Saturday, July 5, 2014

Summer time...

First off the Willow is prime for play so grab your boat and get down there!

Two generations setting up for synchronized loops - Photo Kim

Looking back at a great spring... 

Bowron Boating

The Bowron river saw a bunch of boating as the Boulder Section is a great early season spot that provides a great bouncy class II run with minimal shuttle needs (bike, hike or drive all are good!). With some new boaters and SUP'ers out on the water and whole lotta fun to be had.

The Portage Canyon Section also saw some action and a bunch of hiking as well.  The road to the take out has degraded to a fun 4x4 with Al and Phil roughing it out so it was passable.  The log jam that use to sit river left in the canyon is gone and at high flows left, right and even a boof over the big rock middle left are possible... although I would recommend the standard middle right line.  
P.S. Now that the wood is gone the wave in Portage looks nice and green... 

East Line

The annual pilgrimage out to the McBride area hit full swing this year with the Holmes and Dore seeing several runs in  the cold snow melt leading up to the annual paddlefest. 
Not much to say other than YeeeHaw! (and mind the holes)
Bouncing Down the Dore - Photo Norno

More Dore - Photo Norno

Nacho in Beaver Falls - Photo Norno

Road trippers

Al and I made the trip out to Grande Cache for the Paddle fest and had a great time.  Met up with some of our friends from Alberta and got on the Musky, Smokey and Sheep.
I know I'll be going back as the boating was top notch! (although my photography is not)

The Cottonwood saw a trip as well with some carnage in Jimmy Jack Joe and some great boating with the Quesnel crew.
Graham leading into Kickoff

Jimmy, Jack Joe

Nevin getting ready to meet a hole...

Annual PG Paddlefest 

Once again we headed east to take in the Robson Valley and the great hospitality of Loos.
A small turn out and some higher water on the Morekill didn't bring us down as a good crew pulled of a run on the Morekill below the falls.
Grade 5 hike to put on

Last words before the put on

Scouting Horseshoe falls

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 And runs on the Dore and Holmes rounded out the fest until next time. (or until I get some more pictures and video).

Monday, February 10, 2014

Winter and warming up to Pool Sessions

Winter in PG can be cold, snowy and offers surprisingly few kayaking options besides hitting the road and heading south or out to the coast. 

That doesn't mean the Brigade stops or there is nothing going on. Folks are hitting the pool or getting in some time on the snow to keep them out of trouble.
Of course it is also fun to sit back kill a few cans and watch the videos that were put together last season featuring some brigade boaters, local ish rivers etc...

Winter is a great time for new boater to spend some time thinking about boating, looking into gear and getting into the pool to work out one of the fundamental skills for whitewater kayaking... the roll.  The interwebz is full of really good instructional videos that break down the roll and provide insight into some of the techniques that are integral to getting down the river. 

Chris at H2O Dreams has a great set of videos that cover all sorts of kayaking stuff (from gear and how to get into it to big playboating moves) check ‘em out.

Another great source for instructional style videos:

And there are a host of paddling blogs worth checking out.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

We're not just a whitewater kayaking posse

This past summer (August 2013) Leanne and I (pictured above) had an opportunity to paddle the Broken Group Islands in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The Broken Group are a network of approximately 100 islands off West Coast Vancouver Island. The network of small islands allows for sheltered sea kayak touring on an otherwise exposed coastal region. West coast Vancouver Island is, in general, a rich ecological and cultural area. It is home to five different first nations and tribes, many of whom live in isolated coastal areas. Most noticeable during our visit was the fact that we were recreating in a temperate rainforest. In nearby Port Alberni (100kms West of Ucluelet) the weather was as dry or drier than the Okanagan. The Ucluelet, Tofino, and Pacific Rim regions were lush this past August. This was an advantage we revelled in to enjoy midsummer, beachside campfires (campfire bans restricted opportunities for fires in most southern part of the province for most of the summer months). 
We opted for a guided day kayak tour with Majestic Ocean Kayaking for our adventure. A torn left rotator cuff injury was a factor in seeking ways to avoid long crossings from Vancouver Island to the Broken Group. Options for manageable crossings do exist. I found a great resource in a superb guide book authored by John Kimantas. In preparation for our trip I purchased his book "The BC Coast Explorer." The book offers great trip advice, invaluable info on the cultural and ecological significance of many areas, and detailed, kayak touring specific maps that aid in trip planning. However, local knowledge for any paddling trip should never be underestimated. The assistant guide on our trip described an easy, efficient, launch and route for reaching the Broken Group not described in the most recent guide books.

Majestic Ocean Kayaking provided a sea taxi to the Broken Group. Two proficient guides led us through a maze of islands and calm, and sheltered waters. They interpreted the sea life below us, and allowed us to leisurely enjoy the rugged landscape that revealed itself around each point we navigated. Despite the constant rain throughout our tour, we enjoyed our experience. The taxi operator had recently taken an interest in crafting traditional Greenland-style touring kayak paddles and had offered his prototype to the assistant guide to try for our tour. The guide subsequently offered the paddle to me. After a few awkward strokes, I couldn't put it down. I initially doubted it's ability to efficiently propel me through the water. However, after paddling with it for five minutes I was amazed by the single piece of cedar's ability to "pop" out of the water, and the effortlessness involved with each stroke. The smell of of the cedar paddle was also a reprieve from the carbon fibre contraption and over-used/under laundered gear I was accustomed to.

Leanne and I used a combination of Bed and Breakfasts and campgrounds for accommodations during our trip. The B&B's were "hit and miss." We had an exceptional experience at the tour operator's accommodations Private accommodations and a much needed soak in the seaside hot tub awaited us there, along with a comfortable room and a great breakfast the next day. For supper in Ucluelet we recommend Hank's They serve great local fare on a menu that is constantly evolving. We also stayed at Wya Point Campground during our time on West Coast Vancouver Island. Although somewhat dysfunctional as an operation, this is probably the best private campground camping available in the country simply due to it's location. We camped beachside, with crashing surf and the smell of the ocean outside our vestibule. We relaxed evenings with a campfire and the sound of crashing surf as we nursed craft brews from Tofino Brewing Co. (Leanne's fav was Reign in Blonde while mine was Tuff Sessions).

We had a great time on the West Coast of the Island. Expect rain even if it's bone dry for the rest of the province. The advantage is that you'll still be able to have a campfire and you'll enjoy lush scenery wherever you go. A sea kayaking course is recommended if you intend to navigate coastal waters on your own (Paddle Canada Level 2 skills award recommended). Otherwise, guided trips are the way to go.