Quebexicains in BC: part 1
During the summer, myself, Billy Thibault, Francis Maheu and Mike Roy were piling our money for a same goal. Go to BC at the end of august. We all worked hard to achieve our goal. On august 17th we packed Billy’s small Toyota Matrix with 4 kayaks and all the gear we needed for this adventure.
Our plan was to go around Squamish, boat a little bit around there and then maybe head to the Stikine,but watching the level of the stikine and the rainforcast we knew we did not had a lot of time. The level of the Stikine was droping. So we decided to hit the stout 60 hours drive to go straight to the Stikine. 60 hours in a fully loaded car with 4 boys in it…
I had 60 hours to think about the Stikine. We were really on our way for what is considered by many as the Everest of whitewater kayaking. We were scared and excited at the same time. It was going to be, for all of us, a big step in our kayaking experiences.
On our way, under the advice of Mikel St-Jean-Duncan, we stoped for a quick run on the upper Frazer. We didn’t know what to expect of this run. We just wanted to paddle a little bit and cut the long drive. The run starts with a sick drop called Overlander falls. Super sick drop with a big hole to plug at the bottom. After the drop we were super stoked to be on the water and we just charged trought the next rapids. The rapids were getting bigger and bigger. We didn’t scout anything, maybe we should have but I was leading the boys trought the rapids with the minding that this thing was our small training for the Stikine. With no expectations, the upper Frazer end up to be a super sick run and proper training for the Stikine. The stokeness was high and we were fired up for the rest of the road.
Our plan was to drive non-stop to the Stikine, but in northern BC the gas stations are rare and they aren't open 24/24... So for the second time of our trip we had to sleep in the parking lot of a gas station... This is how it is in northern BC !
I think I was the most nervous in the group about the Stikine, but when we got to the put in all the stress left and gave place to a super high level of excitement. All of a sudden I became very confident and super fired up. We meet Nouria Newman at the put it. It was about to be the first fully francophone expedition on the Stikine and one of the rare trips in the last few years to put in without a guide !
We slept at the put in to leave early the next morning. Day one was the hardest one according to me. You have to get used to the weight in your boat, get use to the size of the whitewater and portage site Z, but when I got to camp 1 I just wanted to go to bed to wake up and paddle on this sick river again.
Day 2 was my favorite one ! Some super big rapids and tons of high quality boat scoutable whitewater. Can't ask for better than that. One of the most epic moment also happened on day 2. The descent of The Wall One. This rapid is unscoutable and unportagable. The only thing we knew is that there was a hole on the left... Like I said before we had no guide, so our only possibility was to just run it ! Everything went well and at the bottom of this rapid I experienced one of the highest level of happiness I ever had in my kayak. It was just incredible. To finish day 2 you get to the most epic camp spot under a huge rock. We got to camp 2 around 2 pm so we had plenty of time to chill and appreciate the awesomeness of Stikine landscape.
The next morning I was super fired up, it was the last day, but many stouts were still between us and the take out. There is not a lot of rapids on day 3 but they are all masives. The scariest moment happened on day 3. We were scouting a rapid just above The wall 2 and we saw a boat with no captain going through the waves... TAB***NAK ! The boat was on the shore and just slided into the water so we jumped in our boats and chased the kayak. When we got to the wall 2 the boat has disapeared so we tought we had lost the boat. We jumped out of our boats to scout the wall 2 and saw the boat resurfacing in the eddy at the bottom, so Nouria ran the rapid with almost no scout and rescued the boat. Francis Maheu owner of this little kayak had to swim a part of the canyon the reach us. Scary moment... It would have been super bad to loose a boat on the Stikine I don't even want to think about it and I got to tell you... It was a rental boat.
When we got to The hole that hate chicago, I was pretty sure we were going to walk it. The line on the right didn't look good, but after a few minutes scouting Nouria decided she was going to plug the hole on the left. So we seted up safety.(merci à skunkman mike) Nouria had a super great line. So we all pluged this massive hole, thanks Nouria for showing us how it's done !
The last major obstacle was V-drive, as the level was a bit lower than usual V-drive was not a big V wave, it was a massive hole, and scouting from a super high point it looked massive so we knew it was about to be way bigger from the water level, but the only way out was to just go once again so we all went at the same time and everybody ended up at the bottom with a huge smille on their faces. The rest of the run is just quality whitewater and hapiness !
The Stikine is the best run I've ever done. The whole experience is something I'll never forget can't wait to go back !
The Stikine is a super pristine area. The wilderness is incredible and the natural beauty is everywhere, it looks untouchable, but the Stikine area is highly threatened by the men. Mining, hydropower, wood industry... The human activty shakes this fragile ecosystem. The man already committed and is about to commit irreparable gestures in this region. The natives in the area are fighting day after day to protect it. Us, kayakers, got to support them. More and more people are going to the Stikine so we got to be carefull and respectfull of the area !
The Stikine was only the beginning of our trip ! Now we were heading to Whistler ! Let's see what happened in Whistler in my next article !
Thanks to Level six, having a good dry suit is more than essential on the Stikine
Thanks to Billy Thibault aka Billy big Deal for adding a few miles to his car...
Thanks to Pascal Tremblay for the corrections !