ramp into a hole that I somersaulted through as the water was attempting to rip my paddle out of my hands, then I rolled up.
By now I was well aware of the massive power and force of this river at whatever flow it was at. The lines were fun, and every rapid had a line where most of the water flushed through it's big features. Once we arrived at the 'must-run' rapid we all got out of our boats and scouted. By this point I was uncomfortable on the run and with what I saw laying in front of me. A grueling hike out was an option, but I made the decision to run it. We talked about walking our boats as far down as we could but it was an ugly hairy ferry across some massive boils immediately above a gnarly mega hole that I didn't want to find out if it would flush me or not. So I decided to run the entire rapid, down the right and then bust through the middle of the massive river wide hole, and then again maneuver between two large holes just downstream. One person in our group decided to hike out, the rest of us made it through successfully. It's hard to beat that feeling of staring back up at a class 5 beast of rapid such as that, having made it through upright and in one piece, hands down the BIGGEST piece of whitewater I've ever boated next to Exit Drop on Tumwater. We checked discharge levels on our way back to the US, the Elaho was at 180 cms when we got off the river, much higher than recommended flows. I'm excited to boat with this crew again, it was a hell of a weekend!
This past weekend, I headed back up to Fear Canyon as it was a lot lower than the previous weekend and is the only river running within 3 hours of Bellingham. I met up with my friend Ash and his buddies from the UK, they had just gotten off a 3 day trip on the Stikine river up in northern BC. The river was at 60 cms on Sunday and I was able to boat the entire thing including the last rapid, The Pinch, which we had portaged last time.
We camped on the river that night and shared stories of our paddling adventures and made plans for more, I'm excited to boat with these guys again!
The next day we put on for more Fear laps, but I could tell the water had come up quite a bit, it was about 90 cms. I found the some of the rapids to be very challenging that day and found myself doing lots of down river freestyle moves from stern squirts to nose plugs, to a loop into a side surf, but my biggest move was surfing a sticky pour over I was unable to cartwheel out of as I kept banging against the rock so I finally had to pull my skirt. This was not fun, I was recirculated several times before I finally pushed myself into the rock and dove down as far as I could so I could swim out underneath and it worked! I was flushed and aggressively swam to the tail of Ash's boat barely making the eddy above the entrance of the must run. I was able to walk up to the top of the eddy and get on the back of Ash's boat and kick while he ferried me across the river 20 ft above a rather large hole so I could hike out of the canyon. We made it and they were able to recover my boat and paddle.
I haven't swam in a while, but I realize swims happen when you're challenging yourself on a new run. Swims are nothing to be ashamed of, I learned from it, it made me stronger, and the best thing you can do is get back on the river! I look forward to boating more up in BC, I'm hooked! #shegoes