Thursday, August 28, 2008

Beginners Rock Isle Pierre!!

The Isle Pierre Rapids located on the Nechako River is an excellent place to learn some basic whitewater skills. Located just 40 minutes out of Prince George, it's a favorite run among beginners and novices and is a great introduction to big water. The Nechako River drains a significant portion of the central interior of British Columbia. By the time it reaches Isle Pierre, it has a lot of volume which gives it some push in the rapids, formed around several large rocky islands.

In some places there are large boils and strong eddy lines, and in the main rapid there's the infamous Isle Pierre whirlpool, as shown in the picture below (grade II at this level).

In high water (+3.5 m on the online gauge), the main rapid has large standing waves at the top and powerful boily water below --- often quite intimidating for beginners. You can decide to run it, like Jess Rayner in the picture below, or take the left hand channel and miss it completely.

By summer, the Nechako is also a fairly warm river as the area it drains is mostly low and mid elevation watersheds. This is a particularly nice characterisitc when swimming is a possibility. Despite being a strong swimmer, Dan managed to stay in his boat on this run pictured below. Nice work Dan!!
Halt! How dare you take my picture! I heard tube skirts were a big hit this summer. Very svelte.

Apart from Isle Pierre, the Nechako River right in Prince George can also be a decent place to practice skills like eddy turns, ferries, rolls, and all the flatwater moves you can muster. Good times! See you on the river...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Torpy Creek

Torpy Creek is a low-volume tributary of the Fraser River located about 100km east of Prince George. It was pioneered by Sean Fraser, Laura Bakermans, and Kevin Taylor in 2001. The run features two 25+ footers (one is grade 6, the other is 4+) and a ~4km grade 3/4 canyon with loads of great boof moves and rapids. The Torpy saw a flurry of local boaters in the first four years after it was discovered, but numbers dropped to zero after 2004 due to wood issues and general apathy. I figured it was time to check it out again, and so on August 24 2008, Ian Norn, Mike Brine, and I made the early morning drive into the McGregors. Even at low flows, the run is great: nice waterfall, lots of boofs, and gorgeous canyon scenery. Enjoy the pictures from the run, and click here for more shots - Hardy

Ian Norn on the stretch between the two waterfalls.

Michael Brine finishing off with a boof

Ian and Micheal style the second waterfall

Lots of nice boofs in a gorgeous canyon to take you out.

Wood is always an issue on this run

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Likely Road Trip

Last weekend a few of us did a road trip down to Likely to run the Upper Quensel and Cariboo Rivers. Having done a number of summer paddling trips to Likely since I started kayaking over 3 years ago, I can say that without question, it is one of my favorite places to boat in western Canada. Hot weather, warm rivers, and primo whitewater!! Sean and Laura made the trip out from Smithers, and Ian and I drove down from Prince George. For mid-August, levels were still pretty high (~6 on the Cariboo, and 0 on the bridge gauge for the Quesnel), and the temperatures were in the low 30s. Lots of play scattered play throughout both runs and quality big water rapids. On Saturday night we all went to the McConkey's new place up Quesnel Lake for a BBQ. Hardy and Gretchen were there as well with there lil' jibber Louise. Sunday, Trevor even managed to make it out for a surf session at the put-in wave. I'm not gonna flap about the rapids much here though. Instead, I made a video of all the named rapids on the Upper Quesnel which you can check out here:

Upper Quesnel Video (be sure to click on "watch in high quality" on the lower right of the viewing screen). I don't like to embed youtube videos because it doesn't give you the option to watch in high quality, and so the images are poor ass.

Also, Ian took some great pix from the weekend and I've posted them on our picassa site.

Likely Pictures (be sure to click on "slideshow")

Be sure not to miss the UnLikely Paddlefest held in later September, and sponsored by Adrenalin Mountain. This year's gonna be awesome, with Mamaguroove rocking the Likely Hilton on Saturday night. See you on the river!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Upper Fraser Trip Report

Last Monday, a bunch of us did the long drive east from Prince George to the whitewater section on the Upper Fraser River. Known among kayakers for its challenging rapids and impressive mountain scenery, the Upper Fraser is one of the whitewater classics in Canada. The run starts below Moose Lake in Mount Robson Provincial Park, through Overlander Falls, and into the Upper Fraser Canyon ending at Hargreaves Bridge across from the Mount Robson Information Centre.

On this trip we were joined by Brigade old school legends Rick Brine and Ed Day, both still paddling hard and in their 50s. Hardy Griesbauer, Ian Norn, Mike Brine, and myself rounded out the Prince George crew, with Graham Gerry from Quesnel and Amanda Smith from Fernie making up the rest of our group. Levels for our run was 70 cms.

After driving 3 hours from Prince George, we all stopped at the bottom of the Upper Fraser Canyon to scout the most difficult rapid on the run --- Terminator (grade IV+ at this level). Here the whole river drops into a gnarly river-wide hole. Terminator is a mandatory scout for anyone considering running below Overlander Falls. Here's a short video of Terminator:

After leaving a vehicle at Overlander Falls, we drove further up river and put on. The great thing about this run is that the rapids build slowly up to grade III before it's go time. The real action starts at Shithouse Rapid (grade IV), and continues pretty much through to the take-out from there. Below are some pix Ian took of us at Shithouse.

Following Shithouse was Eric's Hole --- a massive drop on river left that you would likely never emerge from. The line was this cool creeky bouldery sneak on the right that spits you out into the huge wave train below Eric's. After this a lot of the named rapids became a blur that Ian, Hardy, or Ed gave beta on, including Boulderdash, Holy Terror, Toilet Bowl, Otter Slide, and Staircase, all grade III+ to IV-. There were also busy stretches of grade III whitewater between the named rapids that gave the entire run a very continuous feel. The only close-call of note would be at Otter Slide, where Hardy, Amanda, Rick and I ended up way too close together above the drop. By the time I got some space and began paying attention to my line, I was way off and ended up pitoning into this jumble of boulders beside Amanda. Kind of terrifying! But also a little funny. Luckily with a little effort I was able to free myself and stay in my boat, and then share a big "wtf?" laugh in the eddy with Amanda.

At Overlander, we paused for a couple pix while Mike debated running the falls. It's a monster if you haven't seen it (grade V), and only a handful of the best decide to make the plunge. No dice for Mike on this trip but I'm guessing he's already planning for the next time. Below is Overlander Falls, followed by a picture of our group at the top of the falls.
Ian's actually run the falls a couple times, as well as lots of descents through the Upper Canyon. Unfortunately he recently put a hole in his ear creeking, and so flipping isn't an option until he heals up. This also explains the full-face in the above picture, but I can't explain the moustache other than it's totally legit.
The Canyon is a step-up from the rest of the run, with numerous grade III-IV rapids leading into Terminator. After Graham traded his playboat for Ed's creeker, he lead Hardy, Amanda, and Mike into the Canyon while the rest of us hiked out to Hargreaves to set up for pictures. It was pretty awesome to see everyone run this. To avoid the meatiest part of the drop, you had to get up on this massive ramping pillow on far river left and punch the hole at the bottom. Some had good lines like Mike and Amanda, and others not so good. Here's a bunch of pix of Terminator:

The last stretch to the take-out is a full-on blast through a number of very pushy drops that you can see looking upstream from Hargreaves Bridge.
High fives in the sunshine all around at the take-out! Really couldn't think of any other place I'd rather be. Great run, and thanks to everyone on the trip, especially Ian, Ed, and Hardy for the guidance, and Rick and Amanda for driving. Also big thanks to Ian and Rick for the great pictures.

For more pictures of the Upper Fraser trip click here (click on slideshow for best image quality).

For the full video click video here (be sure to click on watch in high quality)