Monday, April 14, 2008

One Week Changes Everything

Just last week Todd, I and the Squampton crew were searching for something to do. With river levels ultra low and snow issues up the Elaho we stumbled into a couple of great days on the Lower Mile of the Ashlu pretty much by accident. While we thought we might encounter boat breaking low conditions, we were pleasantly surprised with some fun whitewater. So as this weekend approached, I spoke with Greg, Tim, and Matt Compass and motivation was high to get back into the Lower Mile for a few laps before she started to juice up.

On Saturday Squamish hit 20 degrees Celsius, which I think equates to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You can see life in Canucky is starting to take hold. I'm thinking Celsius, meters, and tuques these days. Toques are hats for you unseasoned yankee folks. Point being, the 20 degree sunshine started to melt a little of our low elevation snow and conveniently brought us some proper water levels by Sunday. Plan was to head to the Ashlu and see what we could find. The stoke started to build as we made our way out the Squamish valley. Cluing into to water level visuals on the Squamish we all started to talk smack about the Box being in. After conveniently checking in with Ledcor staff and giving them our names and license plate numbers for their world-class "safety management" in the Ashlu valley, it became clear that we had enough water to head to the Box.

Put-in to the Box. You can see the parked trucks just beyond us. They were skinning up to go skiing! The road is a no go beyond the 25 mile bridge right now. Going to be a while before we can get into the Mine.

photo Bryan Smith

Greg Daspher...this guy always keeps the stoke high!

photo by Bryan Smith

Right from the start we had lots of snow to deal with on the put-in trail.

We had solid medium to high flows which had those of us who know the run a bit on edge. The Box always tugs on the nerves when no one has been in there for a while. Post holing our way to the put-in, I suggested that it was imperative that one of use went on a scout of triple drop to make sure it was clear of wood. Because I knew it would slow the pace down if we all tried to navigate through the snow along the ridge, I pushed on while the others scouted the first couple drops. While nothing is super gnar-gnar in the first few rapids, it is all unscoutable and un-portagable from river level requiring a good knowledge of the lines and peace of mind that no old growth is lurking downstream. I pushed onto to triple drop and discovered a hunk of old growth wedged in the exit of the third ledge with just enough room to sneak under the right side.

The team scouting the first rapid from the canyon level pillow lines.

photo by Bryan Smith

Matt warming up the shoulders before dropping in.

The first few rapids went pretty smooth, with the log in triple providing an extra element to an already intense rapid. Then we hit Kernage. The entire entry was all chalked full of wood and the boulder scramble portage was covered with a few feet of snow.

Matt Compass probing. You had to sneak in along the left and drop into the first ledge sideways with no speed. Needless to say we had some interesting lines.

photo by Bryan Smith

The view of Kernage from the bottom. Note the wood junk show in the entrance.

photo by Bryan Smith

At the end of the first canyon comes what some consider a junky rapid, but when you have proper flows and know the line this one is a diamond in the rough.

Greg launching the entry boof

photo by Bryan Smith

And the glory exit from the first canyon of the Box

photo by Bryan Smith

The first rapid in the second canyon always has had a long history of collecting wood. Because of the amount of wood we had been dealing with, we opted to post hole our way to a quick vantage. I took the camera and shot from an angle that people rarely see.

Mt Ashlu guarding us.

photo by Bryan Smith

Greg dropping into the lower Box canyon.

photo by Bryan Smith

Wood continue to play games with us as we hit the two perfect 10 footers just after entering the lower canyon. The second of the two ledges always sends you right and of course there was a tree wedged in the exit. After scouting for a bit we came up with an alternative line on the left which proved to be an incredible boof.

Matt coming into numero uno.

photo by Bryan Smith

Matt going left on the second ledge to avoid the tree on the right.

photo by Bryan Smith

So just one week after "Low Water Salvation" we got the Box at a solid flow. Amazing. It is scary to think about what will happen if we get a week of sustained temps here in BC. It ain't going to take much before the low elevation stuff starts to blow out and we are scrambling up snow laden roads trying to escape the melt. Hold's going to be a big water year in BC.


Todd Gillman said...

Nice one Kato .. I'm loving that you are rockin' the still set-up now :)

You think the log in the bottom of Triple will move once the A gets big? Or will we have to pre-scout every time at higher runnable flows?

We had spectacular bluebird skies & downright HOT temps on Saturday down here -- Shertlvision & company on low-flow Tumwater. Then Sunday brought clouds, cooler temps & extra-medium flows on the Robe w/Seattle's usual suspects.

Spring has sprung!

Bryan Smith said...

I think most of the wood will blow out when it starts flowing. Several team members this weekend however did mention that "wood" will become more common once Ledcor starts diverting water. I don't think the log in triple is going anytime soon. It is a big one and wedged pretty good. It's not too big of a deal, just in your face a bit.

Anonymous said...

Bryan- you think Box will be in this weekend?


Anonymous said...

Nice Ashlu posts guys. I would love to get on that river before it's damned. How long do you think we have? It's a long drive from NorCal and we are going to have an epic summer here. Buyt everything I've read and seen it's worth it. Will Ledcor be pulling water soon or will it run free through the summer?

Bryan Smith said...

It looks like we will have the last free flowing season this year. They are behind schedule on construction and I don't think they will be diverting until after this season. The spring is always a little tricky cause it goes high pretty quick. You could bank on late August once Cali dries up. Try to come for two weeks. Hit the Tatlow and the Mine, then as those runs drop out you can get the Box and Fear Canyon. You can always hit me at to see where flows are at, but the late summer season is predicatable and good. Come and get it this's worth the drive