Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Unfair, eh! -- BC Trip Part 2

I. Unfair!
At some point between when I hit the pool below Callaghan Falls the first time (after having run it blind) & the next morning when a gorgeous barista served me the perfect double mocha, it hit me: UNFAIR!! This place has it all -- sick kayaking, sick mt. biking, sick climbing, sick snowboarding, the ocean, beautiful warm alpine lakes, amazing access to backcountry, huge population of young progressive people, reasonable cost of living, mountain scenery to rival anywhere I've been to in the States .. & on top of it all, there's the laid-back mentality that seems to encourage the lifestyle that my friends & I live. Then there's the girls ..

A typical first conversation with any one of the bajillions of beautiful BC women might go like this:

her: Soooo, you're up from the States, eh?
me: Yeah, how'd you know?
her: Your license plate is from Washington, eh.
me: Oh, yeah ... So, what do you do?
her: I moved here from Calgary for the eeeeeeepic climbing, yeah?
me: Are you asking me a question?
her: Eh?
me: Nevermind ... I could tell you were a climber by how freaking ripped you are.
her: Thanks. Lemme guess, you came here to ride the Whistler bike park, yeah? That zone is tooootally siiiiiick, yeah?
me: No, for the kayaking & to get outta the States for a bit. But, yeah, that bike park is pretty crazy.
her: Oh, are you going up the Ashlu? That zone is sooooooo eeeeeeepic, eh? Do you know Jonaven? Would you like a Kokanee, yeah?

There's something neato about hearing a supermodel climber chick speaking Canadian, eh? The girls are socialized a little bit different up here ...

Squamish River Valley looking downriver toward the town of Squamish & the Howe Sound

Photo: Todd G.

The Tantalus Range between Squamish & Whistler

Photo: Todd G.

Icefield clinging to one of the peaks in the Tantalus. These glaciers give BC whitewater its long season.

Photo: Todd G.

This is what the water looks like on the clearwater streams in BC.

Photo: Todd G.

II. BC Class IV
The kayaking's pretty neato too. Having ended the trip on Tatlow Creek, it's pretty easy to overlook the mellower stuff like the Upper Birkenhead & Upper Ashlu. However, that's a dis, because both of those runs are of the highest quality. They're both actually pretty similar, with miles (well, kilometers really) of slimey round granite boulders, slots, boofs, some "value-added creeking" opportunities, etc. The Birk is a bigger streambed with a couple bigger rapids, while the Ashlu is a tighter, more intimate affair that runs through a series of stunning mini-gorges set in old-growth cedar & fir forests. The scenery on both these runs is amazing, & while there, you feel as if you are the only humans to have ever been there. I can't count how many times we heard "You should go to this creek, eh. It's like tooootally class IV. You just take a mellow logging road a couple kilometers outta town, eh ..." Remote but manageable boulder gardens is what "BC Class IV" boogie water is all about, & we giggled the whole way down both of these classics. I'm certain that BC Class IV would scare the shit outta more than a couple confident US class IV paddlers, but that's part of the fun of figuring out the lay of the land up here.

Upper Birk Put-in

Photo: Todd G.

Bryan sampling some BC Class IV on the Upper Birkenhead

Photo: Todd G.

Shane -- Upper Birk

Photo: Todd G.

Bryan sticking a boof into a tight slot on the Birk

Photo: Todd G.

Shane

Photo: Todd G.

Couple sticks on the Birk

Photo: Todd G.

Surveying the takeout & final gorge of the Upper Ashlu run.

Photo: Todd G.

Endall Creek confluences with the Ashlu at the takeout for the upper run. Endall is born on this glacier before it carves a brief intense gorge on its mad dash to the Ashlu.

Photo: Todd G.

III. Rogers Creek
The way Bryan tells the story, Shane calls up & sez "I'm bailing on Wyoming & coming up to BC instead! Oh, & I have 99% commitment from Todd, as long as we can hit Rogers Creek. That's all he's talking about."

Well, that's partially accurate. Rogers was a huge priority for me for multiple reasons, & not the least of which was the perfect back-to-back-to-back 20 footers. For the record though, Tatlow was an equally high priority, as was Endall Falls.

Our departure from Nicola's amazing house in Pemberton for the Lillooet Valley was delayed by a lock-in situation with Bryan's keys. Not the biggest deal really -- a call to AAA & an hour later, we were on our way out the bone-rattling washboard dirt highway along Lillooet Lake. I think I've spent too much time in Colorado, cuz I just assumed that the lake was in fact a reservoir (aren't all lakes manmade?) .. Collectively, we had about rattled our teeth out of our heads by the time we had made it to within a couple Km of Rogers. That's when we discovered that one of "Plum Crazy's" tires was flat & we were rolling on rim. Lame! Double-lame when we learned that our spare was also flat. Thus began the dealing, & so we pretty much immediately wrote off running any waterfalls for the rest of the day. We were nearly 40 Km out of the nearest town & we had Plum Crazy shimmed-up on rocks because the nice fella from the logging camp who let us use his jack had to get to work. (Did I forget to mention that we weren't packing a jack of our own?). Bryan hitched a ride back to Mount Currie to get the tire fixed & would return in his own rig hours later. In the meantime, Shane & I found a nice beach on the Lillooet for the dogs & us to wait out the rest of the day.

Flat tire situation

Photo: Todd G.

Our Lillooet paradise while Bryan was dealing with rednecks.

Photo: Todd G.

Our beach featured a grizzled old tree clinging to the banks of the Lillooet with a tangled mess of roots. Pretty cool.

Photo: Todd G.

Rogers Creek the next day was tooooootally eeeeeeepic, eh! Seriously though, that place is special -- crystal clear tourquoise water, great rapids, and the aforementioned waterfalls. One of the reasons I was so hell-bent on Rogers from the beginning is because a close friend of mine had spoken so highly of it years before & pretty much ordered me to go with him on his next BC mission. I was never able to go to BC with him before he tragically passed away, & his descriptions of running laps on the creek & camping out alongside the Lillooet stayed with me. I had been holding onto a canister of his ashes for the last couple yrs since his mom gave them to me at his memorial, & I had told myself that I would send him home when the time was right. I wasn't absolutely sure that Rogers would be the place, but I packed the canister in a dry bag just in case. It became clear that the pool above the waterfalls was the place the minute I got there -- it hit me like a punch in the throat & I knew that this was indeed the mission. After sending our boy home, we proceeded to run the shit. There's more good stuff on Rogers than just the waterfalls, but the waterfalls, with their perfect spacing, the polished pink granite, the pure green water pooling between them, & the non-threatening nature of the drops .. well, it's as good as it gets. Then you get to paddle out onto the swollen Lillooet, right to your camp spot which comes conveniently with hot springs -- it really is as good as it gets.

Spreading Charlie's ashes. His mom says "Now he'll be coursing his way toward the ocean for years & years". Yup.

Photo: Shane R.

Deep green pool just upstream of the waterfall section.

Photo: Todd G.

Bryan dropping into the first drop of the waterfall series. Day 2 low early morning light ...

Photo: Todd G.

Shane dropping in.

Photo: Todd G.

Shane floats on electric-blue aerated water en route to #2.

Photo: Todd G.

Classic angle on Bryan finding the "diving board" on #2.

Photo: Todd G.

#2 from another angle.

Photo: Todd G.

Another classic drop on Rogers.

Photo: Todd G.

Lillooet base camp. From here it's only a couple km upstream to Rogers, or a couple km downstream to Snowcap Cr.

Photo: Shane R.

TG getting some writing done at camp.

Photo: Shane R.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was looking up where to go on my next paddling trip (south america, scotland...) and wanted to see what you had to say about bc. I went to university there, and got stuck in a rut paddling the same rivers. Your writing and photos were great, but do we Canadian girls really say "eh" and "yeah" that much?

I'm definately inpired to head south (not much paddling in the Yukon in the fall) this year and check out what I've been missing all these years.

Cheers, eh:)

Todd Gillman said...

yeah, yer right. saying that all canadians talk like that is cliche & untrue. that would be like you saying all us 'mericans are Bush-Lovers.

Hm .. if i were you, i'd go somewhere tropical to get outta the yukon this fall. maybe panama or fiji. to hell with kayaking. enjoy the beach & some surfing & some frozen cocktails. Maybe some snorkeling & fishing.

Then you can spend some long weekends down in southern BC & we'll all get together for some waterfalls & kokanees, eh?

drop a line anytime! toddgillman@gmail.com

cya,
tg

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