Wednesday, July 06, 2005

More on the Ashlu Drainage

I have celebrated the 4th of July the past three years with a solid kayaking trip. Convinced that this is the best possible way to celebrate the holiday, Drew and I teamed up again for second year in a row of epic boating over the 4th. Ethan Smith and Drew rallied up to Squamish on Saturday and we cleaned our palletes with a Callaghan and Upper Cheak afternoon combo. I'm sure I will say this countless times in the coming months, but the Callaghan is just way to perfect of a creek to be true. About as good of access as possible, quaility boogie water all through out, 15 foot and 25 foot waterfalls which each have wicked boofs, sun shines through the entire canyon, and once you know the lines you can bomb it in 45 minutes. We made short work of the Callaghan and Cheak, witnessing on both runs a woman from Ottawa (with a seperate crew) put a big van in the ditch. First it was the put-in for the Callghan. Both driver's side wheels fully hangin' off the road and almost a roll onto the roof. Then at the take out of the Cheak. Same van, same driver...cuts the turn to sharp pulling in and high centers on a tree stump. I hope the weekend got better for them.

We made the call to head back down to Squamish and then spend the next two days up the Ashlu. Stocked with food (except pasta which was a really important piece) and camping gear, we piled three creekers and Drew's bike on my truck and headed up the valley. The plan was to head up for the upper Ashlu Sunday and then make a call based on levels for Monday. We got the upper Ashlu at about the same flow as last week...maybe a tad lower. It is an extremely high quality run. It is loaded with boofs, lots of drops in the 5-8 foot range, very scenic, and overall a fun, lower stress creek run. Drew and Ethan had never done the run and came off all smiles. Drew ran the bike shuttle and within 300 yards encountered a big black bear. It ran right away, but then stoped, took a big shit in the middle of the road, and then continued on. Drew showed us the fresh pile on the way out. The Ashlu is wild country for sure.

With Drew off on bike shuttle, Ethan and I hiked into a 45-50 foot waterfall on Endall Creek. It it is only a 20 minute hike from the take out and opens up some amazing views. The 50 footer looks sick. A bit of a mission as everything above and below is gnar.

the view looking up to the source of Endall Creek

photo by Bryan Smith

a very clean, beautiful 50 footer

photo by Bryan Smith

After Drew's encounter with the bear and one other sighting, we decided to play it safe and stop to cook dinner away from camp. There is one giant old growth cedar grove that was left behind on the drive back down. We stopped here to cook dinner and quickly we discovered no pasta for the smoked salmon, mushroom, and onion sauce. We made due with some soup mix Ethan had and some other treats. This grove of yellow cedar is amazing.

cooking dinner in the shadow of two giant yellow cedars

photo by Bryan Smith

The plan for camp was the take-out for the Tatlow. With water levels hanging medium, it seemed like it had a really good chance of being in. To get to the take out for the Tatlow, you have to cross a huge washout. It is class 5, 4wd low material without a doubt. I was pretty sure that my truck had limited chances of making it, but was willing to look. Suprisingly it looked OK, but required some precision. I dragged the hitch in a few places, but pulled it off. If you can make this move you are laughing. The road from here up is just overgrown without any real washouts. We arrived at the take-out as it was getting dark. The view up the Tatlow is stunning. I think it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

the view at the take out for Tatlow Creek

photo by Bryan Smith

It rained hard all night, but was clearing by the time I wook up. With Drew and Etan still out, I decided to have a close look at flows. It seemed big at the take out, but it is so hard to tell with the big pool. In the above photo you can see some aeration in the pool. This was a decent indicator. At perfect flows there is very little aeration in this pool. I still was not convinced and eager to get on the run if it was not too high. So I went on a mission through the BC hellafuck to get a look at some of the lower drops. The last three drops looked reasonable, but I also knew the crux of the run was not too far upstream. At high water the 8 foot ledge to 40 foot slide that you must go right on gets really tough. Once I got a glimpse of this drop it was pretty clear that the Tatlow was a bit too high from all the rain. I was soaked and headed back to find Drew and Ethan.

the 40 foot slide near the bottom of Tatlow Creek

photo by Bryan Smith

Drew and Ethan were eager to check out the creek and convinced me to hike back up and check out the lower drops. After that mission and breakfast we decided to head to the Mine Run as plan B.

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