Friday, May 23, 2008

Hot Spot: Gold River; Part 3 / The End

I would have preferred to get the 3rd & final part of this blog post up sooner, but time for quality blogging is in short supply these days. I don't really have much of a trip report to offer for our last day, so this will mainly be a caption-assisted photo dump.

The general overview is that we planned a big "hat trick" day for our last day. That is, on day 3 we wanted to complete 3 different runs -- the Upper Gold, the Upana, & the Heber -- before racing back to Nanaimo to catch a boat back to the mainland.

Sore from the previous day's dealings, we rose early, ate quick & headed out to the Upper Gold, which, according to our minimal beta was short, not terribly difficult, & well worth doing just to float into its spectacular gorge. We anticipated a "hit it 'n quit it" run that would be a good warm-up for the rest of our day.

This was our put-in wakeup rapid ..

The Gold is a river, not a creek. We ran about a mile or two of easy whitewater in a beautiful canyon before an innocuous blind bend sent the entire crew scratching for a surging small eddy at the entrance of a tight sheer-walled gorge. We were fortunate that the eddy was even there, & even more so that we were able to scramble up onto a ledge, then traverse, then up to the rim of the gorge. The rapid looked incredible & a little reminiscent of "Conversation" on Robe Canyon, all big waves & holes compressed between vertical walls. Upon scouting we found that the thing kept going & going into a super tight pinch with a couple bad boils & undercut walls. Problem was the log across the gorge at clothesline-yer-head-off level. There was no real option to run the top of the rapid without being forced into the ledge with the log. So we began the long portage ... Here we go again ...

This is the log that gipped us out of this amazing rapid.

Jakub contemplating the limbo-to-undercut-pinch

Jakub & Bryan decided to do the assisted drop, under the log & into the pinch. Both reported sketchiness with regard to the pinch move & the undercut wall, & didn't recommend doing it .. so the rest of the crew opted for the 30-foot throw 'n go from the gorge rim. We all got to float out through the unbelievably beautiful corridor, just some of us did it out of our boats.

Shertl with the Michael Jackson glove & with the assist

Dealin' with the boily stuff & the undercut

Kato in the pinch..

.. & out of the pinch

On the rim of the gorge, pre chuck, pre huck.

More class IV rapids led us to an obvious big-ass gorge rapid. Nothing about this rapid looked appealing from upstream .. but we dealt with it, just not quickly. We ended up taking so long to scout/run/portage this one that by the time we got off the run, we had to scramble to get shuttle run & head back down to the Upana. Here are some more pics from the Gold.

Me in some random boogie water

Right side = bad scene

Onto the Upana .. The Upana is a classic creek run with lots of manky boulder rapids, then slidey bedrock rapids, leading into another spectacular Van Island gorge. The first gorged-out rapid came as a surprise & though not very steep, it was a bit plucky with 3 back-to-back ledges/holes to punch. Then there's the perfect 25-footer .. & another big boof with a tricky lead-in .. followed by a bunch of bouldery mank. That's the Upana, & it's a must-do. By the time I ran the waterfall & met Bryan in the eddy below, we were really pushing our luck -- not with regard to daylight hours or the creek itself, but it was like 4 or 5 o'clock & we were still way up-Island, in a canyon, when where we needed to be was in the truck on the way to the ferry dock. Couple of us had to work in the morning. Needless to say, we wouldn't be getting on the Heber on our way out, or achieving our hat trick. Damn. We hightailed it off the Upana & out of the Gold River / Strathcona zone, happy nonetheless with an incredible couple days of exploring Van Island.

Here's some photos from just a couple of the rapids on the Upana .. didn't have time to wield the camera too much.

Wayrad in the first gorge section w/ Shurstle looking on from the eddy

Jakub approaching a nice corner-boof

Kato preparing for liftoff

This is the best view you can get of the waterfall prior to running it semi-blind. It's good, right down the gut.

Kato dropping.

Wayrad from the right..

.. and the left.

Giddy up! Time to drive like hell & catch a ferry!


Chris Bozman said...

thats not the upper gold but rather a stretch called the un-runnable as for years people just said you could never run it Shane Vollmers Dave Prothero and I think Jan proved that wrong about 4-5 years ago. The other name for it is Monkey Canyon, As thats was the local Gold river fisher men call it. The Actual Upper gold run starts were that one ends and goes down to the logging road bride and is easy grade 4 again with a nice Canyon. There is also a run above it called the upper upper...

It looks like you guys had good water in there. what was the gold river gage at? It suck that there is a log into the little slot canyon as it was a really fun rapid with a cool ending before.

Uppan is also amazing it brings back lots of good memories of living up in Strathcona park.

Chris Bozman

AdrianTregoning said...

As per usual another good article with some super paddling and great photos! Always enjoy this blog. Keep up the sterling work.

Adrian :)

Todd Gillman said...

Thanks for the comments you guys.

Chris -- good info! We didn't really know what to call it. Shayne V. only marked a cpl potential putins & takeouts on our maps & said that it was worth doing .. seemed more "Upper" than "Lower", so we just went with that. I wish we'd had more time to enjoy the Upana (& to do the Heber), but we were so rushed. Really looking forward to going back.