Monday, September 21, 2009

UnLikely Paddle Festival 2009

If you can imagine a huge posse of paddling friends from all over western Canada, a couple of kick ass whitewater rivers, a party with live music near a historic setting, and some great Cariboo hospitality - then you've got the scene for the UnLikely Fest. During the third weekend in September, paddlers gather in the small community of Likely BC for this annual celebration. This festival has always been a wicked fun way to mark the end of summer and wind down our paddling season in the north.
This year marked the 150th Anniversary of the town of Quesnel Forks, shown as it was historically in the above picture from 1885. Located at the confluence of the Cariboo and Quesnel Rivers, the Forks once had a population of a few thousand - mostly miners that came to the area for the Cariboo Gold Rush. By 1950 however, it had been mostly abandoned and became a ghost town. It remained this way until just a few years ago when the community of Likely started to restore some of the old buildings on the remains of the townsite. Now it's not only a great paddling destination but an impressive piece of BC history.

To celebrate the big anniversary, most of the festivities this year were at the Forks instead of in Likely. So on Friday night after a few rounds at the Hilton, we rolled into the Forks campground which was packed with kayakers, rafters, and campers. Good times! The next day the plan was to run the Upper Quesnel.
While toned down from higher water levels earlier in the year, the Upper Q was still at a super nice playful level --- about 0.6 m on the online gauge. Above pic is our club President Chad Ridsdale surfing near First Drop, and below is PG old skooler Ed Day throwing ends on the put-in wave. Saturday we managed a couple runs on the Q, with Deanna and Tlell making their first successful descents. Have to hand it to Deanna who hung in through a couple good beatdowns, and also to Ty Smith who showed up outta nowhere after a summer of canoeing in Ontario, and did the entire run to the Forks. Gotta be stoked on that dude! Below is Smithereen Tlell Glover shredding the Bullion Pit wave, and me getting ejected off the same wave.

Saturday night was a loosely organized jam at the Forks, headlined by Drum and Bell Tower, aka Brent Morton (check out his tunes here: Drum and Bell). He played a solid set of original tunes and I think most of us would have liked to have heard more of him but.... it was an open stage so yep. As far as the other performers go, it was some kind of folk-screamo-rap thing. Or maybe Korn meets Leonard Cohen unplugged? Still a good time round the fire though.
Sunday morning already? Let's go paddling!! Woot!! We hooked up with Cam's gang from south coast as well as Savard's crew and headed to the Upper Cariboo. Water levels were surprisingly up, around 4 or 5 on the rock gauge. Despite our good intentions, it was decided that Cariboo Falls was too high to run, as shown in the picture below. Some great excitement through the first few drops though.

At the bottom of the biggest rapid there was some decent carnage, when Deanna swam and all these guys rushed to her rescue. In the ensuing chaos, Jesse broke his paddle after trying to roll up off someone's boat, and ended up slicing open Cam's spraydeck with the sharp end of his broken paddle before swimming. No harm done though, as Jesse c-1'ed the remainder of the Upper. Once we got to the bridge at the bottom of the run, Tlell, Deanna, and I decided to carry on to the Lower Cariboo, pictured below.
What an awesome weekend! Huge props to Mark Savard from Red Shreds for organizing this year's festival, and also to Ryan and others for the shuttle driving, flapjack flipping, and the constant enthusiasm. Finally, special thanks to Deanna's parents for the delicious borscht, shuttles, pictures, and goodies. Cheers!!

That's all from the Brigade for now, probably until our Annual General Meeting which will be held on October 29th. Check the forum for more details. And hey, the season ain't over yet so get yer gaskets fixed and see you on the river...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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