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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:

Epic and Recovery.
After a superb celebration of our great Rogers Creek run, we arose the next day and set out to scout a few more creeks for whitewater possibilities. One creek appeared too small, and another we couldn't get to due to access problems. We finally settled on Snowcap Creek, which locals had told us was class IV like the Cheakamus with one bigger rapid. Thinking we were in for an easy romp, we shuttled up and put in for an evening run around 4pm.

By 7pm we had portaged about 5 epic logjams and two class V rapids, one of which I would give a V+. The river had finally become more runable - shortly before dropping into an inescapable gorge. I climbed up a gully and skirted the gorge to try to get a view of the next rapid. It was good to go, but there was another rapid going around the corner which I couldn't see the bottom of, couldn't get to for a scout, and above which it didn't look like you could get out of your boat. This is not a happy situation to be in at 7pm. Time to hike out.

Three roped pitches with the boats got us to where we could thrash through the brush carrying our boats. Every time we would try to skirt along the rim of the creek gorge, cliffs would force us to keep scrambling higher and higher on the ridge. We topped out on a knob right as the evening alpenglow lit up the ridge across the valley from us - treating us to a spectacular view which we hoped we would not still be seeing in the morning. We finally got to do some downhill walking through more thick brush, finally breaking into a clearcut just at dark. This is where we left the boats, and forced our way through thick brush, crossing several mid-shin deep muck filled bogs and ultimately stumbling into a road about 20 minutes after leaving our boats. Another 25 minutes or so down the road we were finally reunited with our shuttle vehicles, and I got on the program of heading up the 45 minutes of 4x4 road to fetch the put-in vehicle. All in all, I was just really happy that I didn't have to sleep in all of my wet paddling gear in a bog under some brush in a bear-infested clearcut.

The next day we drove back up the road we hiked out on, finding that we had left our boats only about 50 yards from the road. After recovering our boats, we decided that options were getting slim for more boating in the Lillooet Valley, so we headed out and over the pass to an old favorite of ours - Cayoosh Creek.

You know you're going the right way when you see a sign like this.

Cayoosh is a stellar class IV/V run which has easy access to put in from a highway, a good road to the takeout (where you can camp for free), and runs through a deserty landslide-filled gorge about 1000 feet below the road. It makes for a great day of paddling, which we were happy for after our not-so-good experience at Snowcap.

Sometimes it's nice to put in from a highway.

After a bunch of good boogie water (most folks don't know that BC stands for "Boogie Continuous"), the first hard stretch of Cayoosh starts. The portaging and scouting are tricky on the slippery scree slopes, but this time we ran all of the rapids in the upper gorge.

Polly and John in some nice early boogie water.

Johnny P. stylin' on the big drop.

Cayoosh canyon opens up through some more sweet continuous class IV after the first hard stretch, then necks down into a final mini-gorge at the end.

The last gorge has a class IV entrance rapid, then you have to punch this hole to get in.

Taylor styles the last rapid of the mini-gorge.

At the end of Cayoosh, we had to start heading back over toward Whistler since John had a flight home to catch in a couple of days, and Polly, Duncan, and Taylor were all planning to make it to Skook for the weekend. There would be time for some more paddling along the way, though...