Monday, May 15, 2006

Van Island Invasion Cont'd

Alternate Title: "The 'Not Sad' Waterfall Pics Are At The End!"


Picking up where I left off previously ...

We reached the bridge (takeout for the upper Kokish waterfall run) & most of the team decided to continue down the Lower Kokish, which quickly doubled or tripled in volume just downstream of the bridge. Bryan, Travis & I decided to spend the rest of the day taking pictures of eagles & a huge lumber mill operation. Then we sat on the beach & waited for the rest of the crew to finish up on the Kokish. They reported that the Lower Kokish was of very high quality with pushy, complex boulder rapids in a deep gorge. It's highly recommended if you're ever in the Pt. Mcneil area (which is pretty unlikely, really). We also later learned that this was also a 1D, as 2 other parties attempted but did not complete the canyon.

The boys exiting the Upper Kokish Gorge & onto the Lower. You can see in all the Kokish shots that this river has a high tannic acid content. Wetlands upstream in the drainage, I'm guessing.

A couple of us had noticed a tree full of bald eagles the day before on our way up the Kokish. We decided to find this spot while the rest of the crew was out getting a 1D on the Lower K.

We were totally unprepared for what we found -- probably a hundred or more eagles all converged in an area no bigger than a couple acres.

The sound alone was amazing. It was like being at the tropical bird exhibit at the zoo.

We also checked out a huge milling operation at the mouth of the Kokish. Vancouver Island is extraordinarily impacted by logging pressures. I have never seen a landscape so beautiful yet so devastated by clearcutting. The timber industry is one of the few gigs that an Islander, particularly an "up-Islander", can do to sustain a family. The tragic irony of course is that these guys have such a connection to the mountains & forests here, but the industry that affords them the opportunity to stay in such a beautiful place requires them to destroy their home.

At the dryland sort.

This piece of machinery was pretty intense. I call it Jaws.

From the dryland sort, the Jaws operator would drop loads of big twigs into the water & then these bumper-tugboat-things would sort them by ramming them into place.

Not sure what the log walker guy is up to.

Our next move was back southward to the Nanaimo area where we would have a full-on media-blitz day at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park. Before leaving for home, Toby took me aside & said, "Look, if you have to do a day of park n huck, Qualicum Falls is NOT a sad spot to do it." We took a couple hours to set up an INTERESTING CONTRAPTION from which to document the day of waterfall hucking. Only issue was that the falls were not at all a lay-up -- the lead-in was stout enough & offered little in the way of recovery time if you zoo'd it. The first big drop had an imposing curler wave at the lip which appeared to kick right into a pocket with beatdown potential. And there was a very short pool between it & the second big drop. But it went pretty well, even though no one was able to stick the first big one without going upside-down. The second waterfall is nearly 30 feet & is MONEY. We owned the park for the entire day & were able to work the perfect lighting & multiple angles from the trails around the falls. No hassles from authorities, & only some elderly tourists whose experiences were undoubtedly more interesting that day. This kinda operation with blatant liability implications would NEVER be allowed in the States. See pics.

We must all work toward improving the image of Americans traveling abroad .. Doing our part in Canucky.

I love this shot of Austin. One of my all-time faves. We were all a little skeptical about what would be the outcome on the first waterfall & Austin stepped up & showed us what to do.

Austin on the next drop.

Billy dropping into #2. Shot by E.Boomer.

Travis Richardson .. representin' Sparks, NV, ya heard!

Rathman on #1.

Visual evidence that I actually kayak sometimes too. Me between beatdowns & blogs. Beautifully shot by E.Boomer from freakin' Idaho.

Boomer dropping.

The Bonus at Qualicum is the stellar gorge the waterfalls land in. You get another sweet teacup drop before you exit.

Our last day would be spent getting skunked on another 1D bid on the Fleet River. No water, so we drove & then drove some more til we found water in the slippery granite bedrock gorge of the Middle Gordon, which was a great way to end the trip.

Billy styling "Austin City Limits" on the Gordon.

Parting shot:

Our team was: Travis Richardson, Erik Boomer, Tristan McClaren, Bryan Smith, John Grace, Billy Jones, Austin Rathman, Toby McDermott, myself, & although he didn't paddle due to a blown shoulder, Jan Detmer. Jan provided us with epic beta, leads on 1D's, & floor space in Vic, & the trip would not have been possible without him. Huge thanks to Billy Jones for use of the camera!

... and thank you for reading this far!


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