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Stikine! (Possibly just as exciting, a new update!)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 October 2010 23:04 Monday, 04 October 2010 19:17
Anyways, the Stikine is sick. The scale of the entire endeavor is huge. A huge drive to get there, a huge flatwater paddle to get to the Grande Canyon, huge rapids, huge walls, huge waves, huge rocks, huge holes, a huge portage. It's all huge.
At Entry Falls the walls loom up and the river presents a new character. Scouting from high above the rapid looks pretty simple, at water level it looks pretty big. Watched over by the keepers of the Stikine we cruised through Entry Falls and into the gorge while the great white Mountain Goats watched from their rocky perch. Wicked Wanda was sick! A huge ramp beside a giant hole and a massive runout wave train between giant black canyon walls. This rapid was a great indicator of the scale of the rapids to come. Had we not just charged into it blind maybe we would have been relieved to know that one of the named few was behind us. 3 Goats presented a different line at our low water level. Punch the hole left and drive left of the giant rooster to finish. Upper Pass/Fail looked sick from river left. We decided to portage and took turns dealing with a nerve wracking ferry back to river right to do so. From our new vantage point it looked like there was a line but we were already out and on our way over the rocks so we continued to portage. Pass/Fail proper looks big and feels huge. Blasting from river left to right to avoid the beating a failure gets was an even bigger move than it looked from river right. The river seemed to be screaming as I passed by the giant splitter rock that marks the way to a Pass. Next up is Wasson's and the scout is from a pretty amazing distance. Peering downstream from high on river right we could see a hole that was throwing up a decidedly weak and broken foam pile. The left to right above Wasson's Hole would have worked but we were conservative and went for the ramp through the river right hole instead. As Bryce disappeared over the lip it was clear that the drop here was nothing to be scoffed at. Cresting the lip to see Mikkel rolling up was another surprise and that was followed by the panick to get upside down as it became clear I was going to run him over as he got surfed in a small crashing wave. Upright and seeing that Mikkel was fine was quite the relief. Broken ribs or a similar injury would have been a nightmare. Camp 1 waited downstream and the named rapids of Day 1 were over. All that was left of the day was to set up camp and decide what to do about the Site-Z portage.
Our next bit of real excitement came as Bryce, boat in hand, slid down a steep scree slope and launched off a cliff and out of sight. Hearing his boat hit the rocks below let us know that he hadn't fallen too far but not hearing anything from him made me wonder if he was hurt. A few seconds later, the seemingly invincible, Bryce hopped up over the rocks and back into view. No bruises, no scratches, nothing. We dropped out boats and headed back to camp to get some sleep. Breakfast, tear down, pack up and we were on our way across the boulders and across the sketchy scree slopes back to the far end of Site-Z. Low water meant the Hairy Ferry wasn't too bad and Day 2 was on. I'm a little foggy on what came before The Wall but I know that there is a big, beater hole on river left that should be avoided. After getting a good beating in that hole I will never forget it, that's for sure. Garden of the Gods happens as the walls recede and the gorge gets a much more open feel just in tome to hit Beach Camp and the overhang that provides shelter from the rain.
Well rested and geared up we headed into Day 3 knowing that the big rapids were stacked on top of each other. Garden of the Gods was pretty cool. Giant boulders and huge pillows with big holes to avoid. This one is long and made for a super fun read and run section of whitewater. Bryce styled The Wall 2 and Mikkel and I took the portage knowing Scissors was just downstream. Scissors was a giant ramp with diagonals from each side swallowing the green tongue that lead to where they colided. The hole that ate Chicago was a sick ramp into a ledge hole on the right. Knowing that V-Drive was far enough downstream would have made the decision to run the Hole that ate Chicago more likely. As it was V-Drive seemed close and we weren't sure what the low water would do to it. To our dismay, the low water turned V-Drive into a 2 foot ramp into a 10 foot foam pile that pushed hard into the river left rocks. The silver lining was that we were able to walk on river left and put in for a big ferry out above the pillows crushing against the left wall. Tanzilla let us know that the worst was over but it didn't mean we were done. A few more no-namers and we were cruising our way to the pick up. Fortunately, our ground crew had gotten the message from Rebecka to pick us up at the Tahltan confluence rather than Telegraph Creek. Lianne and Blair had the van and the beverages ready and they were definitely a welcome sight when they showed up on river right.
The weather, the water level, the crew, the timing, it all worked out and the trip was awesome. I hope I get to go back! Thanks Mikkel, Bryce, Blair, Lianne and most importantly, thanks Rebecka.
Make sure to check out Mikkel's write up here and his video Yoho as well.
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