Saturday, March 31, 2007

Spring News from BC

Spring has sprung here in the damp and moldy lower mainland of British Columbia. The ski bug is slowly being pushed out of the system and the kayaking parasite is festering. While the TRL crew has been a little silent through the winter and the Photo Holdum has allowed us to live the kayaking dream vicariously through amazing photographs, times are changing. We are actually getting out kayaking every once in a onto some BC updates for anyone curious about what is happening up in the Squampton zone.


Finding paddling partners in this town has always been a big challenge. People come and go and the crew is always changing. The start of this season has been no exception, but there are definately some keen boaters moving up the rank and profile here in Squamish. The mission started to develop around 11:00pm last night at a birthday party for my wife Lise-Anne. Matt, Garret, and "danger" Dan started feeding me lines about going kayaking in the morning. They wanted to go do Fear Canyon. I could see I was a bit of a kingpin, as these guys were not really sure what they would be getting into and could use a bit of a "leader". I told them to call me in the morning. The phone rang at 8am, they were at my house by 9 and I was quickly trying to figure out a way to get out of driving. Dan told me that he would drive and this is where the entertainment started. I walk out front to this...

Mazda 323 Hatchback...the ultimate BC kayaking rig!

Keep in mind that Fear Canyon is 40 miles from Squamish...2/3's of which is logging road. 4 guys, 4 boats, 4 paddles, and a Mazada 323 with ropes tied every which way. After almost loosing the boats before hitting the gravel, I suggested we re-tie the boats. This consisted of wrapping a throw bag around the boats and through the interior of the car for extra security. I was questioning my sanity for not suggesting we take my truck in the end. 40 miles later, several rocks to the underpan, and the boats just hanging on, we arrived safely at the put-in for Fear Canyon. Low water, but perfect early season material.

Me dropping into the "Third Portage" aka the best drop on the run.

Garrett looking up at the scenery

Matt class climber showcasing his rope work on top of the 323


And now for the depressing news. As many of you know TRL has been involved in documenting the Ashlu River in many ways over the years. This winter has brought dramatic changes to the landscape of the Ashlu drainage with the start of Ledcor's hydro project. I kicked down for a heli ride up the valley a few day ago to see the valley from the air. The pictures and film give you and idea of the scale of this project and how quickly they are working to get this project in.

The power house and tunnel exit site. They are just starting to bore the tunnel through the mountain that the water will be diverted into.

The old two track road is now the size of an aircraft runway with power lines strung.

Here is a short video that includes some aerial footage of the site where the dam will go in. They call it a weir, but from the scale of excavation required it appears to be significant. This was the put-in for the mini mine run.


Anonymous said...

That video makes me feel completely helpless. Thanks for getting the images and information out. What can I do?

Anonymous said...

Response to the first part: Gotta love "low water" in the northwest and BC!!

Response to the second: We all knew it was in the works (thanks to TRL and others) but seeing the pictures of the destruction really sends the message home. This is such a bummer, such a loss.


Anonymous said...

That vid sickens me. I am so displeased with the evolution of intention. I guess there will always be this type of 'want' in the world. I know those who want to make a difference whether it be through science, medicine, spirituality... create tools, techniques, and viewpoints that can be used to help. I realize they will also be used to 'help'. I just get so frustrated I don't know what to do. When I watch these things I feel like Ledcor "types" are already so engrained into the current system and I am so far behind I don't know where to begin. Where do I begin? Thank you, Bryan for all of your work. I don't know what I can do, but I have some money I can give. It is a sad thing being done to the Ashlu place.

Brett Barton

Boilerblues said...

I loved the video that you guys put together about the Ashlu, I'd so love to run it myself. It saddens me that they are destroying it. I ran my first Class II yesterday (I'm a total newbie) and this was what I wrote when I got home:

How can we improve on what God has created? If we take a river, commission our best artists, utilize the most advanced technology, it still does not come close to God's original work. How can the pyramids compare with the Himalayas? How can New York or Paris compare with the Grand Canyon? Everything that man touches, as he tries to make it his own, it loses the grandeur that was there before us. But when we enter into God's creation with wonder and awe, and desire to only treasure these great gifts, we do nothing to diminish what God has done and we come away richer in every way.

Anonymous said...

i hope the drillers hit solid fu*kin' rock and break every single drill head they put on there! Leave our RIVERS BE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Bryan Smith said...

Well thank you all for your support. I bang my head against the wall and wonder what I'm doing and where I'm going with this sometimes. As some of you may know I'm working on a bigger film prject that is a full documentary on the Ashlu and the broader issue of "Run of the River" projects in BC. It will be an attempt to cover the story from a lot of different angles and take a look at what the future holds. I have been slaving on this project just because I wanted to better understand the issue. I have spent hours, days, weeks, months on this project. Comments like the above keep driving me towards the finished product. There are a lot of days when I think..."What the fuck am I doing all this work for free for?" I guess I love the rivers that much.

Bryan Smith said...

In terms of what people can do...

One of the biggest problems currently is that kayakers have lost a lot of credibility in BC when it comes to being a powerful voice for the rivers. People see us as radicals that want the rivers saved for our kayaking pleasure and experience. Is that true? I would argue that is true to some degree, but we also have bigger issues that go beyond kayaking.

The long term well being of our rivers is a concern of more than just kayakers. I think it is really importtant that we begin to allign ourselves with all the other rivers user groups out there and diplomatically work towards protecting key rivers. AWA does an excellent job of this in the US. BC needs a similar approach to getting things done.

That is about all I have to offer, besides saying you can help promote and support the film I'm working on!

Anonymous said...

Of course we want to keep our rivers free-flowing so that we can kayak them... but the sad truth is that sometimes "enhancement" projects (dams) actually improve recreation opportunities. For the Ashlu this is not the case, but even if it were, we would not fight to dam our rivers so that we could paddle them more days out of the year. This is what Ledcor does not understand. This is what the energy CEOs and lobbyists and politicians need to understand - our rivers are ours. They are a public trust. We all own them and we want them free-flowing so that the animals can drink, so that the fish can spawn, and so that the wild places in our world stay wild. The Ashlu is the lifeblood of its entire watershed. When the river runs dry so does much of the life the river supports. How you can help - spread the wisdom of the river and make your voice heard wherever you can. Thank you Bryan and TRL for your strong voice on this issue. Get organized, dig your boots in and let's stop this travesty from spreading to any other amazing drainages in BC and let's not give up hope for the Ashlu. Every year the Ashlu will run, the land can be reclaimed by the wild and all we have to do is find a way to shut down that tunnel. There is corruption festering beneath this plot and all it requires of us is to shed light upon its ugly head. Viva los rios!

hmmm... stepping of the soapbox now. this stuff just gets me riled!

Little G from Van Isle said...

That is an amazing video that you guys have put together. I was just paddling yesterday on the Nanaimo River and the logging that is going on the banks of that river makes me sick. Your video is very tastefully put together, KEEP ON ROCKING TRL! You guys are doing a great job on raising awareness.

jakub said...

Hello paddling people,
If you want to help, become member of BC Creek protection society (> We are non-profit organization fighting the spread of small hydro projects. If we want to fight it effectively, we have to be unite! Becoming a member ensure your voice will be heard!
Thanks Brian for great pictures an movie.

Todd Gillman said...

thanks jakub. i added a link to BC-Creeks on the trl sidebar. get involved people!


slickhorn said...

Hey Bryan,

Great post about aligning with other river users. I've been watching the Chatooga headwaters issue with some interest as fishermen and boaters fight each other -- hard to belive, when our interests are so similar.

The tried and true technique of those seeking domination remains "divide and conquer." So long as we infight with those closest to our own positions, we can expect defeat.

thanks for all your doing -- every now and then I manage to forget the horror taking place up there, and you promptly post and get me fired up about it again. Karma coming your way!