As the saying says, British Columbia provides. It is one of world’s best destinations for kayaking and the season here is extra long. But when I think about what I remember the most about the last five months that I spent in BC I must say the beautiful wild nature. When I went to work, when I went kayaking and when I got back home I was always surrounded by magnificent glacier covered mountains, dense forest, clean creeks and lots of wild animals. You don’t even have to go out of towns like Squamish or Whistler to see a bear, coyote or a Bald Eagle. All this beauty was the first thing to comfort me when I first arrived to Squamish. I had just spent a month of kayaking in warm cloudless spring weather before that and as soon as I got to Squamish it started to rain. I had no car, no kayaking crew, it was cold outside and it made me start to wonder what I was doing there. A kayaker without a car in BC isn’t much of a kayaker. But after a week or two I bought a car, made some new friends and started to realise that I was living in paradise.
A raft guiding and safety kayaking job on the Elaho and Cheakamus rivers kept me busy through most of the days but unlike most similar jobs we always finished working before 16.30, which meant I had enough time to go kayaking after work. The Callaghan River is normally the best option for after work run in springtime and early summer. It is an amazing mix of class 4-5 rapids and some fun waterfalls, a truly great home run if you live in the area. Unfortunately it is under threat for a hydro power plant diversion. You can read more about the issue in a blog I published at my Palm Blog page.
Big river, big waves, rafting and kayaking job on the elaho is fun:
Just as I started to enjoy the Squamish rafter-kayaker lifestyle I unfortunately broke my rib on the Callaghan. Luckily there is not much you can do if you break your rib but wait for it to heal, so I continued to work and kayak, even though it sometimes hurt a lot. It took about six weeks for it to heal, just in time for the Callaghan race. The race itself was kind of a protest to the hydro power threat and more than 50 kayakers showed up to show their support. The Callaghan race is raced in pairs and I competed with my friend and co-worker at COA rafting Marlow McGregor from Australia. We were really happy to finish third, but there wasn’t much time to celebrate as it was in the middle of the rafting season and we had to work next morning.
Myself and Marlow before the Callaghan race.
There was a lot of work in the season but the weather was amazing all summer long and we kayaked a lot. I didn’t get to go kayaking much further than areas around Whistler and Squamish, except for two trips to Lytton. If the climate from the ocean to Whistler is known to be more wet and chillier, you end up in a hot desert-like environment as soon as you cross the Cayoosh mountain pass to the east of Pemberton. I didn’t spend much time there but the environmental difference made my memory of summer that much more diverse.
A trip to Lytton. Thanks to Nice for hosting me and showing me around:
When summer starts rolling into fall, the rivers around Whistler start getting low, but the beauty of British Columbia is that there is always something that is running at a good water level. When some rivers get too low others just get low enough. I spent most of the fall kayaking around Squamish on the Ashlu and Elaho. I can definitely say that was the best “low water” season I’ve ever had in my life.
Ashlu, a world class kayaking river that I got to call a home-run:
And after I moved to Whistler for the winter and it got colder and water levels got lower – well, some of the class 5 sections became class 4 and if you only need to use a bit more of imagination to keep your kayaking fun.
Here are also some photos from a fun session at the Balls to the Wall waterfall on the Cheakamus. Thanks Jordan Bastin for taking the shots.
One of the highlights of the summer was a Tatlow creek and Ashlu Mine Run mission. Photos tell the story.
Mamquam falls, a treat in the middle of Squamish (photo Sandy Macevan).