Monday, April 03, 2006

Vancouver Island Pt. 1

Having just completed my contractual work commitments to a certain outdoor industry company, I found myself with a bit of time on hand. My plan was to hit the street looking for more work. And while that part hasn’t really changed, when the opportunity to get outta the city to shoot some whitewater paddleboating presented itself, well, I couldn’t pass it up.

Boomer called to tell me that he & some boys from Hood River were going south to hit some early Cali runoff. “How south?” I asked .. “Uh, I dunno. We heard the Cosumnes is running & the Tule & Kaweah, I guess.” Tule & Kaweah are sick, I thought, but that’s pretty deep & would take a lot of time. I mean, you’re practically in Mexico down there, amigos. I didn’t have the tiempo or the pesos for such a trip, so I made a couple calls.

A trusted contact out on the Peninsula raved for a half-hour straight about Vancouver Island. As I talked to him, I struggled to keep up, scribbling notes on names of runs & any other supporting info that would help my case when pitching the idea to the HR crew. “Back-to-back waterfalls”, “Waterfalls everywhere”, “Cali granite”, & “You’ll come home exhausted” were just a couple of the bullets I was able to record. Seconds after hanging up with Colby, I was on with Boomer relaying what I’d learned. Boomer’s response was funny. He sounded almost dejected. “Aww, we just decided for sure on our plan for California … lemme call you back.” 2 minutes later, phone rings: “OK, we’re in! Meet you at your house tomorrow night!” click …

At that point, I hadn’t yet made contact with anyone up on the Island to confirm that things were actually running or even where the runs were. Van Island is pretty big after all. But within a half-hour, Victoria local Jan Dettmer (don’t pronounce “Jan” like an American. He’s German; it's "Yawn".), had already gotten back to me saying he’d be down for showing us around. We lined up a cheap 1-room cabin in Pt. Renfrew .. and 2 nights later, after a brief stop in Bellingham for grocery & Fat Tire provisions for the week, we found ourselves admiring the views from the deck of the Tsawwassen - Victoria ferry. Then we bobbed & weaved our way toward the zone of “waterfalls everywhere” in the pitch black night, along a road that made the Sea-to-Sky highway seem flat & straight by comparison.

Our a.m. plan was to meet at the takeout of Harris Creek at 11. The directions were something to the effect of “Take the main road out of PR, cross the San Juan, it turns into a logging road, take a right at the T, take a left at the fork & you’ll cross a bridge with substantial whitewater upstream. That’s the takeout.” Easy enough, & given that PR’s within like 20 min’s of all the runs we were looking to hit, we were afforded a leisurely pace with plenty of time for a soak in the hot tub & a huge breakfast.

The “substantial whitewater” marking the t/o for Harris. Unfortunately we lost this beautiful light by the time I set up an action shot here.

Our tour guide. We started calling him "Jan De Fuca" with respect to his knowledge of local surroundings first explored by Juan De Fuca .. or something like that.

Harris proved to be a perfect way to start the trip. It’s BC Roadside, which is always a plus, 3 Km long, & totally stacked with technical moves. It lends itself to multiple laps. Jan thought we were on it at a high-medium level. There were definitely some pushy sections, but once you have the lines dialed, you can pretty much blast it.

Boomer in one of the steeper sections on the run.

Todd Anderson styling a big boof line.

The gorge ends abrubptly in a deep, beautiful flatwater pool. John Minerich aka Johnny Utah exiting the gorge.

The water on all the streams we paddled was the color of a Heineken bottle .. emerald green, not the tourquoise blue like on the mainland, but every bit as beautiful.

At the t/o of the first run, I peeled my skirt to find my boat filling up with water. Big crack in the hull. For the rest of the day I contented myself with racing up & down the canyon with Austin shooting pics from the rim of the gorge.

Austin Rathman has an HD camera & he ain't afraid to use it.

Later that night, Jan lent his tools & experience to help me patch the ginormous crack in my hull using plastic from the inside of my cockpit rim, a heat gun, a camp stove, sticky tar tape, & duct tape. The result wasn’t the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen, but I was surprised that it seemed to be something I’d actually use in real whitewater.

Here are some more pics from the day.

Jan De Fuca paddles a C-1 Dagger with at least 5 patched cracks in it.

Jan again.

Ladies & gentlemen, introducing Mr. Todd Anderson .. Hood River Represent!

Van Island is heavily logged & hideous clearcut scars were everywhere. The positive side of this is that the logging roads are well-maintained .. to the degree that Jan De Fuca rallies all over the island in a little Toyota Corolla. It also means that logging truck traffic is heavy.

This trucker guy was so stoked to see kayakers on the Harris.

I will post about the rest of the trip later in the week. Also Bryan is working on a new TRL vid segment featuring some cool Rocky Mountain USA footage, so stay tuned!

No comments: