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BC Trip Report '06

Our second voyage to research for "The River Gypsies' Guide to North America" took us back to one of our favorite paddling destinations - British Columbia. After spending a week boating with us out there, Brushy Mountain team paddler John Pilson said that it was his best week of paddling ever. We think the same thing every time we spend a week up there - which is why we keep going back. Here's the report:

Assembling the team and warming up.
Brian showed up a day ahead of schedule, and joined us for a run with some other folks we had met at the parking lot who showed us the new lines on the Cheakamus. The river had changed in a couple of places since we had been there, with a flood in late '03 opening up a new channel in one spot and creating a new waterfall!

The next morning Brian headed out to Vancouver to pick John up from the airport, and we hooked up with yet another crew for an early Cheakamus run. Among them were a couple of wandering Kiwis - Duncan and Polly - and young Taylor - a freshly college educated and newly homeless paddling bum who had just arrived after the end of a paddling season in California.

After the Cheak, we all headed down to the Callaghan takeout to await the return of Brian and John. They showed up after a while, and we set off for a run on one of my favorite creeks anywhere. As a bit of good news, "Johnny Sunshine" came through with the nice weather we had asked him to bring out for us - we would have sunny skies for the rest of our time in the Coast Range.

Unfortunately, a particularly hard boof on the first 15 footer snapped my new camera lens in half, so there are no pics from that day. As an added bummer, Scott broke his pink Micro in the runout of the 15'er and had to hike out and head home - ending the final day of his long weekend on a slightly sour note. It turned out to be a great day for the rest of us, with John running the biggest drop he had ever run fresh off the plane on his first afternoon in BC.

The next day found our crew back on the Cheakamus - some of us taking a slower day to recover from the double-header the day before, and John taking it easy to recover from all of his travels. We decided that the next day we would do the double-header again, in reverse this time - so we headed to Callaghan to start the day.

Callaghan starts with a portage around a rapid with a nasty cave, and then drops into a few hundred yards of really fun boogie water before the bottom really begins to drop out. The first falls is a 15 footer with a log right where the line used to be. The standard is now to head left to avoid the log, or to go for the boof flake right next to the log if you want a bigger thrill. Be careful on the boof line - you can land flat enough there to snap a really nice camera lens in half.

Andria working a boof on the left side line.

Unfortunately, in the runout of the 15'er Kentucky Brian tweaked his rib - necessitating a hike out and his departure from BC a couple of days before he had planned to. It was a bummer to lose him from the crew, but we hope to get to paddle with him again down the road.

The group then pushed on to the next drop - the cleanest 23 footer I've ever seen, and a drop which never gets old. Good times and good lines abounded on this one!

Johnny firing up the 23 footer

After that it was more super fun for the next couple miles of class IV+ boogie - the Callaghan is truly one of the best runs anywhere. It is also threatened by a hydro project (like most streams in the Sea to Sky corridor of BC). More people need to be screaming their heads off about what's happening to the rivers up there. This next shot that Andria got sums up the bizarre conflict of interests going on in BC.

I'll step down from the soap box now. We were moving on for our afternoon cooldown run on the Upper Cheak. Did I mention that the Callaghan and Cheakamus take-outs are less than 5 miles apart? Here's some Cheakamus for ya:

Duncan in the rapid under the foot bridge.

Duncan and John in the runout below Triple-Drop.

Johnny boofin in House Rock Rapid - which is right next to the takeout parking lot.

Having done 4 Cheakamus runs and two Callaghan runs in the last 4 days, we felt we were now warmed up and ready to hit the road to look for more goods to run.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of the River Gypsies' BC Update!