Sunday, July 31, 2005

Unexpected Summer Holiday -- BC Trip Part 1

Losing a "real job" is really no different than losing any other kind of job. The overwhelming feeling of dread & uncertainty finally gives way to levity & a period of burdenless bliss .. of course, I don't have a wife 'n kids or a mortgage to tie me down, so that helps grease the wheels a bit, I suppose. At any rate, there seems to be a fleeting window of opportunity to actually enjoy the freedom of unemployment before having to succumb to the societal pressures & necesseties to make money & "achieve". I fashioned a plan that combined some travel to Jackson, Wyo, with a work-like art event that could possibly help shed some light on what I wanted to do with myself going forward, or even create some new opportunities. At the very least, this trip was going to be fun, as is always the case when the JH mafia is involved.

TG hanging with snowboarding legend Bryan Iguchi & artist Mike Parillo at the Work In Progress Art show in Jackson.

Photo: Brooke

Willie McMillon racing us on the way to a camp spot near Jackson.

Photo: TG

C-Dub building the fire in front of a stunning sunset over the Teton range.

Photo: TG

Seattle-based Range Lifer, Shane Robinson, was already in the Rockies visiting friends & fam, & getting a bit of boating done too. His plan was to meet up with me & the Wyo crew for some first-descents in the Wind River range. Shane had already made 2 trips out to Wyoming in less than a year looking for sweet new creeks, & both trips consisted mostly of long, hot treks with tons of gear, & ultimately yielded disappointing results. Our upcoming trip would involve two of the longest hikes on record & would take us illegally into tribal lands, on top of not really knowing what we would find once we got into these canyons. With this in mind & with the departure date being pushed back almost a week, Shane easily got me to consider bailing on the Wyoming mission to head to the "sure thing", the promised land: British Columbia. All I needed was a confirmation from Bryan that he'd be able to get me back to Wyo/Montana on his way east the first week of Aug.

I battled a bit in my own mind over whether this trip would be the "wise" thing for me to do .. & then I had a long, late-night conversation with my friend Willie while in Jackson. I don't remember exactly what he said to me that brought clarity, but it hit me hard & I decided at that moment that I was going to BC with Shane. I wanted to do it & I needed to do it. Trips like these are great for soul-searching, & i figured it would be a good opportunity to see what the PacNW had to offer. Two days later, Shane & I were headed out of J-Hole, & I was sure I had made the right decision. A day or two of checking out Seattle & then we were headed up to Squamish to meet up with Bryan Smith & Jonaven Moore for some whitewater paddleboating adventures & other assorted BC shenanigans.

Rado & Corey-dog wrecked shop & owned the dog park at Lake Washington in Seattle.

Photo: TG

After speaking with Bryan in Squampton about his first D of Endall Falls, we were antsy to get busy with getting north. We decided to skip out on plans to see Sufjan Stevens in concert in Seattle to get up to the hot zone in time to cover the first event of the Whistler Cup race series -- maybe Shane could put together enough footage for a segment to be submitted to LVM, & maybe I could shoot a photo or two worth selling to some sucker. We arrived at the takeout for the Upper Cheak (pronounced "check") at what had to be 7 pm, & what turned out to be perfect timing. Bryan was already there, & the competitors meeting was about to take place.

I was worked after a long day of dealing with Friday border traffic, & honestly wasn't planning on kayaking, especially given the time. That's when Shane informed me that not every BC creek involves hours of bushwhacking, route-finding, rappelling, portaging, freezing glacial water, & grizzly bears. Seriously? Guess I was mis-informed. Along with easy roadside access, beautiful scenery & warm-ish water, the Cheak offers a "new" waterfall feature that was created by a recent massive flood. During the flood event, the river totally changed course & carved out a new bedrock gorge & a nice fifteen footer with a sticky hole just below the put-in -- it looks like it's been there for millenia.

C-1'er racing Triple Drop on the Upper Cheak.

Photo: TG

Braden Fandrich has done a killer job of organizing the Whistler Cup & catering to the local boating community. There were probably 20 guys racing & another 30 or so people there just to watch & cheer on the racers. The start of the event was set for late in the evening to allow the participants to race after getting off work. This made for poor video & photo conditions, so we didn't stress too much about covering all the rapids, opting to enjoy the paddling instead.

The whole Range Life crew was in the same place for the first time & the coming days promised to be epic in spite of Jonaven being sidelined with multiple injuries ... More reports to come!

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